A day in Manager’s life – how to survive under an avalanche of meetings
What does your typical day at work look like? Is the calendar bursting at its seams, and you lack the time to perform basic tasks? Sounds familiar? Now, imagine that half of your meetings disappear from your agenda without losses for your business. How is this possible? In a lean way.
Recently, “planners” have been enjoying unflagging popularity. Pink, black and maroon, broken down by days and hours, with the possibility of setting goals and designing life. We find it difficult to deal. There is too little time, and we are trying to manage by planning every single minute, so that it is not wasted. Oppressively, we grab a planner and the next influencer – time specialist who will tell us how to live. But where is lean in all this?
Organisation based on values
An overarching principle of lean approach is to provide customers with products/services of value in the easiest and fastest way. So without unnecessary wastage. Let me invite you to a small experiment. Take your diary and analyze step by step the meetings held by writing down on the side the business value that they provided. How many of them have you held idealistically without advancing the project forward? If this is the vast number, it means that it’s time to start to plan smarter.
Business relies on people and every encounter with another person always offers some value. This is the basic and unquestionable principle. The longer someone stays in a business environment, the better they understand it. But when you start to lose the ground under your feet, it is difficult to finish projects because there is not enough time for them and the team cannot count on you, because you’re stuck at a next meeting – start planning based on the values.
There was a meeting…
Recently, I arranged a meeting which was supposed to be a summary of activities undertaken in the last few weeks – it was a summary of interviews with the recipients and the team which resulted in elaboration of the Unique Value Proposition and the implementation of changes process. The next stage was to involve workshops validating the results of this work. It seemed very important to me, because it would be good for customers to know what we were doing. It took me few hours to prepare by involving others in the team. Everything went on smoothly, successful meeting, relationships built, but has the project advanced? Well, no. The meeting turned out to be worthless in the context of the project course – because the process was previously determined and discussed, and the meeting changed nothing in the course of further work, etc.. The summary at this stage was not necessary, and if anything, I could have arranged it over the Internet, or simply described it in the mail. Thus, I wasted a few hours of my time and the time of my colleagues and customers, leading to a slowdown in the implementation of the project.
Then I realized that a substantial number of my meetings is unnecessary. I act in a lean way, I teach about lean approach, meanwhile, I have allowed such waste to sneak into my work? First, I could not believe it, and then I started acting.
Minimize remembering about people
I firmly believe in lean approach and I appreciate the fact that it puts providing values and working on the basis of the values in the center. Also in terms of time organization. But how do I transfer a lean to a canvas of meetings planning?
- Ask yourself “why”. The key question in the context of planning of your time is its meaning. If you want to build customer relationships – meet with them. If you want to make progress in the project, specify how this meeting can contribute to it. List the values that this meeting would contribute to the project and consider whether it is necessary to hold it. Remember about the purpose of the meeting.
- Minimize the technical preparation for the meeting. If you determine that the meeting is valuable and necessary, examine its form. Maybe instead of wasting time on arrival, it can take place by telephone or over the Internet? Make your life easier and don’t waste your time.
- Don’t forget about the people. Project will be project, but always remember about the people – your callers and your respect to them. Nothing can replace an eye to eye meeting, so if your calendar allows it, and the meeting offers value and has a specific purpose – meet and talk.
Lack of time is one of the main problems of each manager. Trying to sort out our schedules, we should keep in mind the objectives and values which provide us with the next steps to fill our days with. Before we arrange a meeting, consider whether it is necessary and if it offers value … bearing the people in mind. Follow the principle of respect for our customers, partners, colleagues and their time.
If you are interested in how we work on a daily basis based on lean values, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you like to organise such a workshop or your company or just to talk about your process?