Focus on Outcomes, Not Organization

I had a great breakfast meeting at the Cambridge Marriott with Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT yesterday morning. We had never met before and I loved the conversation – his brain was bubbling with ideas that are relevant to many of the things I’m interested in, he challenged some of my thinking, and we had a deep and awesome conversation about open source hardware, makers, and MakerBot.

This morning Raj Bhargava (who recently co-founded two companies I’ve invested in – Yesware and SkedulMe) sent me a blog post by Michael titled Tip for Getting More Organized: Don’t. In it Michael makes the argument that the notion of spending time each day organizing your tasks, the concept of email folders, and the idea of productively organizing yourself is obsolete. The money quote at the end is:

“The essential takeaway is that the new economics of personal productivity mean that the better organized we try to become, the more wasteful and inefficient we become. We’ll likely get more done better if we give less time and thought to organization and greater reflection and care to desired outcomes. Our job today and tomorrow isn’t to organize ourselves better; it’s to get the right technologies that respond to our personal productivity needs. It’s not that we’re becoming too dependent on our technologies to organize us; it’s that we haven’t become dependent enough.”

I couldn’t agree more. I spent almost no time “organizing my tasks.” In fact, I no longer have a task list. I have outcomes I’m going after. They fit within a daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual tempo. The daily and weekly outcomes are dynamic – I have to think about them regularly and they change and shift around (I have new ones each day and new ones each week.) I call these my Daily P1s and my Weekly P1s (which I wrote about recently in a post titled Managing Priorities)- the daily ones are the three things I want to accomplish before I go to sleep; the weekly ones are the three things I want to accomplish each week before Monday morning.

But that’s it. I have a daily schedule that is highly structured (and managed by my assistant) so I don’t have to spend a millisecond thinking about who I need to meet with, where I need to be, or what I need to schedule for later. If you know me, you know that I just “go where my schedule tells me to.” I process all of my email with one touch, I write what I want when I want, and I have a strong conceptual hierarchy for prioritizing high interrupt things. I also stay off the phone unless scheduled – if you spend time with me for a day it’s likely that the only time I’m on the phone is with Amy to say “hi – I love you” or have a pre-scheduled call.

I love the notion of focusing on outcomes rather than organization. For as long as I’ve been an adult, I’ve been hearing about, reading, thinking about, and experimenting with different technology to be “more organized and productive.” I’m an aggressive user of whatever exists and when I reflect on where I’m at in 2012 I definitely feel like I’ve gotten to the place where I’m spending almost all of my time and energy on outcomes and achieving them, not on organizing myself.

If you are someone who spends 30 minutes or more a day “organizing yourself”, I encourage you to step back and think about what you could change and how that might shift you from focusing on organizing to working toward outcomes. It’s liberating.

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    I see this in practice every day + I’m emulating some, tho not all, of these behaviors.

    One area that still conflicts me – task / issue / defect lists for dev projects.  They’re absolutely critical when the team grows (i.e. you + n), but as a single dev, I’ve used them very little over the yrs.  But when I do use them, I find I get more done (faster, hey).  

    The simple matter of an open ticket bugs me, so I do the work to close it.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I should have mentioned something about Agile. Modern software development runs on a similar rhythm to what I’m describing.

      • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

        Every shop that uses agile has some form of ‘the list’ – the group of stories against which the iteration occurs (is burned down). There’s even the backlog – the list of stuff you aren’t doing this time around.

        The list – and list management – is a key component of every single co I’ve been inside the past 10 yrs. You know the cos I’m talking abt – they’re huge, successful + [mostly] modern.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Yup – and the list is dynamic. That’s the important thing. And the list is “outcomes” (the stories) rather than a detailed spec.

          • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

            Exactly – that was the nuance that both our replies above didn’t explicitly state.

  • http://timbrauhn.com timbrauhn

    Every time some new personal productivity thing hits the web (even if it’s really an offline “app”), I snap it up, but only to see the overall system. If it hasn’t grabbed me by the hair in the first 5 minutes, I don’t return to it. I keep an overall task list on hand so that some important things aren’t truly forgotten, but I generally stick to what you’re describing here: The most simple method for getting things done productively is to get things done proactively. 

    For a sec there I thought that would end up looking like a truism. Nice. Thanks for talking about this, Mr. Feld. 

    PS – The little lamb picture is attached not so much to add to the flavor or depth of my response, but moreso for me to see what the function does. This is the first time that I’ve seen the Add Image option for Disqus. Thank you for abiding. 

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Love the lamb! That’s a neat Disqus feature.

  • http://twitter.com/vbelfor Victor Belfor

    Doing what the schedule tells me to do requires absolute confidence that what it tells me to do is in fact important.  Confidence in someone (either a person like an EA or a piece of technology) controlling the schedule requires training / set up + ongoing training / configuration.  To me that’s just another form of organizing.  Semantics?

  • James Mitchell

    “The essential takeaway is that the new economics of
    personal productivity mean that the better organized we try to become, the more
    wasteful and inefficient we become.”

    I am certain that somewhere on the Internet there is a dumber statement than
    this one, but it would take a lot of time to find it. It’s impossible to have
    your mind free without some level of organization. 30 minutes a day sounds
    about right AFTER you spend the 2 to 30 day initial investment David Allen’s
    Getting Things Done requires. If you’re spending less than 30 minutes, either
    your life is very simple (e.g., a farmer) or you are underinvesting in organization. I spend about 30 minutes a day and it is too little. I would
    double my productivity if I invested an hour and if I were more regular at
    doing my weekly review. See my essay on David Allen at:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/david-allen

    If one has a really good assistant, then he/she can do some of this but not all of this. The President of the United States needs to spend no time on organization. But he has a staff that most of us do not.

    “In fact, I no longer have a task list. I have
    outcomes I’m going after. … I call these my Daily P1s and my Weekly P1s.”

    You’re doing it all wrong. Outcomes are not actionable. A desired outcome has
    to be translated into concrete steps. You went to Paris this year, that was
    your desired outcome. But for it to happen, a number of tasks needed to be
    accomplished (by you, your assistant and/or your wife): Buy airplane tickets, rent
    apartment, get passport renewed, get phones figured out ahead of time (oops,
    the last one did not happen, so you had to dick around it when you were in
    Paris). If these tasks are not accomplished, then your trip will not happen.

    It sounds as if you are just writing down our Outcomes (what I would call a
    project) and rather than writing down the tasks that pertain to that Outcomes,
    you are keeping the tasks in your head. Which means your mind is not free, it
    is cluttered with stupid little tasks that a system should be tracking rather
    than your brain. And it means every time you see the Outcome, your mind has to
    parse it into five different tasks. What a total waste of brain cycles. Why not
    parse it once, write down all of the tasks, and then never have to parse it again?

    “I have a daily schedule that is highly structured (and managed by my
    assistant) so I don’t have to spend a millisecond thinking about who I need to
    meet with, where I need to be, or what I need to schedule for later.”

    This is great, as long as you have a good assistant. Too many high level executives
    are underspending on Executive Secretaries, what I call the desecretarization
    of America. See:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/importance-of-secretaries

    So a lot of $1 million executives are so proud of themselves for making their
    own travel arrangements. Their bonus should be reduced for wasting their scarce
    time on such a low level task.

    Your comment, I suspect, is pretty useless to more readers of this blog because I expect that 99 percent of them don’t have a great assistant they trust (because they cannot afford it, great assistants are very hard to find, and/or they can afford it but they are not smart enough to realize they should hire a great assistant).

    “I also stay off the phone unless scheduled”

    Maybe this makes sense for you, but it is a bad idea for most people. Email is
    not a good way to build relationships. In person is best and telephone is a lot better than email. Maybe you don’t need to build relationships more, but most
    people do. See my essay on “What is the Most Appropriate Form of Communication”
    at:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/forms-of-communication

    In the dating context, I wrote an essay on why emails are so useless. See:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/emails-useless-judging-connection

    Most people use the telephone too little and email too much. You might be
    influential and powerful enough to not use the telephone but it’s really bad
    advice for most readers of this blog.

  • James Mitchell

    “The essential takeaway is that the new economics of
    personal productivity mean that the better organized we try to become, the more
    wasteful and inefficient we become.”

    I am certain that somewhere on the Internet there is a dumber statement than
    this one, but it would take a lot of time to find it. It’s impossible to have
    your mind free without some level of organization. 30 minutes a day sounds
    about right AFTER you spend the 2 to 30 day initial investment David Allen’s
    Getting Things Done requires. If you’re spending less than 30 minutes, either
    your life is very simple (e.g., a farmer) or you are underinvesting in organization. I spend about 30 minutes a day and it is too little. I would
    double my productivity if I invested an hour and if I were more regular at
    doing my weekly review. See my essay on David Allen at:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/david-allen

    If one has a really good assistant, then he/she can do some of this but not all of this. The President of the United States needs to spend no time on organization. But he has a staff that most of us do not.

    “In fact, I no longer have a task list. I have
    outcomes I’m going after. … I call these my Daily P1s and my Weekly P1s.”

    You’re doing it all wrong. Outcomes are not actionable. A desired outcome has
    to be translated into concrete steps. You went to Paris this year, that was
    your desired outcome. But for it to happen, a number of tasks needed to be
    accomplished (by you, your assistant and/or your wife): Buy airplane tickets, rent
    apartment, get passport renewed, get phones figured out ahead of time (oops,
    the last one did not happen, so you had to dick around it when you were in
    Paris). If these tasks are not accomplished, then your trip will not happen.

    It sounds as if you are just writing down our Outcomes (what I would call a
    project) and rather than writing down the tasks that pertain to that Outcomes,
    you are keeping the tasks in your head. Which means your mind is not free, it
    is cluttered with stupid little tasks that a system should be tracking rather
    than your brain. And it means every time you see the Outcome, your mind has to
    parse it into five different tasks. What a total waste of brain cycles. Why not
    parse it once, write down all of the tasks, and then never have to parse it again?

    “I have a daily schedule that is highly structured (and managed by my
    assistant) so I don’t have to spend a millisecond thinking about who I need to
    meet with, where I need to be, or what I need to schedule for later.”

    This is great, as long as you have a good assistant. Too many high level executives
    are underspending on Executive Secretaries, what I call the desecretarization
    of America. See:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/importance-of-secretaries

    So a lot of $1 million executives are so proud of themselves for making their
    own travel arrangements. Their bonus should be reduced for wasting their scarce
    time on such a low level task.

    Your comment, I suspect, is pretty useless to more readers of this blog because I expect that 99 percent of them don’t have a great assistant they trust (because they cannot afford it, great assistants are very hard to find, and/or they can afford it but they are not smart enough to realize they should hire a great assistant).

    “I also stay off the phone unless scheduled”

    Maybe this makes sense for you, but it is a bad idea for most people. Email is
    not a good way to build relationships. In person is best and telephone is a lot better than email. Maybe you don’t need to build relationships more, but most
    people do. See my essay on “What is the Most Appropriate Form of Communication”
    at:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/forms-of-communication

    In the dating context, I wrote an essay on why emails are so useless. See:

    http://www.jmitchell.me/my-essays/emails-useless-judging-connection

    Most people use the telephone too little and email too much. You might be
    influential and powerful enough to not use the telephone but it’s really bad
    advice for most readers of this blog.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I’m not surprised by your reaction to this based on all of your other comments.

      I’d encourage you to think a little harder about the process. For example, your statement that you would double your productivity if you doubled the amount of time you spent each day on organizing yourself begs the simple question “so why don’t you?”

      Your Paris phone example of mine is wrong. I did deal with this in advance. The solution didn’t work. I then decided to run an experiment to understand what a typical person would have to deal with. The experiment was very interesting to me – especially how absurd things were. I could have easily solved things a different way, but I chose to do the experiment.

      You assert that I’m doing it all wrong. But you are measuring based on your judgment of the process, rather than your evaluation of my productivity. Have you actually considered whether or not I’m productive using this process?

      • James Mitchell

        “ …begs the simple question “so why
        don’t you?”

        The answer is simple and obvious: I am not disciplined enough. I let the daily
        crises that go into starting a company overtake my day. And then at the end of
        the day, I don’t feel I accomplished enough. It’s like exercise. I completely
        know that I should exercise more. It doesn’t mean I actually do it. About 50
        percent of my days, I follow GTD pretty religiously, and on those days, I feel
        great. And the fact that I accomplished so much on that day spurns me on.

        “You
        assert that I’m doing it all wrong. But you are measuring based on your
        judgment of the process, rather than your evaluation of my productivity. Have
        you actually considered whether or not I’m productive using this process?”

        I would rather evaluate the process than outcomes/productivity. I know myself
        well enough to judge my productivity, but I have some difficulty judging the
        productivity of each of my staff members, who are 10 to 30 feet away from me. I
        certainly don’t know enough to judge your productivity. What I do know with
        absolute 1000 percent certainty is that David Allen has figured out some
        universal truths that apply to all people who live complex lives. So if you are
        not following the key principles of Allen, I can say with complete certainty
        that you could achieve more if you followed Allen. And as we determined in the
        last similar post, you ARE following Allen on most of his key points. If you
        were not, you would be much less productive than you are.As for your doing it all wrong, I meant on a specific issue. As we determined, you are mostly following Allen and thus you are mostly doing it right. But there are some issues on which I think it is clear you are wrong. On the specific point, am I correct in that you are just making a list
        of your outcomes rather than the tasks necessary to achieve the outcome? If
        that is true, does that not mean that each time you see the outcome you need to
        then compute in your head what the tasks are, which one should be done first,
        should I do it now, are there any predecessor tasks, etc. Would you not agree
        that this is a waste of CPU cycles? Why not just write down the tasks once,
        sort them by when they should be started, and have some system you trust then
        tell you when they need to be started? Going to Paris is not actionable, while
        purchase the tickets to Paris is. Maybe you have just subdivided your outcomes
        so that the outcome is “by the end of the day I want to have purchased the
        tickets to Paris.” In that case, you are calling a task an outcome and I would
        argue you are mislabeling it.

        The issue is not whether you are productive, it is obvious that you are. The issue
        is whether you would be more productive if you changed X or Y. An example. If I
        ever practiced law, I think I would be a pretty good lawyer, certainly better
        than most of the lawyers I have met. My dad was a lawyer and he was a great
        lawyer, a lot better than I could ever be. I am quite organized, certainly
        as compared with him, and he was very disorganized. If he had been more
        organized, he would have been even a better lawyer.

        Your post did inspire me to say, “James, you have not done a weekly review for
        a while, get your ass over to a restaurant, take all of your notebooks, and process
        everything.” Which is what I am doing now.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I’m glad my post inspired you to do your process.

          I personally measure myself on what I accomplish, not on how well I follow whatever process leads me to the outcomes.

          • James Mitchell

            Of course I agree that all matters is results. I am so devoted to GTD not because it is so intellectually interesting (although it is) but because it allows me to get a long more done.

            Let’s assume that you accomplish in one day what the second most productive person in the world accomplishes in one year. I would say, “So what? That is not what matters. What matters is whether you would accomplsih more by more following GTD done than you currently do.”

            The one thing I can say in defense of my position is that you take everyone who has been attended Allen’s seminar, and then eliminated everyone you think is in the bottom 99 percent of productivity, of the remaining 1 percent, about 99 percent of them would agree with me.

            I would love to read your answer to my question about parsing your Outcomes into tasks.

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            I don’t parse outcomes into tasks where the outcomes become tasks. I’m very comfortable with the level at which I conceptualize the tasks. For example, when I write a blog post, there are a number of tasks to complete, yet “write a blog post” is granular enough for me.

          • James Mitchell

            “Write a blog post: is not a good example because it is a task, assuming you just sit down and write. In most cases, it cannot be broken down further. In that case, one task – outcome.

            Let’s take an outcome: “Get the startup visa concept enacted into federal law.” That outcomes involves dozens if not hundreds of tasks. If you’re mentally composing in your head all of the tasks whenever you read that on your outcome list, then you are wasting a lot of time!

            The best analogy I can come up with is a compiler rather than an interpreter. With a compiled program, the computer compiles once, generates the machine code, and you don’t need to compile as long as you have not changed the code. With an interpreter, the computer has to generate the machine code each time you run the program. With computers, this usually does not matter, because computers are now so powerful. But the capacity of your brain has not increased at the rate CPUs have

      • James Mitchell

        “ …begs the simple question “so why
        don’t you?”

        The answer is simple and obvious: I am not disciplined enough. I let the daily
        crises that go into starting a company overtake my day. And then at the end of
        the day, I don’t feel I accomplished enough. It’s like exercise. I completely
        know that I should exercise more. It doesn’t mean I actually do it. About 50
        percent of my days, I follow GTD pretty religiously, and on those days, I feel
        great. And the fact that I accomplished so much on that day spurns me on.

        “You
        assert that I’m doing it all wrong. But you are measuring based on your
        judgment of the process, rather than your evaluation of my productivity. Have
        you actually considered whether or not I’m productive using this process?”

        I would rather evaluate the process than outcomes/productivity. I know myself
        well enough to judge my productivity, but I have some difficulty judging the
        productivity of each of my staff members, who are 10 to 30 feet away from me. I
        certainly don’t know enough to judge your productivity. What I do know with
        absolute 1000 percent certainty is that David Allen has figured out some
        universal truths that apply to all people who live complex lives. So if you are
        not following the key principles of Allen, I can say with complete certainty
        that you could achieve more if you followed Allen. And as we determined in the
        last similar post, you ARE following Allen on most of his key points. If you
        were not, you would be much less productive than you are.As for your doing it all wrong, I meant on a specific issue. As we determined, you are mostly following Allen and thus you are mostly doing it right. But there are some issues on which I think it is clear you are wrong. On the specific point, am I correct in that you are just making a list
        of your outcomes rather than the tasks necessary to achieve the outcome? If
        that is true, does that not mean that each time you see the outcome you need to
        then compute in your head what the tasks are, which one should be done first,
        should I do it now, are there any predecessor tasks, etc. Would you not agree
        that this is a waste of CPU cycles? Why not just write down the tasks once,
        sort them by when they should be started, and have some system you trust then
        tell you when they need to be started? Going to Paris is not actionable, while
        purchase the tickets to Paris is. Maybe you have just subdivided your outcomes
        so that the outcome is “by the end of the day I want to have purchased the
        tickets to Paris.” In that case, you are calling a task an outcome and I would
        argue you are mislabeling it.

        The issue is not whether you are productive, it is obvious that you are. The issue
        is whether you would be more productive if you changed X or Y. An example. If I
        ever practiced law, I think I would be a pretty good lawyer, certainly better
        than most of the lawyers I have met. My dad was a lawyer and he was a great
        lawyer, a lot better than I could ever be. I am quite organized, certainly
        as compared with him, and he was very disorganized. If he had been more
        organized, he would have been even a better lawyer.

        Your post did inspire me to say, “James, you have not done a weekly review for
        a while, get your ass over to a restaurant, take all of your notebooks, and process
        everything.” Which is what I am doing now.

      • James Mitchell

        One addiitonal point — Given that there are many days where I do not follow Allen, and that we have established you do follow Allen in so many ways, it’s quite possible you follow him more than I do.

    • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

      “I expect that 99 percent of them don’t have a great assistant they trust (because they cannot afford it)”

      I’ve had many yrs where I travel a lot (every week, multiple flights, hotels, rental cars +/or cabs), so I def appreciate having an assistant handle all that.  In my case, it was my wife.  Win-win, as she’d (just like Kelly does for Brad) book me according to my prefs, allowing me to ‘just show up’ + maximize my billable hours.

      Not everyone needs to pay for such a great assistant, tho personally knowing Kelly (a bit, hey), I’ll state that if you can find + afford a ‘Kelly’, don’t hesitate – get her on staff ASAP.

      • James Mitchell

        As for true executive assistants, who will manage a significant part of your life — When you hire someone, your cost is salary plus the time you spend training and managing them. The assistant role is an unusual one in that the payoff (the benefity they provide to you being great than the salary and the time your invest) usually occurs several years down the road, after massive input by you into training them. So I have always hesistated to hire the kind of assistant I really want because if they leave after two years, I am screwed.

        So that’s where spouses come into play. Presumably if you get married, you expect them to be around for a long period of time. So it makes sense to spend the massive amount of time it takes to transfer knowledge of how you would like things done. Assuming, of course, they are willing to do this.

        As so many articles point out, the most successful male business executives are those who married early and stay married. They’ve had a COO helping them as they moved up the corporate hierarchy.

        • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

          I had an external EA for abt a year around 2000, when I was CEO w/ 16 employees.  She was very good at managing my schedule etc, no doubt, but my wife was/is simply better.

  • Bruno Aziza

    Great post.  Especially as it flies in the face of common wisdom or books like ‘Getting Things Done’.  

    I have a set of rules that I follow in order to get rid of standard distraction.  For instance:1) Put all my goals (work/personal) on my calendar and like you follow what my calendar tells me to do.2) Turn to email and other social networks only a few times per day.  3) Check email on my phone which allows me to respond briefly only if necessary.4) Audit where i’ve spent my time at least, once a quarter.  A few months ago, we released a tool that helps knowledge workers audit their calendar. We’ve found that most people’s tasks are poorly aligned to their goals (this provides an even bigger justification for the logic behind your post).Check out the tool @ http://youtu.be/v5sjEu5koGU when you have time – (it’s free).  i’m not sure that you use exchange, but if you do, I hope it can help!Best@brunoaziza:disqus 

  • http://technbiz.blogspot.com paramendra

    I like that thing about staying away from the phone. :-) 

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    “…if you spend time with me for a day it’s likely that the only time I’m on the phone is…”

    In the 6 or so yrs we’ve known each other, we’ve had, what – 3 phone calls?  Hundreds (a thousand?) of useful email contacts (w/ occasional silliness), dozens of in-person interactions + 3 freaking phone calls.

    So – the ‘hardly any phone time’ deal does actually work.

    • http://www.clickbrain.com ClickBrain

      Bravo! I make it clear to everyone I know that I despise the phone for getting things done, so they aren’t offended when I end calls rapidly. For some reason people feel the need to turn a 20 second conversation into a 10 minute one on the phone. I have no idea why that is the case. Please get to the point. 

  • James Mitchell

    Imagine Brad in charge of a complex project, such as building a nuclear submarine or running the next Olympics. “Guys, we don’t need to waste our time preparing a list of task, just think about the outcome and we will be fine.”

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      You are so profoundly missing the point of this. Oh well.

  • Papertissue

    From my perspective, it seems like there’s a contradiction. Your assistant runs your schedule so it’s highly structured (i.e. organized). Your strong conceptual hierarchy allows you to make instantaneous decisions on what you need to do – you are still organizing tasks, only it’s subconsciously/in the background.

    Yes, you focus on outcomes. But it appears you also are highly organized on your tasks without knowing it. 

    You are so effective BECAUSE you are organized with your tasks, not because you are not. 

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Actually, I know that I’m highly organized. I just spend no time on the organization aspect of it. That’s the magic message in the article.

      • Anonymous

        Paper

  • http://about.me/nelking Nancy King

    GSD = Working towards outcomes.   That’s all I need to remember.  

  • Brandon Burns

    you’ve given order, ironically, to how i think about the way i do things. 

    unfortunately, “organizers” are really good at making the rest of us feel bad about our lack of lists and agendas (or maybe it’s self-inflicted?). thanks for helping me feel like i’m not some disheveled idiot. :-)

  • http://is.linkedin.com/in/balakamallakharan Bala

    I stopped organizing when I could search for content in my computer or the internet. I do exactly as you mentioned, I call them goals that I want to achieve every week. it is easier to plan on a weekly basis than daily but I prioritize them based on my principles. Exactly as Dr.Stephen Covey explains in his time management section of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people. 

  • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

    I couldn’t agree more.  i have long drawn a distinction between people who are ‘efficient’ and people who are ‘effective.’  What’s the point of being efficient if you are doing the wrong thing?  The key to being effective is focusing on the right thing.  What’s the right thing?  That’s the whole point!

  • Anonymous

    I do think the article makes a bit of a false distinction between spending time organizing and spending time doing.  For me, spending a little time here and there organizing means that I am free to work towards the important outcomes more effectively since I don’t have a jumbled mess of other stuff in my mind (a la David Allen, Getting Things Done).  But I totally agree that hours spent on task lists are hours wasted. We need to run our own systems…not the other way around.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Well said.

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Brad, in light of this post, would appreciate your take on irunurun.  Similar to your reference to time wasted on organizing, we think a lot of people waste time obsessing over goals and results…as opposed to aligning themselves with the skills, talents, and behaviors (personal and professional habits) that will put them on the path to those results. We don’t care what day, what time, what order…just that you invest in the big rocks.  The results will take care of themselves.  I’d appreciate your $.02!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I took a look at the video. Constructive feedback follows: do more “showing” of the app and less setup (I didn’t need to 60 second pre-roll).
      I generally get it. It’s too structured for my tastes, but for workgroups or individuals who want that kind of structure around their objectives and outcomes, it looks like it could be effective.

  • http://thorboo.com/ Thorboo

    great post! 

    Guess I should get an assistant, so I can follow your advice… ;)

  • http://twitter.com/ktinboulder Kelly Taylor

    “It’s not that we’re becoming too dependent on our technologies to organize us; it’s that we haven’t become dependent enough.”

    A good example of this is the new iOS “Reminders” app.  Don’t sift through lists trying to organize groups of errands, instead rely on the phone to tell you when you are nearby enabling you to make a decision of whether or not to do the thing.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Great example! It surprised and pleases me every time I use it.

  • Brandog

    Brad, I think it is a careful balance. I wouldn’t get to carried away with the agile approach. Goals and Objectives are outcomes. But how do you accomplish an outcome if there isn’t a course of action (i.e. Strategy and Tactics). Otherwise everybody is pulling different directions. It is important to be agile and reactive, but also have measurable goals and outcomes supported by Strategies and tactics. 

    Take a look at the Business Motivation Model (BMM) it has a great balance. 

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