Innovative cultures and the Brand Me working style



Is this a test for productivity?

Is this a test for productive working cultures?

 I worked from home today, which gave me some perspective about the way that I like to work as well as the ideals of the Brand Me theory that I have spoken about on this blog before. I awoke this morning feeling a little crook, and so (full disclosure here), took myself down to the doctors where I had a urine sample taken. I’ve felt quite sore in my kidneys these past few weeks, so thought it wise to get it tested.

After the test, I felt quite jubilant as I had the whole day in front of me, and was pumped to get on with some work which has been sitting in the in tray for far too long. At World Vision HQ, we are slowly but surely breeding an innovative culture, and the open office plan helps with that. However, I feel that sometimes it also gets in the way of achieveing some real work. Sometimes. I find it hard, often, to be mindfull in the office and to really get into the ‘flow’ of things, as Daniel Golman speaks about in his book, Working With Emotional Intelligence. He describes it as:

“Flow blossoms when our skills are fully engaged and then some – say, by a work project that stretches us in new and challenging ways. The challenge absorbs us so much we lose ourselves in our work, becoming so totally concentrated we may feel ‘out of time.’ In this state we seem to mandle everything effortlessly, nimbly adopting to shifting demands. Flow itself is a pleasure.’

I love this description, and think it apt for my situation today. Having arrived home, I logged on and responded to an email from work about a present opportunity that came up today. I thought I answered it well, and efficiently. I read widely through my RSS reader (I am loving the Outlook RSS that is included through feedburner. It’s a winner!), checked out some of those emails which have been sitting dormant for far too long, and generally maintained ‘The Squiggly Line’ business…mine.

I felt alive, and very mindfull and looking forward to having a crack at the Digital Content Strategy I have been working on at WVA for the past month. It’s a piece of work I have had trouble getting into at the office, as it has required a fair space for thought. I jumped in at about 5:30pm (yes, not in work hours!) and completed the thing in about 3 hours. I feel chuffed with the results and look forward to showing it off tomorrow (yes, my ego loves it!). Yeah, I worked (on work stuff, how ‘boring’) till 8:30 and yeah, I probably didn’t do my full ‘8 Hours work’ but I think the quality of work I produced and the way I produced it has lead to much better results. That work is something I feel proud of, which is not to say that I don’t feel proud of stuff I do at the office. But often, especially lately, I have felt that I have been putting out fires and being reactive rather than proactive when things just needed to be done.

I love working where I do, and being part of the conversations and discussions about our new strategy and innovation is the highlight of my week. I’m a big fan of the open office plan, where innovation and communication are allowed to flourish. But, I think we need to be more aware of our cultures and the environments that flourish from them and, especially as players in this new talent revolution, how we react being in one culture for too long.

Response to Ergo Blog: Long weekends and Living Assets

Very interesting topic of discussion @ the ergo blog. Read Col’s post before reading my response below.

I remember hearing Marcus Blackmore (chairman and founder of Blackmores) speak at a CSR conference I attended last year about his attitude towards ‘soft’ assets and their associated upkeep. His point of view was that each staff member of Blackmores was to be ‘valued’ at 50k…on top of their salary. His figuring here was:
– that to fully and properly replace a member of staff might cost about 1-2k in recruitment costs (more if you use a talent agency, which can charge upto 20% commission on the first year of salary of new hires)
– That when the new person hit deck, they would take time to get fully up to speed with the operation and flow of the business. This time, he conservatively reckoned, could be anywhere up-to 4 months.
– That when an ‘old hand’ leaves, often they have been filling many different roles and functions, which need to be covered at a cost to the organisation. At World Vision recently we have had one of our team, Bev, leave to further grow her own spiritual well-being business (which is booming, by the way). To replace Bev, we have had to distribute her role to no less than 4 different functions around the business.

All up, I actually think his 50K figure sounds quite conservative!!!

Then, in what I now take to be a great example of LAS, he used that assumption to justify the building of a new office and manufacturing space, with a total bill of 50k x the number of staff at Blackmores. (Blackmores, I think, has about 300-500 staff. I’m not sure exactly.)

His feelings were that if Blackmores could create an environment where his staff would want to be, and where they would feel happy and energised working, he could bring down the cost of losing his great people, and the cost associated with capturing the most talented in his industry. For memory, under his assumptions, the great outlay involved in building such an environment was completely rational under the old ideas of the traditional business paradigm – even profitable. And that’s not mention the associated productivity gains generated from such an environment and the savings from being more vertically integrated (office and manufacturing in one place.)

A great topic of discussion, that’s for sure. What are your thoughts?

Time is money, life, mindfullness and such…

I came across this NT Times article link, as posted by Stoye Bowd originally here. It links very closely with the idea of Mindfulness which I have been learning about now for the past 3-4 months. It’s an ongoing process, and also links well with what Col recently said at the Ergo blog. Many links, but great reading.

I think in business and life in general we need to be more aware of how we use our time…not in the normal sense (i.e – the Time is Money idiom so prevalent as eluded to in the Stowe Boyd link), but in the sense of how we focus our thinking and self to be more in the current time. This paragraph was especially relevant…

“Studies have shown the alarming extent of the problem: office workers are no longer able to stay focused on one specific task for more than about three minutes, which means a great loss of productivity. The misguided notion that time is money actually costs us money.”

I am surprised it is as high as 3 minutes. Especially in open offices. Sometimes, I think that environment can render the brains thinking process into something like this…We need to think constantly about, well, our thinking!

The brain in an open office?