Time Travel – And Other Workplace Myths

Yesterday my friend Heather Bussing posted a link to a great little post by Scott Berkun titled ‘What Work Traditions Need To Go Away?‘ There’s loads of good stuff in the post, and in particular the challenge to ‘hour long meetings by default’, caught my eye. Last week I ran a workshop called ‘It’s Good to Talk – So Why Don’t We?’ for clients of the law firm Boyes Turner. The session was a mix of culture, behaviour and method around one of my favourite subjects, having more productive conversations at work.

During the workshop we observed that typically, people allow their diaries to be filled with back to back meetings, from 09:00 to 10:00, from 10:00 to 11:00 and so on, often running right through the day. I’m curious, how do you get from one meeting that finishes at 10:00 to another that starts at 10:00? Without the benefit of time travel, which I’m pretty sure is as yet not invented, you can’t. And at what point during your 09:00 meeting do you mentally disengage from what is going on around you in order to prepare for your 10:00? You can see where this is going, can’t you? Straight to some kind of Outlook Calendar invite infested, counter productive, unhealthy hell. And yet you persist with it. I persist with it. We all persist with it.

During the workshop, the short term fix we proposed was, if meetings are to start on the hour, then they need to finish by five to the next hour, at the absolute latest. Granted – this is a sticking plaster solution to a much deeper slavish cultural attitude, but at least this way, you get five minutes to walk from your 09:00 to your 10:00.

The Workplace Myth theme has also been on Neil Usher‘s mind too. Neil has co-created an wonderful Storify centred on #workplacemyths. It is recommended reading, festooned as it is with humour, agony, cartoons and a wonderfully sad video called Misery Bear Goes To Work.

I love how the separate togetherness of the Internet threads all this wonder together, and I encourage you to check out Scott’s post, and Neil’s emerging Storify. I’d love to hear from you too, if you have the time of course šŸ˜‰

photo credit

A Song About Work

Many, many, many months ago I was invited to give the closing talk and a song at Workplace Trends 2012. I agreed, even though I’ve not performed a song in conference for a while – it all seemed so far away, saying yes was easy…

The event approached and I prepared my talk like crazy. I love to practice, practice, practice these things, and simultaneously I love to leave spaces in the flow. Spaces where spontaneity can and will occur, spaces where I canĀ referenceĀ other things I’ve learned at the event, spaces in the flow are vital for me to be able to give my best. The certainty of uncertainty. The talk seemed to go well and soon you can be the judge as I’m in theĀ processĀ ofĀ editing a short film of it – watch this space.

I also prepared a song, a piece that Neil Usher wrote the lyrics for. I’ve played this song a couple of times previously and never quite got to grips with it, so for this event I was determined to crack it. I practiced, practiced, practiced, and although I felt I was getting better at delivering the song, I still wasn’t happy with it. So in the end, I decided to apply a similar ‘leave spaces’ theory to the song, as I do for a talk. What this meant was that in the moment, as I nervously played the song, I fiddled with the tune and I also left a verse out. No one knew apart from me – but what the good people at Workplace Trends got was a one off.

Here’s the song in case you fancy a listen.Ā I took a big risk with this and I think it worked, judging by the reaction at the finish, the audience appreciated it.

The video was shot by my good friend George Brent. George runs GB Audio Visual – a great company doing top drawer AV work.

Sweet Tweets

I participated in the fourth ConnectingHR Unconference yesterday. It was great, useful and fun. There’s a super write up about The Buzz in the Room by Alison Chisnell. I’m sure lots more blogs and other content will emerge very soon, for now I’d like to share just a few tweets that resonated with me:

@charlie_elise: Negative capability – being able to cope with uncertainty. >>When you relax into this, it is great fun.

@workessence: If you can’t measure it, its probably interesting. >>Yep! Worth a look at least.

Respect me, not my authority! >>Eric Cartman might not agree

Trust. Role model it upwards, don’t wait for the CEO. Doing what we say we will is everyone’s job.

I feel the need to meet! Community thrives on some eye contact.

Overheard: if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for everything. >>Subsequently discovered this was said by @sarmason

I’ve eaten my own weight in biscuits today @alisonchisnell

If a particular tweet or two caught your eye from yesterday’s event – please share it.