A Year-end Look at Perspective, Priorities, and Productivity by Kelly Barner

Posted on December 5, 2013


Editor’s Note: Well Kelly Barner has done it again! Just when I think that her writing could not get any better she blows my mind with what I consider to be one of the most interesting posts I have read anywhere this past year.

Besides infusing a contextually entertaining reference in the form of the movie Working Girl – which I thought was great – she then hits on an area that is not only one of my passions but, was the basis for my government funded research that started back in the late 90s.

For those of you who have been following this blog for some time, you will know that I am referring to my theory of strand commonality, which presumes that there are attributes in seemingly unrelated event or data streams that are collectively linked to produce a predicted outcome.  Click on the highlighted “strand commonality” reference to learn more.

In the meantime, as you read Kelly’s post, ask yourself this question; do I think dynamically like Griffith, or sequentially like Weaver?

Are you dynamic or sequential in your thinking . . .

Are you dynamic or sequential in your thinking . . .

One of my favorite movies – at least of the ones with a business slant – is Working Girl. In the movie, Melanie Griffith plays a secretary with dreams and potential far beyond her current role. When she comes up with a truly creative idea – convincing client Trask Industries to advertise on radio rather than the TV spots they planned – her boss (Sigourney Weaver) intends to steal the idea and pass it off as her own. After skiing accidents, mistaken identities, love matches and more, both women are trying to prove that the idea is theirs.

When asked how she came up with the idea, Weaver gives an evasive response – I don’t remember, I have to check my files, etc. Griffith on the other hand has a specific (if somewhat disjointed) response involving newspaper clippings and her own thought process connecting them into the major business opportunity they have become. The truth comes to light, Weaver is fired, Griffith gets an entry-level executive position, oh yes, and a happy ending with leading man Harrison Ford.

The magic connecting the fictional Trask and radio advertising is something I think about often. Not because I’m recommending any of the eProcurement solution providers give up their social media marketing campaigns in favor of radio jingles, but because of the value potential each of us has is locked up in our ability to make unique connections between seemingly disconnected ideas.

The effort required to create something is daunting to say the least. Do you want to do something really innovative? Or approach a problem in a way that no one else ever has? The answer to generating a new output is found in a new combination of new inputs. Absorbing information beyond your company is critical to your ability to get a fresh perspective on the challenges inside it.

I already know what you are thinking, who has time for that? There is an incredible amount of competition for practitioner attention. There are webinars, books, blogs, conferences, journals, and newspapers. Some of them are discipline specific, others are industry specific, and plenty more are general media. Information overload lurks around every corner, and yet, your ability to take in, digest, and apply some of the things you read and hear creates a competitive advantage.

In the same way that taking a lunch break allows your mind to process thoughts in a new way simply because you are in new surroundings, reading relevant content helps you keep an eye to the bigger picture. I’m amazed at the connections I find in the content I’m exposed to. Some of my best work is the result of chance: when attending a webinar gives me a fresh perspective on a book I’m reading.

Getting our work done will always be the priority, but being able to work smarter gets you one step closer to the elusive ‘value creation’ we all seek. How can you make time in your schedule to read more and to think about what you’ve read?

My advice is to get all of your task management and productivity efforts off your desk. Use an app or your calendar function and set up reminders. Don’t waste space in your head trying to remember to remember to get something done. Write yourself notes. Minimize the number of meetings you attend, or get in the habit of booking meetings for half an hour rather than an hour. Don’t feel guilty for blocking time in your calendar, directing your phone to voicemail, or working from a conference room a few hours a week. The improved end result will be all the justification you need.

The end of 2013 is approaching with blinding speed. Before you know it, we’ll be making New Year’s resolutions – some of which are likely to be professional. When the end of 2014 arrives, how do you want to feel about the year yet to come? Now is the time to decide and to set yourself up to make it happen.

Trask and radio. It’s just crazy enough to work. What new connection will you make in 2014?


Posted in: Guest Posting