I estimate that throughout my career roughly 60% of my work has been frittered away on useless assignments. Some of it’s my fault; most of it is the fault of those above and below me. Far too often I’ve been asked to drop everything and gather data or attend a meeting or talk to someone or reinvent an entire process, and it all turns out to be for naught. Zero. Less than zero, in fact, because all that time I could have spent doing something productive and valuable is gone. And the work I should have been focused on is not done.
I’m not saying this because I’m doing any better. I know I’ve been the noise for my managers and my staff. What I’m really interested in is how we got to this point (causation has always been a fascinating subject to me), and, most importantly, how do we fix it? How do we cut through the noise to focus on those things which either definitively provide value—or, conversely, which we consciously acknowledge be to creative ventures that require uninterrupted non-productive intellectual space?
How do we have the brave conversations with the right people to regain the quiet, recapture the focus, and actually get some work done? Ideas, anyone?