The pursuit of productivity is never just a goal in and of itself.
It is possible to whip off lots of items from your “to do” list and not actually accomplish anything of true merit. In fact, there are two things necessary to ensure that your productivity skills are being used for meaningful work. The first is to be clear on strategy, mission and objectives. The second is more subtle, but probably more impactful. It is to understand the current reality. If the truth of the situation is misunderstood, strategy is moot.
In a blog post earlier this year, David Allen of GTD fame mapped out the case for current reality. He notes that many problems stem from a lack of understanding the exact nature of what is really going on.
Companies, departments, and individuals may have big goals, even well expressed, and yet there can be a lack of energy, or a lack of real actions being defined and in motion. Groups bicker about the smallest things and can’t seem to get in gear. And the biggest problem about this is that they don’t know what the problem is. They are probably trying to build a house on sand. There’s no stake in the ground. There’s no traction.
To overcome this problem, David believes it necessary to unearth the relevant facts about the situation, even if they are hard to face. Only then can a person or group move forward.
The great challenge is to face current reality head on without letting it “get to you” and cause you to program the next one as no better. Bean counters are a critical component to the team. You need to know how many beans you have. But if all you’re doing is just protecting your current beans, soon you may not have any more beans to count. You cannot drive by just looking at the rearview mirror.
Read the entire blog post at the Getting Things Done web site.