How to Get Workflow Under Control – From Inbox to Done

Just a quick note that a short article I wrote was published in the ALA’s Learning Exchange Newsletter – December 2019. It is titled How to Get Workflow Under Control – From Inbox to Done. The core of the article is a brief summary of the GTD Five Stages of Workflow.

Workflow is a concept that simply refers to how we move things from ideas to actions.  One of the simplest workflow systems available is known as GTD, short for Getting Things Done.  David Allen, a former management consultant, devised the system over twenty years ago and it has developed into one of the most heavily used approaches to handling knowledge work.  Implementing the system requires very little set up time and can be done in any office situation.   The system is immortalized in his famous book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

If you haven’t reviewed the five stages recently, or are new to the concept, take a few minutes to read the article. I posted it on my site for easy reading. It might inspire you to get some things done!

Why People Cooperate

Think of the last time you cooperated with someone? It was probably a friend, family member, or work colleague. If we want to retain good relations with close individuals, cooperation is the natural thing to do. However, our lives lead us into situations where we interact with strangers. How do we decide if we should cooperate then?

In an article on his blog, David Perell explores why we cooperate with others. While pursuing the question, he came to this discovery:

“Cooperation is determined by the length and frequency of interactions. If two individuals are likely to meet again, they will likely cooperate. If not, they likely won’t. “

David Perell

Regardless of the situation, there is a research tested scientific strategy for cooperation. It is a classic conflict model known as Tit for Tat.

“Believe it or not, there’s an optimal way to behave in repeated interactions.  This simple strategy is called Tit for Tat. Reciprocity is the name of the game. Under the rules of Tit-for-Tat, players cooperate on the first move in a series of repeated interactions. Then, they mirror the other player in every subsequent move. After the first interaction, if the other person cooperates, they cooperate. If the other person defects, they defect. It’s simple.”

I was drawn to this article for a very personal reason. In my college days at the University of Toronto I studied Tit for Tat under one of its premier researchers, Anatol Rappaport. He was an amazing college professor and remains today one of my favorite teachers ever. Rappaport developed computer simulations that proved the power of Tit for Tat. Unfortunately, the Professor passed away many years ago.

Read the rest of David’s article on his blog.

The Culture Secret – Legos!

Did you play with Legos as a kid?  I grew up with those multi-colored blocks carelessly scattered around as my siblings and I took them from room to room in our endless youthful play times.  Those plastic building block toys have been entertaining children for generations.  

However, did you know that Legos hold the secret to understanding why some organizations develop strong dynamic cultures while the majority of others flounder?

For my final Write of Passage assignment, I prepared a short article based on my research on how to build a strong culture at work.  Read the article to learn how Legos provide a vital clue to creating a motivated organizational culture.

When you are finished reading, you might be inspired to build one of the biggest Lego sets available – the Millennium Falcon!

eBook Warfare

(Original Post had a broken link to the article. It has been corrected here.)

For my recent Write of Passage assignment, I was tasked with writing about something that is changing in the world. So I choose a topic that is important to me as a librarian and to all public library members across the country. It has to do with accessibility to eBooks.

Have you ever heard of a business flat out refusing to sell their product to a reliable and well-funded customer? 

Sounds like a crazy way to do business.  However, that is the case right now between some publishers and libraries.  Several major publishing houses have set up a business model to make it difficult and expensive for public libraries to purchase eBooks.   One of the largest publishers in the world completely refuses to sell any eBooks to public libraries.

To learn more about this conflict between libraries and publisher, please read my recent short article on my web site.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The Kernel of Creativity

We use the word a lot, but what exactly is creativity?  It seems like everyone wants more of it from ourselves and our colleagues, but it is not like a faucet that can be turned on at will.  David Allen used a recent blog post to ponder the subject:

“The time and energy required for creating something goes through a cycle, one that is seldom as easy or as immediately evident and as clear as I would like to imagine it is. … I still don’t know much intellectually about the nature of that creative process. What is the underlying principle at work here? Why do we seem to have to work so hard to get the kernel? And my interest in productivity causes me to ask how I can get to it faster, easier, more effectively, with less mess and the frustrations that often accompany it.”

blur business coffee commerce

While reading David Allen’s post, I was reminded of an article from David Perell.  He explored the topic in a post called, The Magic Moment.  In the article he brought up the idea of inspiration.

“The Magic Moment is a moment where you have the freedom to create without the demands of publishing. You can’t predict a Magic Moment. They’re spawned by long periods of incubation, but they strike when the mind is at rest. They’re likely to come when you’re showering, driving, or exercising because that’s when the mind is at rest and you can finally hear yourself think. Like a surfer in the ocean, when a special wave swells up, you have to catch it and ride it to shore.”

Creativity is a large and fascinating topic.   I challenge you to think about your relationship with creativity?  When is it easiest for you to be creative?  When it is hardest?  Finally, what do you do when the moment of inspiration strikes?

 

Malcolm Gladwell – The Fascinatingly Flawed Intellectual

I’m interested in collecting interesting stories, and … collecting interesting research. What I’m looking for is cases where they overlap.

Malcolm_Gladwell_2014_(cropped)I love reading and listening to the works of Malcolm Gladwell.  Perhaps it is because he is an unabashed intellectual who makes his work accessible to all.  It could be that his flair for storytelling keeps me engaged to the very end.  It could even be that we both grew up in Canada!

For my recent Write of Passage assignment, I decided to provide a condensed look at Malcolm Gladwell’s books and share how his ideas may sometimes be wrong, but are always thought provoking.  For example, here is the start of the quick summary for his book Outliers.

“Why do some people skyrocket to success while most others barely get off the ground?  In this book, Gladwell explores an unseen side of success. While the American Dream narrative relates success to hard work and indomitable spirit, Gladwell spends time highlighting how uncontrollable factors such as the month of your birth, fortuitous family relations, and cultural heritage may be more significant.”

Read the rest of the article here.

 

Let’s Be Frank – Leadership Is Not For Everyone

Do you think anyone can be a leader?

A trend I see across leadership courses and books is the assumption that anyone can become a leader if they want to be one.  I concede that everyone should at least be good enough to lead their own lives.  However, leading other people is a skill that perhaps some people will never master.

For the next assignment in the Write of Passage course, we were asked to write an article that challenged conventional wisdom.  So I decided to take on what I consider a flawed  core assumption of many leadership courses.  As I wrote:

“The core flawed assumption may best be expressed with a quote from John Maxwell:

“If you want to be a leader, the good news is that you can do it. Everyone has the potential, but it isn’t accomplished overnight. It requires perseverance.” John C. Maxwell

My two questions are these: Why do we assume that everyone can be a leader?  Also, why are the psychological burdens of leadership rarely discussed?”

boring meeting

Read the rest of the article here, and feel free to share your thoughts on the topic in the comment section.