If you are reading this post you likely lead a professional services team or a team of knowledge workers. For your organization, value creation is how you remain relevant to your clients, to your market. You must consistently create new IP.
These days, we are all very busy and have the illusion of productivity. Feelings of overwhelm and stress are all too common. Today, 67% of N. American workers are on the road to near term burnout. This is because of the mistake I see professional teams make. They don’t know exactly how they spend their time. People just start working on what they think is their major task, which often is “I have to be in that meeting” or “I have to answer these emails.”
When I was in the corporate world I made this mistake all the time. I felt busy working…..but I was not considering if my activities are actually contributing to creating the highest value. I did not reflect whether I am working on the products, deliverables or services that I was hired to create and that I love working on.
Not knowing how time is spent is a mistake because we will often default to prioritizing logistical tasks like email and instant messaging. Creative work gets put on the back burner, rendering the value creation process inefficient. It’s exhausting. Frankly it’s decreasing wellbeing. How many people do you know who end up working at night or on weekends to get the valuable stuff done?
My mistake in thinking was that I believed it’s the only way. I thought, “I can’t control the emails, the meetings or the interruptions.” However, I believe it doesn’t have to be this way.
We all perform a combination of logistical work and deep work. Deep work consists of professional activities that are cognitively demanding. These activities create new value and are hard to replicate.
Your innovative organization creates new products or technology….. or…… you serve clients with thought leadership and strategic advice. So, for you and your teams, doing the right amount of deep work is critical.
Consider which activities require a focused, distraction free environment.
Have everyone on the team draw their current value creation portfolio. This is much like a stock portfolio. It is a pie chart showing the portfolio of work, i.e. the investments in logistical work and the investments in deep work. Both investments are always in the portfolio. The mix of activities depends on the job.
Once your current pie chart is clear, ask yourself, is this the right balance of the portfolio? How about for the team? If the current value creation portfolio is not designed for sufficient investments in deep work, map out what the future state portfolio can be for each team member. Then create a visual of the future state team portfolio. Is the balance correct based on the value creation you want to achieve? If not, look back at the job roles and make adjustments so that the future state is achievable.
However, note this! Don’t think anyone can just start doing eight hours of deep work per day. The human brain can only manage between one and four. For the average person, two hours is achievable. In time, if each individual’s focus muscle is trained, deep work can increase.
How focused are you? Find out in 2 minutes. Take the Focus Scorecard.