I recently had the opportunity to work with Duane Reed, the Founder at Inside Success Training and Consulting, Inc. and the President of CEO Focus. He asked a great question. While most businesses are looking at opportunities for growth, Duane asks "What's your business velocity?" A car stuck in first gear will eventually travel a great distance, but how fast does your car or, in this case, your business run normally without overheating (late nights, communication mishaps, deadline scrambles)?
After all, being at the right place at the right time is how you tap those new business opportunities, but you need the infrastructure to adjust course and travel there efficiently.
A lot of this has to do with good decision-making: isolating a few reasonable alternatives and being able to compare them in an objective, informed environment. Duane recommends developing an infrastructure to make good decisions, as businesses struggle more often, not because they make poor decisions, but because they fail to make decisions in the first place.
One excellent resource for businesses in this regard is Second Opinion, which offers a lot of unique decision-making resources. This innovative company has replaced the old model of decision-making in which leaders must rely on input from people too close to be objective, uninformed opinions or high-priced consultants.
Other ways Duane lists to increase your business velocity are deepening relationships with your existing clients, increasing your product offerings and cutting costs, but he says that decision-making is often the linchpin. If you can improve the infrastructure behind your decision-making, you can travel much faster, more reliably, just as if your car had gotten a brand new transition.
(Photo by Mattia Righetti on Unsplash)
I took a Brian Tracy class on Effectiveness, and at the time I really dove into the Eisenhower Matrix. I added a picture to a new tab in OneNote called "Daily Priorities," and resolved to use it during a "Power Hour" I began scheduling every weekday morning.
Several years later in this seasonal time of new beginnings, I realize I've underutilized it and can get much more out of it. I still do my Power Hour (most mornings), and one of the tasks is to review Daily Priorities, but I would generally be too busy, still scrambling to finish yesterday's priorities, to think a lot about urgent vs. important.
But this morning I read an article by James Clear that updated the matrix with action verbs in consonance: Do, Decide, Delegate and Delete. That's a phrase even I can recall quickly.
I also liked the article's observation that elimination (starting with the bottom two quadrants) is more important than optimization, quoting Kevlin Henney's quip regarding programming that “There is no code faster than no code." He also touches on an issue I have of wanting to work faster rather than smarter:
"Too often, we use productivity, time management, and optimization as an excuse to avoid the really difficult question: 'Do I actually need to be doing this?' It is much easier to remain busy and tell yourself that you just need to be a little more efficient or to “work a little later tonight” than to endure the pain of eliminating a task that you are comfortable with doing, but that isn’t the highest and best use of your time. As Tim Ferriss says, 'Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.'
I took a deeper dive and found another article that suggested limiting each quadrant to no more than 8 tasks and another, by Michele McDonough, that pointed to the matrix's chief point of failure: categorizing tasks consistently, which I had not seen the value of before and, consequently, passively deleted out of my matrix routine. To counter this, she gives very tangible definitions of "urgent" vs. "important.": "A task is considered important if your goals are furthered by completing it....[while a task] is considered to be urgent if you or someone else feels it needs to be addressed immediately."
Of course, probably no one has written more about the Eisenhower Matrix than Stephen Covey who covered the concept well in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First but, surprisingly, didn't seem to mention President Eisenhower's invention of the concept. Perhaps that's because the former President accomplished too much to be thought of as merely a project manager.
Tom McClintock is the owner and founder of Relationship Martech.