Ranchers and Farmers…living together!

Nice post here by Hass Chapman on hunter-gatherers, play & software development.   I can definitely relate to the way of working outlined.  While we were hunter-gatherers, we did take to agriculture eventually. 

That move is not natural for me, though.  I’m more of a rancher than a farmer.   The challenge for me, therefore, is how to accommodate other styles of work. 

To highlight potential role mismatches, I fall back on models like the “finders, grinders, minders” consulting model David Maister popularized.   Consulting comes to mind because I’ve often heard customers say: “I’d like the folks who built it to be the ones who support it.”  That sounds plausible in theory, but that usually involves taking a “grinder” and making him/her a “minder”.  Which rarely works unless that person is explicitly looking to change his/her lifestyle.

I am powerless over my Blackberry…

But I’m glad to say that my life isn’t unmanageable.  Or at least I can’t blame its unmanageability on my BB, so I identified with Karen Dillon’s post (here) and especially this passage:

Even now, sometimes when I can’t sleep, I get up and check e-mail at odd hours of the night. It’s not because of stress, it’s because it helps my mind focus on something other than what woke me up.

My Blackberry is fundamental to the flexible work arrangements that blur my personal and professional lives (see this Stew Friedman post here and my post here).  I also hate having a full inbox, so I like the ability to prune when possible (and react if necessary).  Perhap I occasionally sneak a too-frequent peek at the BB when on mostly personal time; however, luckily my wife is assertive enough to point it out (and tactful enough to not rub it in).

However, when all else fails, I’ve not forgotten where the off button is!

Work-Life Balance isn’t a zero-sum game

Yesterday, I linked to the Stew Friedman “Don’t Leave Your Personal Life at Home” piece (article here, blog here).  I love his big idea: that work, home, community, and self don’t need to always be in conflict.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, work and the rest of your life don’t have to compete in a zero-sum game.  The secret?  Experiment with small changes that simultaneously improve your satisfaction and performance in all four areas of your life—work, home, community, and self.

I forgot to link to his little video (about seven minutes here) and toolset (below).

  • Articulating What Matters Most — A simple four-way chart (here) to highlight which aspects of “life” are important in one’s life, the kind of focus one has on them, and the level of satisfaction for each. 
  • Planning Small Change Experiments — Again, a simple worksheet (here) to outline two-three small experiments, the sole criterion being that one should only select experiments that impact all four aspects of life.

Now, time to take my son out to run some “errands”!

Do we need to work factory hours?

I don’t think so.  Perhaps this attitude stems from the fact that both my mom and my in-laws are from farm families — the idea of 8 to 5 doesn’t apply to my County Kerry or Haskell County kin.  A couple of provocative articles on the Harvard Business site explore the blurring between work and life (Do We Need Weekends? is here, Don’t Leave Your Personal Life at Home is here).

Connectivity is a bug-bear for many.  In particular, a lot of colleagues ask me about whether I like my Blackberry (I do).  The most common objection I then hear is that I’ve tethered myself to the office.  To which I say: “Do you prefer being chained to your desk”?  The ability to time shift is precious to me, well worth the cost of having to shift calls or business into “non-working” hours.

Also, I do not subscribe to the idea that the potential to be “always on” equals being “always on.”  There are of course the “ringer off” and caller ID features.  And every e-mail does not need an immediate response.  A lot of the complaints about the Crackberry would be solved by a quick Franklin-Covey time management course.  Or, heaven forbid, we might realize that every mail we’re copied on doesn’t need our contribution to the thread.

Finally, while I’m not customer-facing today, that was when I especially loved having a tether rather than a chain.  I recall one upgrade weekend where I had to be on-site, but I was able to have my wife join me for the weekend.  In the “good old days” pre-mobile or Blackberry, I would have had to stay on site on in my hotel almost the entire time.  No dinner and a movie, no personal time, etc.

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