Recipes do not work

Forget about most quick fixes

Working better, enjoying the workplace more, being more efficient… none of this has to do with recipes. However we tend to expect quick fixes, and this is legitimate. Still…

Take managing time. The usual situation is that we may feel that our time is not used as effectively as it could. So we want to organize our time so that we get as many things done as well and as quickly as possible.

It sounds a little like we would like to structure time the way we try to pair socks when getting them out of the washing machine. But tasks and time units are not socks. Resorting to this approach is unhelpful symptomatic behavior. The reality of time as it flows is much more complex.

If we look at the cause and the need behind the “time management” symptoms, me have something like: “I waste time, so I want to get rid of what wastes my time. Also, I want more of what saves me time.”

This is not about technical savviness

There are many tools and procedures on the market that are supposed to make us more efficient. Some succeed, some don’t and some—the most pernicious—give us the illusion of increased efficiency.  Except they do just the opposite: they entertain us in the self-deceptive idea that pushing more information at us and more often makes us more effective. Common sense and science prove just the opposite.

Still, there are tools that we can and should use. For example, if you need to learn how to get more out of one given software or procedure, go ahead, learn. Ongoing learning is an essential investment for knowledge workers. Learning time is precious time.

Beware of recipes

So, aside from technical and procedural recipes, we need to be wary of recipes.

It is essential to understand what brings efficacy to your work and how this contributes to the effectiveness of your organization. 

To a person who is in dire need of “more time,” this seems frustrating and preposterous, but here is what has to happen: you need to maintain peripheral and forward vision. Not much of a recipe, huh? Still, this is where the solution lies.

Recipes do not work. A recipe is not a pill. A recipe cannot cannot fix how you manage your efficiency. If it did, the book would have been out for a while already and you would not need this manual. What needs to be written is a non-recipe book, and that one would never make it to the bookstore.

If a recipe works, it will not work for you. Most people tend to discount friendly advice on the basis that it would not work for them.

Recipes can only work once you have understood the context in which you work and why you are doing the thing you do. 

Recipes can only work once they have been internalized. They need to be re-fabricated and tailor made by you. No-one else can do it. They can give you the info, but you need to do the last mile. That is challenging, as you cannot just apply the recipe right off. As already mentioned, it would not work.

To find solutions to such momentous challenges takes an open mind, so for the few hours that you are going to spend on this course, please put aside the need to jump to solutions. Accept to diverge and explore.

Like many things that work when everything has been tried, you will find that the fundamentals of behavior based efficiency are counter-intuitive, and that too could prove challenging. Besides, a lot of what follows could have been said by most of our grandmothers.

Au sujet de l'auteur

Stephane Baillie Gee

Stephane Baillie-Gee is a senior consultant. He works on advanced management and leadership in the scope of organizations of the future. He also helps bridging the communication gap between Western and Chinese cultures and organizations.

Leave a Reply