How to stop your culture of busy busy and start delivering

“Everyone around here is just too busy being busy” sighed Merryn.  Her business employed 250 people, it was growing and she was feeling the strain.

“How can you tell?” I asked.

“Because everyone time I ask someone ‘how’s things’, I get the same response…a roll of the eyes and  ‘just busy….flat out… know how it is’.  And things are stalling.  Lots of action, no results.”

“What would you like to be hearing?”

“It would be great” Merryn continued, “if someone would say  ‘I’m focussed, in the flow and we’re all delivering.  Feeling great‘”

“So what are your people working on then?”

Merryn looked puzzled for a second, then replied “Lots of stuff – business-as-usual, we’ve got improvements to the warehouse operation underway, legislative change coming, our IT systems need an upgrade, the usual product development, and on top of that, we’re trying to find ways to innovate so we can play in some new fields”.

“Sounds pretty busy busy” I replied.  “So if I’m sitting there with a choice as to what to work on next, which one do you want me to do?”

“What do you mean?” said Merryn.  “Whatever your job is.”

“That will make sure that everyone delivers their local job really well.  But if their job involves working on organisational initiatives with other areas, they are going to be faced with choices on what to do next.”


So if it hasn’t been made clear which initiative the organisation wants to ‘ship’ next, then what am I likely to do?

“What do you mean?”

“As in, to make sure that I don’t get frowned at, and hopefully recognised and maybe rewarded, what am I likely to do if I’m faced with a number of things that all need to be done?”

I remained silent while Merryn pondered.  Then she nodded…”If you have a number of things, you’ll probably do a bit on all of them to make sure there’s progress, so everyone is happy.  Or at least can be fobbed off”.

“Yep.  And if I complete 10% of 10 things, how many things have I completed?

“T…..” Merryn started to say, then corrected herself.  “ZERO” she said, sitting back.

“And how is my brain feeling at any given point?”

Merryn’s wry smile told the story.  “You’re feeling busy busy”.

I slid the pad on the table across to her.

“Grab your pen, and write down the order in which you want your organisational projects to be delivered.  Let’s change busy busy to focus so we can set up your people to win.”


Comments are closed.