Reflection, Who’s Got Time for @$%&^ Reflection?
By Al McClain
If you meet with retailing industry execs, or if you are one, you’ve no doubt noticed the “Blackberryization” of the industry. It seems that everyone has one and that many execs are addicted to them. Telltale signs include lack of an observable attention span, the “head down” posture, and sore thumbs.
And, it’s been true seemingly forever that execs are overscheduled; with back to back-to-back meetings a common occurrence. Awhile back, I met with an exec who apologized for eating a sandwich during our non-lunch meeting. When I mentioned that it was too bad his schedule didn’t permit even a short break for lunch, he noted, “Don’t worry, I’m so busy I do this every day.”
Here’s a possible rationale behind all this multi-tasking and over scheduling:
Information and communications technology unlocks the value of time, allowing and enabling multi-tasking, multi-channels, multi-this and multi-that.
Li Ka Shing – via woopidoo.com
Yet, we have to wonder whether this frenzy of activity really accomplishes what it ought to. An article by John Baldoni in Darwin magazine this week says we need to take a little more time to reflect. Baldoni says Jim Collins plans his schedule so there is time to think and reflect, while John Maxwell advises creating a space with a chair, room, garden, or whatever, where you can go to think.
Baldoni suggests that reflection need not be a solitary activity, and that execs can reflect, for example, when attending conferences, by asking other attendees about presentations they’ve seen and discussing challenges they and their teams face. This seems extremely basic, but I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve been to over the years where delegates incessantly complained about the poor quality of the speakers and lack of anything new to learn, rather than engaging others, thinking about why they came to the conference in the first place, and looking for new things to learn.
So, when you think about time management and reflection, it might be worthwhile to consider not only short-term goals of meetings attended, phone calls made, e-mails returned, deadlines met, and bosses assuaged, but to pause and consider progress made over a longer time period. Perhaps this is done by scheduling time to review your calendar for the previous month or quarter to see what was accomplished and what remains to be done. And perhaps, just as importantly, take the time to consider what was done that didn’t need to be, and what larger issues remain to be tackled.
Moderator’s Comment: With the whirlwind of activity that surrounds our business lives, sometimes quiet time to reflect seems like an unfulfilled dream.
Do you have a strategy for ensuring that thinking and reflecting are part of your business life? Do you think the retailing industry suffers from an inability to sit back, stop,
and think? – Al McClain – Moderator