Do One Thing At a Time - Unless You’re a Leader

Always do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is unproductive and a myth.

Always know what problem you need to solve and once solved, what measure of success you evaluate your solution by. Then validate your work. Learn from the results, and repeat.

If you are a leader, you have two things to do at the same time. Unfortunate but necessary.

Work on the one problem, your biggest problem, that only you can solve. Know how you will measure your success. Spend time validating the outcome. Know what your key performance indicators are and the problem you are working on should move one of them. If not, you are probably working on the wrong problem. Once you have solved the problem review and learn from what you have done, validate the work against your key performance indicators, and then move to your next problem.

Unfortunately leaders don’t have the ability to solely do this their entire day. They have to first spend time helping others understand what problems they need to solve, how they will measure their success, and once solved work with them to understand the validation results and the lessons learned to be applied to their next problem. They do that first. This is the first priority of their day. They delegate with authority the problems that others will solve with full accountability for the measures of success that they have to deliver. This is what leaders do.

Your worth as a leader is a multiplier of the number of problems to be solved that you can effectively delegate. Probably not a linear line, more than likely exponential.

The rest of your day you work on the one problem that only you can solve.

Pivot

Pivot isn’t just a cool sexy term reserved for startups to describe how their colossal screw up had to be abandoned and restarted. Every situation that isn’t working is an opportunity to take the lessons learned and do something else. I wouldn’t describe it as a cool move that should be repeated as it seems to be celebrated these days, rather a big “O Crap” moment that absolutely sucks and you definitely want to minimize how often it happens.

You can pivot on your job, your team can pivot, your department can pivot, the organizations you volunteer with can pivot, you can even pivot on how you live your life. Pivot when you need to, just make sure you don’t do it so often that you end up going round in circles.

Don't See What Sticks

Begin with the end in mind. Know exactly what needs to be done, and in what order, to get there. Start at the beginning, make small steps that can be measured as you go. Evaluate your measurements and be prepared to adjust, abandon, or pivot from the goal at any time.

Conversely, throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks greatly increases the odds of failure or at the very best, significantly increases the costs of success. Shit that sticks to the wall typically ends up making everything stink like shit.

Do you know what you are doing?

Do you know why you are in business?

 Do you know what your business does?

Do you know who you do business with?

What’s the job that you think you do and that you think others hire you to do?

Who do you think really values what you do? Who are the people that are willing to pay you to do your job?

Where are they? How do you find them? How do you get more of them?

What gets in the way of hiring you to do your job? How do you make it easier to hire you?

How are you going to destroy your job before someone else destroys it for you?  

Out of that destruction what job will you be doing next?

Documentation - Not What You Think It Is

Writing documentation is about problem solving. Not the act of technically describing something. 

Who am I writing for?

What job do they need done?

What problems prevent them from getting that job done easily?

Why do I need to document how the job to be done, is “done”? Why is it so complicated that someone has to be told how to do it?

Or worst; why can’t they find the documentation?

Slightly worse; why don’t they understand the documentation?

And then how do I measure the success of my problem solving? Are the actions that I am taking effective? How do I solve this problem better?

What have I learned that I need to share? How do I share the knowledge that I have learned?

Who else do I need to motivate to help me solve the problems that I have found? How do I multiply my efforts to solve the problems that I have discovered?

Don't write for the sake of writing. Solve problems. Sometimes by writing documentation.