Management

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

I’m continuing to write about some mindful habits and insights to frame thinking and actions for the New Year.

Today’s post pulls together some thoughts on FOCUS and PRODUCTIVITY.

First, I’m highlighting Tom’s book notes from The Power of Full Engagement (read post). The powerful nugget:

Manage your energy, not your time!

Second, I want to highlight Paul Graham’s essay: Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. Graham is the co-founder of Y-Combinator and Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule has been a guide for me since I first found it several years ago. Graham challenges us to think about two different MODES of working: (Bold emphasis is mine.)

There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour.

When you use time that way, it’s merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you’re done.

Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.

Read the full essay at http://paulgraham.com.

I partition most days into two parts. The first is the MAKER part of my day: writing, creative thinking, strategy. I will work from my home office… or my corner coffee shop… NOT AT THE OFFICE. Early mornings 5-10am are when I’m most creative (with an interlude to get the kids up, dressed, fed and to school). I then arrive to the office around 10 and schedule calls / meetings AFTER 10:30.* This let’s me FOCUS my creativity when my energy is highest around a MAKER schedule.

*Ideally.

If you are a leader you need time to THINK. Manage your energy, not your time. When do you do your best thinking? PROTECT YOUR MAKER TIME. The science is clear and conclusive – we incur a heavy transaction cost associated with the interruptions that stop/start our ‘deep work’.

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The Price of Management Debt

“Every really good, really experienced CEO I know shares one important characteristic: They tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues. If faced with giving everyone the same bonus to make things easy or with sharply rewarding performance and ruffling many feathers, they’ll ruffle the feathers. If given the choice of cutting a popular project today, because it’s not in the long-term plans or you’re keeping it around for morale purposes and to appear consistent, they’ll cut it today. Why? Because they’ve paid the price of management debt, and they would rather not do that again.” – From the Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

I’ve never heard anyone talk about ‘management debt’.  What a powerful concept! It smacked me between the eyes! This is a powerful frame for leaders because it puts the notion of DEBT on indecision. Decision/indecision doesn’t just have a ‘cost’; it has a ‘debt’! It allows us to ask, “What debt will I incur in NOT dealing with this tough issue?”

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Commitment to Contribution

I was re-reading some passages from Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive. He has a chapter on CONTRIBUTION – I hope some of these nuggets speak to you like they continue to speak to me:

  • “The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” His stress is on responsibility.”

    (Note: Peter Drucker lived from 1909-2005.  His writing and thoughts on management were visionary and clear and his observations from the 1970’s still represent some of the best thinking on ‘management’ I can find. I’ve left quotations as they were originally printed but wanted to recognize that his writing is very ‘male dominant’.)
  • “Commitment to contribution is commitment to responsible effectiveness. Without it, a man shortchanges himself, deprives his organization, and cheats the people he works with.”
  • “The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, “top management.” He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole.”
  • “To ask, “What can I contribute?” is to look for the unused potential in the job. And what is considered excellent performance in a good many positions is often but a pale shadow of the job’s full potential of contribution.”
  • And another great guiding question, “What can I and no one else do which, if done really well, would make a real difference to this company?”

 

 

 

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