Email-free Day and Overtime Solves Nothing

Today I learned:

1. Email-free Day: Email has been getting out of hand for me lately. From wasted time on CYA activities (noted in an earlier blog) to the mass of incoming and outgoing messages I deal with everyday it is all a bit overwhelming.  I checked my sent items this morning and quickly determined that in the past two weeks I have sent 422 messages.

I decided today would be different.

My goal? Zero sent messages.

9 hours later…mission accomplished!

I will admit three times I caught myself pecking out a reply to someone but each time I quickly caught myself and either made a return call or just walked over to their desk instead.

As a result, I learned a simple lesson. You talk to a hell of a lot more people in a day when you commit to sending less email. Presumably this is a good thing. This trial showed me email-free days could be worthy of a bit more experimentation.  Finding a way to stop reading them for a day might be next.

2. Overtime solves nothing: When I chair a meeting it starts on time. People know this, so they quickly adjust and show up on time.  Very rarely do I allow my meetings to go over the scheduled time slot too, and certainly not without checking on the participants to see if it is both ok and agreed it will be worth it.

After participating in two meetings today that both started and ended late it occurred to me extra time at the end rarely solves anything. Whether you start on time or not, if you haven’t solved the problem by the scheduled end, rarely is another 15 minutes going to solve anything. Often it is better to move on and then, only if necessary, revisit later when everyone can come in fresh.

Lying to your kids and a Kodak Moment

Today I learned:

1. Don’t lie to your kids: If you accidently break one of your daughter’s toys you need to own up to it. The other natural alternative – telling her it was destroyed by the wolves in the backyard who ate it when it was left out last night – is just a story full of holes that will be picked apart by your highly analytical child at roughly 3:17 am.

2. A Kodak Moment: On the drive to work I listened to an article from the Economist contrasting Kodak’s failed attempt to transition its brand from a dying industry, with that of rival firm Fuji-film which has successfully altered its course, surprisingly, towards a position within the cosmetic industry (among other ventures).

At lunch I found another Kodak article, this time by Seth Godin, that addresses the difficulty successful incumbents have in identifying a new course – my favourite quote being Kodak was “so in love with their success that they insisted the world change in their favor, as opposed to embracing the future that was sure to arrive.”

The lifecycle concept applies to every company in every business and (simplistically speaking at least) only the speed of transition for the industry really differs. Despite that, it is amazing to see how many companies live in the present rather than planning for tomorrow.  Personally, it certainly made me think about what percentage of my day I spend in the present and what percent I spend planning for the future. I decided to setup a simple reminder – a bit of “Kodak Time” is now scheduled into my monthly calendar.

As a aside, a special message to the strategists at Kodak:

Dear Kodak,

Digital printing will not save you guys, either.  It might not even be viable by the time you get good at it.