Work to be one in a hundred

You don’t need to be one in a million to succeed, but you should aim for one in a hundred.

One hundred is an interesting number. In ancient Rome, a Centurion commanded one hundred men (usually between 60 and 150). Even today, an army company will comprise about 100-150 soldiers. Reaching 100 employees is a landmark, and a step-change, for a growing business.

The anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed, in 1992, that the human brain can maintain a maximum of around 150 social relationships (Dunbar’s Number).  In more recent research, he has found that the average number of Facebook Friends is 155. You can have more links, of course. Clicking is easy, but maintaining real social relationships is hard.

Take that across to a typical professional scenario. Your business relies on the relationship (not transactional) model: clients need to know and trust you. When your client faces a problem, they can choose from just 100-150 trusted relationships to solve it.

You want to be that one per cent – the one person best suited to save the day.

 

Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

On phones, open plan, distractions and focus

The Economist’s Bartleby column on human behaviour in the face  of relentless “on-ness”:

In the face of 24-hour communication, we rebel in our own quiet way. We put personal communication first, and we reply in our own sweet time.

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Focus! How to get things done – @Chris_Bailey

Anyone who prescribes meditation, coffee and wine deserves attention.

Yesterday’s Times has an interview with Chris Bailey on his new book, Hyperfocus: How to Work Less and Achieve More.

Our inability to focus, because of our digital aids to productivity, is the bane of our times.

In a fascinating article, Bailey prescribes:

  • Set yourself no more than three daily tasks
  • Do a phone swap
  • Set an hourly awareness alarm
  • Switch environments when you need to
  • Ditch brain training apps for meditation
  • Buy a cheap alarm clock
  • Save your first coffee for work
  • Play a song on repeat
  • Take a mindful shower
  • Have a glass of wine

It’s definitely worth a read and some consideration. Over a glass of wine.

The interview is here.

The man, via TED, is here.

The book is here.

More open plan

Just adding to my earlier post on open plan. Here’s Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership, via Execupundit, with a wealth of articles on the subject.

His own summary:

People seem to want a one-size-fits-all answer to the question about what makes the best workspace. I don’t think there is one. I think the answer depends on the people involved, the work to be done, and the size of the team.

Read the full breadth of perspective, here.

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The ins and outs of open plan

The debate over open plan office layouts rages on.

For many organisations, the advantages of real-estate savings, increased collaboration and organisational flexibility seem overwhelmingly to the good.

To this, today’s Times adds research from the University of Arizona that suggests open plan is good for the participants’ health as a result of higher levels of activity and lower levels of stress.

On the other side of the argument, the Economist’s Bartleby column reported some possibly counter-intuitive findings: Open offices can lead to closed minds. A report published by the Royal Society – The impact of the “open” workspace on human collaboration – found that face to face interactions decreased by around 70% once open plan was introduced, as:

“transitions to open office architecture do not necessarily promote open interaction. Consistent with the fundamental human desire for privacy and prior evidence
that privacy may increase productivity, when office architecture makes everyone more observable or ‘transparent’, it can dampen F2F interaction, as employees find other strategies to preserve their privacy; for example, by choosing a different channel through which to communicate. Rather than have an F2F interaction in front of a large audience of peers, an employee might look around, see that a particular person is at his or her desk, and send an email.

 

Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

 

The flexible workforce and the future of work

Short but interesting article on how business is responding to the rise of sovereign professionals by using this new, highly skilled and flexible workforce to power more agile and innovative business models.

This idea has been bubbling around for a few years. Back in 2012, Andrew Burke‘s research showed how freelancers contributed to both agility and innovation within firms (The Role of Freelancers in the 21st Century British Economy). Burke is now Dean of Trinity Business School and Chairman of the Centre for Research on Self-Employment.

Of course, the Irish management writer Charles Handy  foresaw all this in his 1990s books The Empty Raincoat (1995) and The Age of Unreason (2002). The ideas, however, finally seem to be gaining critical mass and traction with larger businesses.

In the last couple of years, Accenture have identified the move as one of the key trends in their annual Technology Vision:

Firms like MeasureMatch (a client of mine) are appearing to answer the need for reliable, responsive marketplaces to match buyers with the sovereign professional suppliers.

It’s an exciting time to be a sovereign professional.

 

 

Being discovered – @thisisseth

A great reminder from Seth Godin. Everyone wants to be “discovered”, everyone wants to be an “overnight success”.

The reality is that you have to pay your dues, you have to work for years to reach the night over which your success happens. Jimmy Page (and, indeed, the recently departed Glen Campbell) were session guitarists before their fame. Hendrix, too, was a backing musician. Einstein was a patent clerk.

As Seth says:

The thing about being discovered is that in addition to being fabulous, it’s incredibly rare. Because few people have the time or energy to go hunting for something that might not be there.

The alternative?

To be sought out.

Instead of hoping that people will find you, the alternative is to become the sort of person these people will go looking for.

Read the rest, here.

 

Photo by Jaro León on Unsplash