Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Food for Thought

The article below is by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. You may remember that one of our groups did a book study on his book a couple of years ago.

There is one organization that never has fires and crises—the fire department. Think about it.
They are constantly being interrupted from getting their work done. They have to clean, polish, maintain, train, fill out forms, hire, communicate, order toilet paper, cook lunch, feed the dog, give speeches, and maintain a happy face. Suddenly a bell rings and everything gets overturned. And the vast majority of these interruptions are false alarms!
They accept and organize for this. I was in Los Angeles many years ago when a large part of the city was on fire. On the news I didn't see one fire company just throwing the hoses willy-nilly back on the truck to get to the next one. It's just a neat, methodical procedure, implemented with consistency and integrity, taking into account the realities of the situation and the resources at hand.

Is there a lesson here? How long are people going to complain about continual surprises and interruptions, especially the ones that are inherently natural to the business and value we are trying to add? And, if there were never any surprises, most of us would be bored stupid in a few days; and the competition would have probably eaten our lunch already with purely bureaucratic efficiency.
Your ability to deal with surprise, elegantly and proactively, is your personal and organizational competitive edge. You just need to ensure that your systems can keep things under control from any angle, with appropriate distinctions between what's movable and what's not. Then turning on a dime is an effortless spin instead of a clumsy crash and burn.

The school librarian's day is full of surprises and interruptions. Are you organized in a way that allows you to deal with them "elegantly and productively"?

Photo citation: Fire.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome lesson! One of the saying I like is "Life is what happens to you while you're making plans." We've got to get used to the changes and interruptions. They are the only things we know are going to happen without fail!