Pants and Soulcraft

​I was enjoying the audiobook The Year Without Pants so much that I was hoping it would never end. Despite that, when about halfway through Pants, I began trying to decide between two books to listen to next. I was really torn between two.

Seemingly serendipitously, as I finished the last few minutes of Pants, the book I would listen to next was pretty much decided when Pants referred to one of the two books I was thinking about reading next. Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford had been on my reading/listening list for 4 years.

Soulcraft is related to Pants. They are both about the future of work. Pants is about how WordPress succeeds at remote work, and Soulcraft is about how on-site work is important. For a 2013 technology book like Pants to refer to the (ancient by technology book standards) four-year-old and not hugely-popular Soulcraft decided it for me. That tie between Pants and Soulcraft sealed my decision to listen to Soulcraft next.

Recent MS Study

This past month I’ve studied 3 days at Ignite DC downtown, 2 days partner training at the Microsoft offices, and 30 hours at Mack Sigman’s SharePoint Boot Camp. If I can fit in my schedule, I’ll do Mack’s SharePoint Admin course in Dec or Jan. These all involved prep and follow-up study.

These studies are all in Microsoft technologies of Office 365. The Project/Program/Portfolio Management methodologies have been of a particular interest. Why spend so much time studying Microsoft Office 365? Two reasons: we’ve been concentrating our practice on Office 365 because it’s now free for all 501(c)3 non-profits and because Google Apps is not even free for small organizations anymore.

Many thanks to Mack Sigman and other FEDSPUG/WSPDC volunteers Bisi Adebesinx and Nikkia Carter for their many hours of community-building work and teaching.

If you get too much email, maybe you should spend more time WRITING each email

If you concentrate on writing clearly and concisely, when it’s your role to weigh in, to only the people who need that information, you and your co-workers will get less email. When someone multi-tasking fires off an unclear email to 8 people, that will often generate 10 more emails rather than settle a matter as intended.

By trying to multi-task you often make your entire organization less productive. I often think, “That email was great for 2 people on the email list and completely confused the other 12. Now, someone is going to spend a lot more time cleaning that mess up.” All the recent studies have shown that multi-tasking is much less productive than deep concentration.

I can’t tell you how often I hear someone say that they can’t get any work done at the office. They have to get their REAL work done at home or on a plane. That’s a corporate communication culture problem that needs to be addressed. I’ll often say. “I don’t think that’s a meeting issue. We can solve that by  email or phone in less time than it would take for us to prep and gather for a meeting.” Death by PowerPoint.

When someone responds to “How are you?” with “Busy” every time, I see that more as a time and lifestyle management problem than a point of pride. Skipping sleep does not make you more productive. All these little behaviors add up.

What Do We Mean by Strategic Technology Focus?

Plan Strategically...Think About It
Plan Strategically…Think About It

Almost every non-profit I go into has kluged-together technology. As they grew and shrank over the years, they picked up a website run on one platform that doesn’t talk to their data. Their program management doesn’t talk to their accounting. Their accounting doesn’t talk to their CRM or the link is so tenuous it takes hours every month to get anywhere. Their intranet is on a 5th platform. Three servers are new and they don’t even know what’s on the other ones. Many tactical decisions were made that add up to a bad work environment.

That mess is usually quantifiably negatively affecting their productivity. When presented with this situation, shown how that can be improved over a period of time, and in a way that saves money, strategically focused management is willing to go through the changes to make it happen. Getting to that point is a lot cheaper than it used to be. Most of the issue with too many firms is getting over the fear of changing how things are done.