Mind the gap

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 18th September 2017

I let the cat out of the bag a few weeks ago about my upcoming book Smart Teams. I am well and truly in the middle of a world of pain, with editorial deadlines, design meetings and writing. Lots and lots of writing. So, to give myself a bit of a break I thought I would do some more… writing, and here we are dear readers!

One of the central concepts in Smart Teams is the productivity friction we cause each other. This friction is generated in the ‘gap’. The gap between two workers, or two groups of workers. When I work with you, there is a risk that I will drag your productivity down, or you will drag my productivity down. We do not mean to do this to each other. It is just what happens when we go at a million miles an hour and work in a complex organisation.

We see this friction created when we collaborate, congregate or communicate with others. Whenever we come together and interact, productivity is at risk. So how can we turn this friction into flow?

I believe the starting point is to operate with a high level of awareness, and a high level of care. We first need to be aware of our own behaviours and the impact they have on our colleague’s productivity. Now, this will help our colleagues, but not necessarily translate to a boost in our own productivity. So, we should coach them to be more aware too.

Then, we need to care. We need to take the time and effort to work with our colleagues in a more productive way. If we cannot be bothered to care about their productivity, then how can we expect them to care about ours?

Think about the situations that derailed your productivity this week. Could those situations have been less disruptive if other people were more aware and more careful? You may not be able to control that, but you can control your levels of awareness and carefulness. Mind the gap, and maybe someone else will mind it for you in return.

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