Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Interesting Links (June 2008)

Want to Boost Productivity? Give Workers Bigger Screens

From Harvard Business - Discussion Leaders

The easiest way to increase the productivity of people working on computers is to increase the size of their monitors. I recently suggested that a firm add an additional screen for all its customer service workers and you can see below that in a month’s time, the time per call decreased from about three minutes and fifty seconds down to three minutes and twenty seconds – a 12% improvement -- with no additional training or change in the work load or work design.

...... Most people don’t know that you can add an additional screen to any laptop and, by changing the desktop settings, which takes less than a minute, create a continuous work space from one screen to the next. The mouse moves across; you can drag applications to the other screen seamlessly. (Windows can drive up to 10 screens.)

Why bother? Well, two screens lets you open two full-sized windows or applications at once, so if you are looking at your email, you can also see your calendar, or open a document. With the trivial cost of 15-to-19-inch screens, many now under $100, every knowledge worker should have at least two screens. They will pay for themselves almost immediately.

I've always resisted having a small flat screen - preferring my trusty old but large CRT. Only recently someone showed me how to use it in combination with my Laptop screen when docked. And I'd agree with this article .... spread the word !


Top Ten Reasons for Top Ten Lists

Here is that Top 10 list from Tom Davenport of Harvard ! enjoy


Team-Building with Wikis

Here is an interesting post from the Socialtext blog.

Advice includes:

Next time you have a new team member, and thus, a new team, consider these simple practices for team building:

  • Project shared notes in a wiki page while meeting
  • Start an initiative to document best practices, kicking off with a conversation about basic language and how to structure information architecture. Revisit as a group on a regular basis until it takes off on its own.
  • Augment your next leadership offsite with an Wiki Eventspace to: (i) flush out the agenda beforehand, (ii) have participants create profiles including answering topical questions, (iii)
    organize communication, (iv) shared notes and in-session conversation, & (v) structure new initiatives on the fly
  • Look for major exceptions to business process to rapidly form an expert group focused not just on resolution in rapid time, but documenting learnings in the process
  • Look for common editing exercises, from mission statements to press releases
  • Encourage rich profiles, blog posts and wiki expression not just about work, but the things that help others understand the identities behind their words and work. Even if its blogging about cats. If you clamp down on tone, it wont be fun (especially compared to paintball). This is not a directed side activity, and these conversations occur in the lunchroom and by the watercooler anyway, just with less distribution and persistence.


What Will You Regret ?

Marshall Goldsmith reflects here on a great question to ask of leaders:

In your experience, what are the biggest regrets people have at the end of their careers? What do people wish they had learned sooner?

As Marshall states:
"This is a great question. A wise person learns from experience. A wiser person learns from someone else’s experience. The best way to answer this question is to ask the people who actually have the experience."

A key insight is that although most of us go through our careers fearing failure- "people don’t regret their failures and that most people wished they had risked more. Trying and failing is something we can deal with. The happiest people felt they had pursued their dreams and stretched themselves in their lives and careers. So we are more likely to regret having not tried for a dream than to have failed at it. This is particularly interesting because most of us think failure is about the worst thing that can happen to us but it turns out that not trying or playing it safe in our careers is what we should actually be worrying about."


Motivation Disconnect: How Organizations Fail to Motivate Managers

John Baldoni at Harvard reflects here on a recent study from Ashridge

"If you want to drive motivation, you know your people. Some may be motivated by an equity stake, but so often others want to do good and interesting work, and be recognized for it. The lesson of the Ashridge study, like so many others before it, is that people wanted to be treated as individuals. And that is motivational in itself."