Check These Headlines: Ignoring Failing Projects, Unsafe Cloud Computing and Mindfulness

Twitter, Twitter chat, KaizenBiz Every few months we change things up a bit on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz and go for a more lightning round style with our topics. Have you come across any interesting posts or new stories that make you stop and think? This week we are going to borrow from those talk shows that move from topic to topic and see what big ideas are popping up. So, check out these stories and bring your own this Friday to the live Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am

Dangers of ignoring failing projects

If you haven’t experienced them, you’ve witnessed them. It’s the project that has so many missed deadlines, glitches and conversations about what to do that you might wonder why people keep trying to make it work. In an interesting post on the HBR Blog Network, Gretchen Gavett talks about what can make projects work better. These are her suggestions:

  • Check and revise your business case regularly
  • Pay attention to what really happens in meetings
  • Cast a wide knowledge net
  • Monitor what’s not being spent
  • Have an entrepreneurial project manager

The underlying connection with all of her recommendations is the human element. It seems that many of the usual things that derail a project – missed deadlines, scope creep, lack of resources and the like – are often more due to human judgement and relationships.

Discussion questions:

  • What do you believe really derails projects?
  • What contributes to the blindness/deafness experienced by team members of failing projects?
  • How could an entrepreneurial-style project manager be more effective than any other project manager?

Think twice about cloud computing?

So much is run on the cloud now that due diligence makes a lot of sense. Although it was quite clumsy for Ben Fried, CIO for Google to say publicly that there may be an inherent security risk to putting an organization’s information on someone’s data center, it does bring up some interesting questions. As was noted in the OPEN Forum post by Kelly Spors, much of what Google provides is, in fact, on cloud-based technologies.

Discussion questions:

Spors asks a great question so we’ll borrow it “If the cloud isn’t secure enough for Google, should any business trust the cloud to store important documents and data?

What kinds of things should a business look for in data security measures?

What other options do businesses have for data storage?

 Mindfulness is gateway to emotional agility

One of the big trends right now is mindfulness. Every Monday, Scott Eblin has a post every week from his series “Mindful Mondays” and  many leadership development programs are including mindfulness is their training. MIndfulness is essentially keeping your focus on the here and now while acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without judgement.

One of the areas that stymies novice practitioners of mindfulness is that negative or unpleasant thoughts and emotions continue to occur. In the Fast Company post “4 Important Things About Mindfulness You Didn’t Realize“, Drake Baer identifies how we can experience our own negativity and still remain mindful:by using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:

  1. You recognize your patterns
  2. Label the thought or emotion
  3. Accept the things that are happening in your mind
  4. Act on your values

Discussion questions:

Are we spending too much time trying to fix ourselves instead of recognizing that thoughts and emotions happen anyway? Why/why not?

How could our negative thoughts and emotions be addictive?

What affect could using mindfulness have on our performance, particularly in times of stress?

Time for your suggestions

The above topics are my suggestions for our lighting roundtable discussion on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. If something caught your attention this week, bring it the discussion on Friday, October 28th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. Remember to include the link and even  one or two discussion questions.


Creating Workable Strategies To Encourage Genuine Productivity

Productivity strategies, Self-awarenessAre you in an organization that is “doing more with less?” Individual productivity becomes more important in that environment. But rather than just saying, “do more”, it is important to understand what contributes to productivity in the first place. Productivity is closely aligned with habit formation, goal achievement and will  power. When we understand these, we can find ways to encourage genuine productivity.

*Please join us Friday, October 5th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Creating Workable Solutions To Encourage Genuine Productivity”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Some days it feels like an exercise in futility

Ever had one of the those days where you look back and you feel as if you got nothing done. What did I do for 10 hours today? Dr. Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, studies how work gets done. In her research on information workers, she has discovered that people work in uninterrupted time for minutes in each day. Yes, minutes a day, not hours. While there are external interruptions like phone calls or people physically talking to us, a significant portion of what interferes with productivity is self-interruption. She also discovered that self-interruption becomes a habit.


Quite a lot of our behavior is a habit. We tend to follow the same routine everyday so it would make sense that we’re accustomed to checking our email, favorite social media sites or even suddenly remembering we forgot to do a task. We’ve built up neural pathways for these behaviors and they become automatic. (Even as I was writing this post, I found myself wanting to check my email or read another intriguing psychological study.) Essentially, we’re creating the interruption that lowers our productivity which causes us stress.

Goal achievement

But productivity is more than our attention span or our habits. The way we set goals and achieve them has an impact on our productivity. One of the more surprising findings to come out of research on goal achievement is that fantasizing how awesome it will be when you finish a task actually diminishes the likelihood that you will finish said task.

Will power

So, you might start thinking you can muscle through tasks so you hit your productivity goals. However, maintaining productivity depends on our ability to persist and control our tendencies to follow our habits rather than our conscious decisions. In other words, will power. Recent studies on will power has discovered that it is more akin to a muscle than a cognitive event.As we engage in email, online destinations, external interruptions, stress and other emotions, interpersonal interactions, hunger, fatigue and a host of other things, we constantly exercise our will power. Trying to get refocused on a task after interruptions is compromised and it takes will power to get ourselves back on track. This will power gets depleted over time and distraction and procrastination can set in.

 But there are deadlines to meet and quotas to fill

It might be as simple as changing how we work. That’s not to say it would be easy but it could be simple. With so much advice out there, the simple solution is to find your way to work. One of my colleagues, Elaine Rogers, makes a good point in her post about time management by saying that it is more important to be effective rather than efficient. And then there is Leo Batauta’s recommendation that we “Toss Productivity Out“. We know interruptions are going to happen. Traditional tips for staying productive are either being ignored or do not work for most people. We’re not paying enough attention to habit, goal achievement and will power to support effective productivity.

It might be as simple as mindfulness. When doing a task, be present with that task. When you are not able to be present, discover why your attention has wandered. It might be time to stop working. When we increase our awareness of how we, individually, operate, it is much easier to find the strategy that works for us.

What do we not understand about productivity?

What would happen if we allowed ourselves unproductive time?

How would you use mindfulness to support productivity?

What practical strategies have you observed working to encourage productivity?

How could workplaces be designed to maximize productivity?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth and small business coach/trainer, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding in your own backyard or into another country, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.