Don Khouri Blog

Doing More With Scarce Resources

Posted by Don Khouri on Wed, Jun 17, 2009

Today, many leaders are being asked to do more with scarce resources.  I find this trend particularly interesting in that it is my understanding that leaders are not being asked to simply keep pace, but rather to take on more responsibility and get more done with fewer resources.  In other words, this is not a temporary situation whereby leaders are asked to tread water until more boats are fueled and ready to go.  It is a permanent shift toward greater productivity through effective management and leadership.  Leaders that are successful in achieving this will grow increasingly more valuable to their companies. In this article, I would like to provide a few simple tips on getting more done.  It is about creating the right focus, following through on your commitments, and having easy access to information.  

Focus.   Without looking at your watch, can you identify what is in the ‘12′ position?  Is it a 12, or a dash, or a logo, or something else?  No peeking!  See if you can do it without looking ...  Now you can look.  Okay, how did you do?   If you got it right, congratulations.  Now, without looking again, what time is it?  Did you get that right?  The point of all of this is that we get done what we focus on.  We are most productive when we are focused.  What are you focused on?  Are you staring right at it, and still not getting it done?  Here's my suggestion:  decide what is most important for you to be focused on right now, write it down, and review it every day.  Don't let the latest and the loudest drive your day.  Watch how your progress increases, and then let me know about it.

Commitments.  Think about a commitment you have made but have not completed yet.  Do you have something in mind?  How does it feel?  How clear are you about what you need to do to move forward on this commitment?   When we do not meet our commitments, either a commitment we have made to someone else or a commitment we have made to ourselves, we add unneeded stress to our lives.  We do not feel good about ourselves when we fail to meet our commitments.  It is actually meeting those commitments that gives us the energy and enthusiasm to do more.  Think about the last time you completed a really big project.  You were probably ready to take on more, and that's because you freed up all that mental energy and the act of completing something gave you energy.  You have three options when dealing with unmet commitments: (1) keep them, (2) don't make them, or (3) renegotiate them.  A good friend and colleague had to reschedule an appointment with me this week for very good reasons.  Now, she is going to feel a whole lot better by rescheduling ahead of time versus just not showing up.   Let's face it, the world changes all the time and sometimes it makes sense to rethink or renegotiate our commitments. 

Information.  How easily can you obtain information when you need it?  Are your reference systems in good order?  The best practice here is to keep your filing simple.  If it takes you more than 60 seconds to file something, you probably will not do it.  Make it easy and fun, keep things at your fingertips, and purge annually.  People spend much more time than they should looking for something, and this negatively effects productivity.  This goes for your paper and electronic reference systems as well. 

How about when you need information from someone else in your organization?  You need to elicit knowledge from experts easily today, find that knowledge easily when you need it, with the right technology and the right culture.  More on this next time from a knowledge management expert.

Don's Coaching Questions:

  • What are you focused on?  What do you want to be focused on?

  • How are you managing your commitments?  Which commitments do you need to move on now?

  • What can you do today to improve your reference system? 

I am currently offering a complimentary 30-minute 1:1 session in your office to help you deliver more with scarce resources.  If you would like to take advantage of this, please email me at