March 29; To Get Better Execution, Do Less Thinking
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Three: Execution; 29 March

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:30

To Get Better Execution, Do Less Thinking

Without Thought

Social scientists studied the behavior of children on two different playgrounds surrounded by streets in an inner-city. One playground had a perimeter fence. The other had no fence, no protective boundary.

In the fenced-in area the children ran, explored and went wild from edge to fenced-edge. Utter chaos. And safe.

But not in the boundary-less playground. In the open field, the children bunched in the center not daring to venture near the sides with vehicular traffic close by. The children were unfettered. And terrified. Their movement was uncontrolled. And not safe.

Science demonstrated that the children were freer with a fence. Fences made for more fun. The children did not have to worry and did not have to think about the danger of running out of the park into on-coming traffic. Oddly, the fence is made for freedom and freedom of thought.

Tim Brown, the CEO and president of IDEO, reports that his firm specializes in creativity. The industrial design firm will often generate new concepts within systems and strict guidelines. We often think that the best creative minds will sit for weeks stroking chins as they Think Out of the Box. IDEO does no such thing.

The creative company’s managers will sometimes give their teams only a few hours—and no more—to generate New Ideas. Tight, restrictive, timelines produce a better product.

Life and work is easier if decisions can be made routine within guidelines. Any task, even the ‘right thing to do’ is easy to implement after the decision is made. As Matthew 11:30 says, For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Standard operating procedures, or SOPs in business and the military, reduce the amount of ‘thinking’ a person has to do. Decision-making is reduced to set, rote habits that don’t consume active or new thought processes. Like an efficient technology, we do not want employees to run out of buffer space. Procedural guardrails can keep routine projects from falling off the edge of a cliff.

Scripture has 10 simple SOP’s. When followed they can lighten the burden and emotional anguish of attempting to figure out and then doing the right things, right. We know them as the Ten Commandments.

Entrepreneur Richard Kock says, “…to ensure that the project team does only the really high-value tasks, Impose an impossible time scale (Kock 1998, 2008) p 123,

Faced with an impossible time scale, [project members] will identify and implement the 20 percent of the requirements that delivers 80 percent of the benefit. Again, it is the inclusion of the “nice to have’ features that turn potentially sound projects into looming catastrophes.

Impose stretch targets. Desperate situations inspire creative solutions. Ask for a prototype in four weeks. Demand a live pilot in three months. This will force the development team to apply the 80/20 rule and really make it work. Take calculated risks.

To get the best execution consider a narrow frame-work and short time-frames. Do you want your staff to explore a playground of solutions? Put up a fence.

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