Recently, a coaching client asked me for some recommendations for paper-based resources that would help him implement "Getting Things Done."

I coach executives and professionals who use a variety of systems and tools. No matter how elaborate your systems, I find it's always helpful to have at least a few physical tools: solid reminders of ideas and tasks can be extremely helpful. Plus, the physical act of writing can help your memory and creative thinking.

In light of this, I recommended that he consider the following for his personal GTD system, all of which I've found helpful:

  • GTD system folders: I use these as my filing system away from the office
  • Large zip pouch: This helps keep the folders tidy
  • Notetaker Wallet: This lets me quickly and conveniently capture ideas anywhere. It's important to have this capability, whether you use the wallet or something else
  • Paper organizer: A PDF-format organizer that you can edit or print
Disclaimer: I don't benefit from the sales of these products: these links are provided solely as helpful resources for your consideration.

I was scanning the job board of a client that I serve and found this embedded in the description for an employment position:
Image:So much for starting a job productively (or sanely) 

I would expect this in a job listing for a juggler at a circus, not for a desk job. This is a position for a knowledge worker—someone who "thinks" for a living.

Thinking to create value requires concentration. Concentration requires focus. Both require minimizing distraction both from internal sources (e.g. multitasking) and external (interruptions, distractions). That's just how the mind works most effectively.

In my personal knowledge and information management (PKIM) seminars and workshops, I teach that focus is what you shut in and concentration is what you shut out. These are essentials skills and powerful tools for any worker.

So why would you set up a work environment that makes these things more difficult?

I realize that the HR person who wrote (and misspelled) that description was probably only trying to cover themselves, but I see this all too often.  It still makes me wonder: when will leadership and management get the fact that it takes concentration to create value?

I recently found two especially interesting things in my feed reader. One was Volker Weber's post on "How to empty the Trash in IBMverse.com" (especially the comments on it). The other was Nathan Paul's post on IBMers who are concerned about being switched to Verse and losing their current way to work — saying things like "it would be catastrophic."

It's been very interesting, watching the reactions to the "new way to work" unfold.

Read Nathan's post here.

I'm curious: for you, what would truly constitute a "new way to work?" What would be the result of it? What would a product have to do or be to enable a truly new way to work?

IBM Verse: the challenge and opportunity

Thursday, May 21st, 2015
Nathan, my manager of client services has been looking at two questions around IBM Verse:
1. How will IBM Verse make people more productive?
2. Can we help make people more productive with Verse?

For all I can see, both of these questions are still unclear, but Nathan's just posted some great thoughts about them.

20150521 - vProductivity NOP.jpg

This marketing video from March shows a portion of IBM's vision for Verse:

Keep in mind that this is a marketing video, so the real Verse may or may not perform as shown.

So far, it appears to be a web-based front end to IBM Connections, Domino-based mail, and other IBM collaboration tools. It is unclear, at present, how many of these tools will be required to experience the features shown in the video.

It looks like Verse is big on sharing and collaboration, but less so on personal productivity -- that is, actually getting work done. My research and work with thousands of people has shown me that, no matter the collaboration, knowledge work is inherently personal.

In this area, Verse has less to offer.

Verse does add a form of the "Waiting For" from David Allen's Getting Things Done, which is a positive step. I'm looking forward to seeing their next video and, of course, to seeing the real product in action when it ships.

P.S. Here are Hogne Pettersen's thoughts on Verse as "promiseware" competing with Microsoft.

20150520 - How about that Verse.jpg