I prefer the open office as does Jason Fried ay 37Signals. However, my office is loud and noisy - customers and coworkers can just walk in anytime and distract me from what I am focused on - which is generally Ok, I mean it is a good thing to have customers visiting you these days.
I honestly don't even get one hour of peace and quiet in a normal 8-10 hour day because of all the distractions. In this kind of environment should it really be a surprise when I've screwed something up? I'm surprised it does not happen more often.
Here's what Jason has to say about working at work:
Refocusing after a distraction is tough, I am constantly asking myself, "Now, what was I doing again?" I often get sidetracked and drawn away from what I had planned to do that day. It's seriously a miracle that I even manage to get anything done.
I've learned to adapt over the years, a simple list of To Do's works great. When I get distracted I just go back to the list to see where I left off. When an issue comes up I ask, "Does this need my immediate attention? Or, can I put it on my To Do list and get to it later?"
One thing I haven't thought much about is designing my office space so that it is more conducive to working. Jason has set a superb example for me with the new 37Signals office in Chicago. The office is open, yet the environment is quiet like a library. There are specific rooms where employees can go to talk, the walls are felt, and there are cool sound-proof phone booths so you can actually have a personal call without everyone listening in on what you are saying or trying to talk to you when you are one the phone - last I checked, carrying on two conversations at once is nearly impossible.
Check out the office:
I couldn't agree more with Rainn on stepping outside your comfort zone and looking inward to solve creative blocks.
I think everyone experiences blocks or times when they want to do something meaningful, positive, and fulfilling, but aren't quite sure what exactly to do or where to go.
Just read this Fast Company article
about GE's Durham, North Carolina jet engine factory. I know, I know, what could possibly be interesting about a factory?
Well I'll tell you! What's remarkable about the Durham factory is that it has the highest productivity and quality out of all
of GE's jet engine plants, YET no monetary bonuses were used as incentives and there were NO middle managers - just one general manager for the entire plant.
I wonder why GE hasn't taken this model to their other business units? Maybe because creating a culture like this isn't something that can be replicated without passionate linchpins.
I'm a firm believer that money is not a sustainable motivator. No matter how much a person is paid, eventually motivation will take a dive unless a culture of creativity, caring and passion in one's work is established. Sure, money is a big motivator at first but do you know of anyone who's left a high-paying corporate gig to create a startup?
Wouldn't you like to work in an environment like this? You can without changing jobs, if you want to.
In an effort to improve communication at work I got the idea to create a a "secret group" forum for our organization on Facebook. We have 3 spread out locations now and communication has become rather sucky as we've often failed at logistics between the locations.
The good thing is, everyone is on Facebook, and they all check it regularly on their computers and mobile phones. So we're going to Poke The Box, as Seth puts it, and try this out for a while and see if things improve. I am a little worried employees might waste time messing around on Facebook, but I trust that everyone is responsible enough to handle it - we've got a "No Cogs" culture going on.
I'm certainly excited to see how this will work and what we're going to learn from it.
I just read this article
by David Ronick
), the point that stood out to me most was when he stated “perfect is the enemy of good enough." I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, I like things neat, organized, on time or early. I often go overboard in the beginning diving into what I'm doing so I have enough time to refine the project, report, product, or whatever I'm doing in a stress free manner well in advance of the deadline. In college I preferred to turn my work in early so I could get feedback from my professors (once I was accused of plagiarism because my professor didn't believe a student would actually do something like this).
I finally learned that when I'm almost done...that means it's time to launch. I use to curse myself with constant editing when the product was actually "good enough," I would waste a great deal of time trying to make it perfect.
I no longer do this because Jason Fried
taught me in on page 93 of Rework
that once a product does what it needs to do, then it needs to go to market. I used to hold everything up because of a few leftovers, when I should have been shipping the product out the door, and putting off what I didn't need right at that very moment. Jason makes the point, "Build the necessities now, worry about the luxuries later."
I'm reminded of the founders of Crate and Barrel. They didn't wait to build perfect and fancy displays when they opened their first store. No, what they did was turn over the crates and barrels that the merchandise came in and stacked the products on top of them. I love the no-frills Costco credo! Drop the pallet and cut the wrap - that's it.
While this kind of approach could easily be mistaken for skimping on quality, cutting corners, laziness or procrastination, it's important to understand that the best way to create something great is through iterations.
I'm currently reading the eBook 8-Man Rotation which I have made available to download in this post. Kris Dunn, one of my favorite bloggers, provides a great example in his piece, "Want a Great Manager? 5 Reasons To Stay Away From the Stars and Hire a Scrub," that mediocre players can go on to become great coaches. For example:
• Joe Torre
• Tony Larussa
• Phil Jackson
• Pat Riley
These guys will make it to the Hall of Fame not because of their athletic abilities, but rather because of their superior coaching skills.
As it relates to talent acquisition, Dunn made it clear that the trouble with hiring Stars is that they are frequently thought to have the best skills to become the most effective managers. As a result, Stars often get chosen first when promotion opportunities arise. But then what happens? It rarely works out.
I thought about why this occurs. Why hasn't Wayne Gretzky won any Stanley Cups as a coach? I then learned that one reason is because Stars have special skills - they tend to get frustrated when their pupils can't do what they did with great consistency.
Scrubs on the other hand are more like role players and can often make excellent coaches (and managers). The advantage Scrubs have is that they know the game is hard, so they work harder at it. In addition, if you give them a shot and they'll be loyal forever.
Last week my family and I went to Cafe Rio and actually got some Sprite (we're totally not soda drinkers), my wife decided to share some with Taft since he's never tried a soft drink before. Here's what happened...
So Sprite, I would say that it's nothing personal, but it really is. My boy doesn't like your product, which just so happens to be your best work. This is not personal about you, it's personal about him. The moral of the story here is to do your best work. So what if some kid doesn't like it!
What other choice do you have?
Drug addicts suck! In my experience, here are some clear signs right off the top of my head that a person is up to no good:
· Takes breaks frequently, often away from their workstation
· Complains about the brightness of the lights in office
· Misplaces their debit card in the restroom
· Saves drinking straws, cuts it short with an angle at the end
· Listens to music at high volumes, gets upset when asked to turn it down
· Has a constant case of the munchies
· Introverted, not very social with coworkers
· Often displaying paranoia or deep worry when personal questions are asked
· Sneaky, very cautious behavior around those in authority
· Leaving premises on a lunch break and returning with a drastic change in attitude
· Unusual knowledge and understanding of narcotics and prescription drugs
· Limited eye contact, feeling of guilt
· Bloodshot eyes and new excuses for the reasons why
· Regularly late, with wild and off-the-wall excuses
· Forgetful in performing routine tasks
· Complains about room temperatures, how it’s always hot
· Strong use of perfumes and colognes
Take it from me, do everything you can to keep drug users from being hired or remaining on payroll. Designing a policy to drug screen will reduce on-the-job accidents and worker compensation costs. If you do random drug tests, you’ll greatly reduce these liabilities and increase productivity because drug testing sifts out the careless slackers who are more prone to stealing and causing accidents.
I’ve personally noticed an improvement in morale at work from a commitment to provide a safe and drug-free work environment. It mainly stems from keeping employees out of the cumbersome situation of covering for lit coworkers.
While concrete evidence supporting drug testing's potency in thwarting employees from using drugs is insubstantial, one cannot discount the fact that eliminating a bona fide pot head, or prescription drug addict, has a positive effect on the bottom line.
When I first learned about Game Theory I was rather confused, but the matrix really helped. What also helped was Seinfeld. In this clip George isn't sure if he's been offered a job or not because the guy offering him the job didn't finish extending the offer because he had to take a call, and to top it off he'll be on vacation for another week. George is very uncertain whether an offer was actually made, so he decides that the best strategy is to just "show up" for work. If he actually got the job, then he made the right move. If however, he was not offered the job, then he'll merely be embarrassed. Therefore, in George's position he believes the benefits of "showing up" outweigh the costs.
Dean and Sobel report
that the universal belief that Walmart drives “mom-and-pop” shops out of business is statistically unsupported. Their research suggests, that while Walmart does cause some
directly competing small businesses to fail, those particular failures are completely counterbalanced by the entrance of new small businesses through the process of creative destruction. This article presents a different side of how the entrance of Walmart actually affects a community. Walmart’s entrance into an economy actually spurs innovation by driving out old inefficient businesses, leaving newly vacated commercial real estate available at lower prices. More affordable rents decrease the barriers to entry for new and more innovative businesses and these new companies have to be more specialized because of their proximity to Walmart. Overall, with the entrance of a new Walmart store into a community, entrepreneurialship is stimulated, businesses become more efficient, and consumers save more.