Business Overwhelms LO13072
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 08:25:14 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO13028 --

In a message dated 3/27/97 12:54:19 PM, Keith Cowan wrote:

>I am constantly amazed at how people do have great difficulty "coping".
>When we <imagine how Jack Welch of GE or Bill Clinton manage to cope, it
>is clear to me that coping <with the challenges of business is the key
>differentiator between those that rise in an <organization and those that
>do not.

>In my first sales management position, I discovered that many of my
>salesmen spent time <doing the wrong things. I worked hard to teach them
>to rank their daily work in both <importance and urgency dimensions, and
>to spend at least 1 hour each day on the <IMPORTANT BUT NOT URGENT.

>Their productivity went up immediately! But most did not retain this
>discipline once my <stimulus was removed. They went back to doing what
>felt good.

Keith, thanks for shifting this thread back to my initial issue of
overwhelm. While the thread has been interesting regarding the use of
email technology, it is only a part of my concern. I received no response
to my observation that the shift in the thread to technology might be an
indicator that technology - the misuse, the lack of use, the overuse - is
a source of the overwhelm people experience today.

In working with clients who have email systems, I find most people are
overwhelmed with the volume of email and they can't even find the time to
read it. If I want to communicate with them to ensure their attention, I
must use media other than email. Other systems I am finding so chaotic
that I don't even know how to enter them to help shift the dynamics.

One thought your point triggered for me is that it is difficult to
distinguish the importance and urgency of most email. Therefore,
difficult to determine what email to spend time with for precisely the
reason Rol mentioned. So the strategy is to either read it all and feel
as though your time has been invaded by some or to throw away email that
looks unimportant and in so doing, perhaps throw away some valuable
pearls. I know this is an issue with the size of this org-learning list
as well.

But this issue of email use or misuse is only a small subset of the larger
issue of the rat race we seem to be in as a society. I have a story that
I think is indicative of the structural nature of this breakdown. I met a
man from Chile who was living in San Francisco for a short time. We had
met once only briefly at a conference. I was coming to San Francisco on
business and had an extra day in the area so I asked to meet with him for
lunch or an hour or so during the day. He responded saying he was not a
busy executive gringo and would prefer to spend the whole day with me. He
was poking fun at the importance many executives make of their time since
life moved much more slowly in the villages of Chile and even in his
previous world in Santiago. He valued taking the time to *be* with
people. We spent a wonderful, indulgent day telling each other
interesting stories of our lives. It was an fascinating experience to
take that kind of time to get to know someone like that in a business
relationship. Shortly after we met that day, he moved back to Santiago.
We got to be good friends, mostly corresponding by email and occasionally
by telephone. But he was starting a consulting business in Chile and soon
became the busy executive that he made fun of. This showed me the
systemic nature of the problem. That was seven years ago and as I
understand it, he is doing well but is too busy to respond to email!

Keith points to the sales reps not sustaining the practice of spending
time each day on important not urgent issues every day. Perhaps we could
look for the systemic reason why this practice was lost and find more
powerful ways to intervene in this dynamic. I am still in my inquiry as
to how to effectively enter a system that is in this chaotic overwhelm.

Any further comments from this list would be most appreciated.


Margaret McIntyre


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