Impermanence, Like Whiteboard Markers

JKLTip Try to check in with your team every twenty-four hours on your plan and remember it can change tomorrow
JKL, Impermanence, Strategy

The teams and organizations that collaborate best will have a huge competitive advantage over the coming years. We don’t really work in hierarchies as much as we work in networks now. When we work in hierarchies we could leave a permanent note that says “do this”. The majority of work tasks will involve automation. Those that don’t will involve networks. They are unpredictable. It is so important that we focus on impermanence. When we are making our best group decisions we are able to remember that life is not permanent. 

Sharpies are permanent markers. Whiteboard markers are erasable and can be changed in a moment. Our thinking should be far more like writing on a whiteboard than writing with a sharpie. The decisions we make and the actions we take are a contextual, circumstantial step in the process. We can change our plans very quickly and we should if we think it’s the best thing to try.

The world of business is in a way saturated. The world of educational content is bursting at the seams. Our access to entertainment and recreation is endless. With so many possibilities and decisions, we can become quite stressed out. There are two specific ways I like to handle this.

What Can We Do?

The first is recognizing that what we do today does not need to be what we do tomorrow. Impermanence is the only permanent thing. Let’s look at a practical example. Say you and your partner have a goal of building a photography business. You need to purchase a new lens. Perhaps the lens is two thousand dollars. Maybe you are currently living paycheque to paycheque but want to push through.

Instead of giving up on the idea you could take more shifts at work until you can afford the lens. All the while using your phone, or whatever you have to maintain building your skills. Once you raise the cash, you can quit those shifts and replace the time spent practicing with the new lens. These extra hours at a job you dislike might not be exciting, but for a time it’s the decision. 

Secondly, a very rapid goal check-in for your team is important. I’ve tried to explain this one a couple of times with little success. But, it is incredibly valuable and quite easy to accomplish. One of the most important strategies we can employ in such a busy environment is speed, testing, feedback, revising, and repeating. It’s like employing the design process in our everyday lives both personally and professionally.

Every day, literally every single day set aside time for team check-in. This is not. I repeat this is not a top-down “do this” type meeting. It also shouldn’t be a sing a song or cheer together meeting. It’s predictable access to each other to connect and collaborate very quickly. It is to ensure we’re all on the same page after the changes that have taken place in the last 23 hours.

This should be very quick. It can last twenty seconds if need be. Some people can leave early, or multi-task, but the point is the opportunity is there. It can be just you as an entrepreneur, or the staff of an entire organization around the world. The purpose is to remove wasted time at meetings with no reason. Things change so rapidly in today’s day and age that everyday there will be something worth connecting on. It also means you don’t have to wait six days for your next meeting. In today’s day and age, a standard meeting should be rare. If we do set one, there better be a very predictable, repeated focus, or else you are having meetings just for the sake of. 

Innovation is linked with speed and iteration. Innovation is also impermanence. We all know the cliches. Sayings such as “this too shall pass”, or “nothing lasts forever” are a reality. When we are able to step back and take a look at the big picture we all appreciate this. No one would disagree.

But, in the short term, it can be difficult to see that things are the only temporary. In acute moments of stress, sadness, or anger it can be really tough to realize everything is short term. Impermanence is the key to success today. That’s why it’s important that we take one day at a time. Edit that whiteboard every twenty-four hours and keep going.

*Come Write A Guest Post: 8 Billion People
** Read Why Just Keep Learning: JKL Post


management, teambuilding

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