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Weekly 3: Managers vs. Makers, Learning Matrix & Effective Meetings

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Summary: Manager's schedules vs. Maker's schedules. Prioritize your learning. Have more effective mee
 

Idea Journal Weekly 3

November 26 · Issue #10 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Manager’s schedules vs. Maker’s schedules. Prioritize your learning. Have more effective meetings. (~5 min read)

#1. Managers and makers have distinct schedules -- knowing the difference can help you make the most of your time.
Entrepreneur and author Paul Graham writes that there are two types of schedule:
  1. Manager’s schedules, used by people in positions of authority, are generally broken up into one-hour intervals.
  2. Maker’s schedules, used by people like computer programmers and writers, who tend to view their time in units of at least half a day.
In an organizational setting, problems can arise when these two types of schedules collide, usually in the form of meetings.
For managers, scheduling a one-hour meeting is merely a practical problem: the challenge is simply finding an open slot in the calendar.
But for makers, an hour is barely enough time to get started, and a single meeting can “blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.”
Graham proposes two solutions to help resolve this conflict:
  1. Schedule office hours, with the participants and time slots agreed on beforehand.
  2. Makers should try to do their work when they are least likely to be interrupted (e.g., very early in the morning or late at night). 
#2. Use a 2x2 matrix to help you prioritize which skills to learn.
Marc Zao-Sanders, CEO of education technology company filtered.com, has created the below matrix to help you decide which skills to learn, given the abundance of options and limited time.
The matrix has two dimensions, the time required to learn a skill and the skill’s usefulness, and Zao-Sanders shows in a Harvard Business Review article how it can be applied to learning the features of one of the most popular tools in business: Microsoft Excel.
#3. To make your meetings more effective, use the "IDD" framework.
Meetings are essential to effective decision making and execution in companies.
As Bain & Company management consultants Michael Mankins and Jenny Davis-Peccoud point out in a Bain Brief article, the companies that are best at making decisions “have learned to manage their meetings as carefully as they manage any other part of their business.” 
To help ensure that meetings have a clear purpose and achieve their objectives, Mankins and Davis-Peccoud recommend using a framework called “IDD,” for Inform, Discuss, and Decide.
According to their research, staff at the University of California, Berkeley are expected to begin each meeting with the following statement: “The purpose of this meeting is to inform you about X, to discuss Y and to decide on Z.”
Organizing meetings this way has the following two benefits:
  1. It forces you to come up with a specific, well-defined decision that needs to be reached during the meeting.
  2. Whenever possible, it encourages you to assign any “inform” materials as pre-reading so that you can make the most of the time you are together.
You can also use each of the three functions of the IDD framework to determine the focus of an entire meeting.
Switching around the order, here’s an example of how the framework might be used by a team to launch a new initiative within a broader organization:
  • An initial brainstorming session to discuss ideas for the new initiative.
  • A follow-up meeting to decide which of those ideas is the best option and agree on the plan for implementing it. 
  • Finally, a meeting to inform others in the organization about the new initiative’s launch and what to expect.
Quote of the Week
“Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death.”
- Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey in her book A Woman of Independent Means 
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