Are You Busy?

Are You Busy?
Everyone seems busier these days. Some boast about it and some complain but it's getting harder to find a person who isn't attached to a pager or a cell phone or busy checking their voice mail or e-mail or "away from my desk right now..." in some meeting. One wonders when the frenetic pace will ease or if being busy -- as an individual or a business -- is now the minimum standard for just keeping up if not getting ahead.

Perhaps when we talk with a colleague, team, or an entire organization we should not be asking "Are you busy?" but rather "What are you working on?" and "Why are you working on it?"

The problem is that individuals and organizations may be very busy and working hard but working on the wrong things. They may even become very efficient but still end up in a trap of their own making and be, as Michael Porter recently observed, "...resigning themselves to life as a hamster."

What are some ways to avoid the treadmill and ensure that people are working on the right things?
Articulate a cause that is worthy of people's time and talents
Provide a specific target for people to aim at
Place more emphasis on purpose rather than procedures and tasks.
Draw straight lines between the work and the results expected.
Challenge people to set clear priorities.
Help people measure progress and outcomes.
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