Are We Busy or Productive?

In 2011, I was on the lookout for a tool I did not know existed at the time, but eventually it found me.
Several years ago, Mark Newton founded the idea of irunurun out of desperation when his business was failing. He was extremely busy working on many things, but he was not making any progress in the business. In fact, from his perspective, it was all coming to an end.
Upon arriving at a place of desperation, he felt compelled to go into his office and throw away his business plan binder. He proceeded to go to his desk and write down the 5 actions he knew he needed to do to move his company forward. By writing them down, he could now see if he was actually doing the actions which would result in the success of his business. With this tracking in place, he quickly came to find out he was scoring poorly on these actions. He was really busy doing many things that were not helping him grow.
Busyness distracted Mark from what mattered. In this chaos it was hard to see why he was not succeeding, but as he began to focus, it was clear why he was not moving forward. With this revelation in hand, he now needed a way to help him execute the actions he was not doing. He proceeded to reach out to his friends for accountability. He would send them weekly, a spreadsheet of his actions and scores. Quickly, he came to realize this new-found accountability fostered the drive to make progress on fulfilling his actions.
Slowly, he began to crawl out of the pit he had gotten into and towards what he defined as success. While it was not easy to follow through and enforce the discipline he needed, he arrived at the point where he was consistently executing the actions he needed to do. And, as a result, his insurance practice began to grow.
When I found out about, it helped me change my life. I was living a life of mediocrity, chronic inconsistency and I knew I could do more. I knew my potential, but I struggled to bring this to fruition. As I share on their blog, my struggle to find the key to this locked door was not an easy one.
I recently read a blog by Sara Curtis of the Leaders Lyceum, who introduced me to irunurun. The blog talks about how 'busy' is the new 'fine'. She states in her blog the following: 
"We find our days consumed by reacting to the urgent rather than investing in the important."
Like me, like Mark and like so many others we can find ourselves in a place of busy. Sometimes it's time for us to take a moment and ask ourselves, are we actually being productive? Are we actually moving towards what we have defined as success?
For you, which is it? Are you busy, or productive?

The Jump: Transitioning Your Organization From Chaos To Order


This post is part of a series of posts about IDEMA. IDEMA is a process that came out of the Noodlehead Marketing journey. 

While using the IDEMA framework we realized the power it had as it continued to permeate our organization. Everything changed for the better the more we used it. While we saw and experienced the value, we had a disconnect in conveying the value of this system to the outside world in way which was sustaining. We had trouble transitioning from chaos to order. 
We knew the power of IDEMA, but practically speaking how was an outside organization going to migrate to it when they were in organizational chaos?
Learning A New Way
It wasn't until our year of release did I learn how to bridge the gap. For a while, I had attempted to bring the system of IDEMA into our personal life as I saw it as a way for our family to be more organized and focused. For various reasons, my wife was not interested in using or going through any of my processes. This required me to set aside my way of doing things and figure out a new way to approach this.
At the time she was resistant, my wife had become exhausted taking care of the house, kids and her community responsibilities. This had resulted in a situation where our home life was in a bit of chaos. I wanted to help alleviate the pain, so I asked her for some time to discuss how I could help her. She proceeded to tell me she had no time and was so tired she couldn't even talk with me on how I could help her. At this point she began feeling despair thinking there was no way out of this cycle of chaos she had been in. 
I began thinking to myself about how I could help. Sometimes we just know things we could do to help and so I just began asserting myself taking care of things. I began getting up early with the kids and letting her sleep in. I made breakfast, and I began doing different chores around the house. While I was doing this, I was writing down all of these actions that needed to be done. I began grouping these actions into manageable categories. 
The Epiphany 
Now my approach before was to take the idea, discover it, build it and then maintain it. In this situation I just had to assess the situation quickly and identify where I could help. Each day I would find more ways I could help, and eventually I was able to alleviate enough pressure to establish a comfortable margin. I was now holding up many responsibilities she once held. This gave her a break and allowed me to review it all objectively in order to discover how we might manage it all better.
What I learned from this season of chaos was, IDEMA is limited in how it can help us in a state of chaos. In this place, we need someone who can transition us towards a system such as IDEMA as a way of helping us out of the chaos.
We need help capturing the rogue activities and getting them done so things don't get worse. 
We need help organizing these actions in a way we can begin to properly discover them. 
We need help with clear accountability so we don't stay stuck.
But, it gets messy. It's as if our cart is in a trench in the mud. There is not a clear and easy process to get back on the road. We just need to help pull each other out and grab the pieces of the cart worth salvaging. Once we get out of the trench (chaos) and onto the road (order) we can now make real progress towards our vision.
Our Transition Requires Two Initiatives
Chaos to Order Transition
When we work with an organization in chaos, we need to have two initiatives running. 
The first initiative is rogue idea and action management. Rogue action management is a process we go through to identify what actions we know, without discovering, need to get done to move the organization forward. We establish accountability for these actions and create a scheduled followup to ensure we are doing them. Our intent as an organization is these rogue actions decline over time. 
Our second initiative is process oriented idea and action management. In our case, this is where we take existing and new ideas through the IDEMA framework. We want to properly discover and execute them. We want to ensure we are maintaining with excellence. We want to schedule time when we regularly audit ourselves to ensure we are going the right direction. Over time we should be more process oriented and less rogue oriented.
This is the journey from chaos to order. A journey where chaos is minimized and order is created. It results in an organization dependent on systems, not people. 
This allows us to execute with excellence. 
This allows people to thrive and community to flourish. 

How can this transition framework help your organization?

The Audit Stage - Continue, Change or Stop?

This post is part of a series of posts about IDEMA. IDEMA is a process that came out of the Noodlehead Marketing journey.

Audit Overview

  • Have you ever been in a situation where you were doing something the way things have always been done wondering why you were still doing it that way?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where there was a better way to do what you were doing and you wondered why you had not switched to the better way?
  • Have you ever wanted evidence the actions you were taking were having the impact you wanted?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where some activity you were doing probably should have been stopped long ago?
If you have ever asked yourself something like this in your work or life, you now know the value of an audit. People, circumstances, resources change and we must change in order to stay effective in what we are doing. If we don't we are likely to maintain a behavior and culture in our organization which will lead to our demise.
The audit helps to reassure us and guide us forward. It helps us to see what is working and affirm it. It helps us to see what needs improvement and change it. It helps us to see what is no longer working and stop it. 
In order to gain the value of an audit, we must take ourselves through a vigorous process. It is a process which, at first, may be uncomfortable. For a moment, we may be exposed but it is essential if we are to grow and improve.
We have broken the audit into three main stages.

The First Stage - The Painting Of Three Portraits

Our first stage in the audit process is where we paint three portraits. The portrait of our past, the portrait of our present and the portrait we want our future to be.

Our past is important because it gives us insight into our origin and where we came from. It also allows us to learn how we succeeded and how we failed. These lessons are invaluable as we move forward.

When we have a clear picture of the present, it allows us to see how we have changed from when we started. It also gives us our starting point in moving towards our future.

Our future is important because it will be the vision which leads our actions. The contrast between the present and the future allows us to see and prioritize the gaps we must bridge in order to arrive at our destination.

The Second Stage - Reflecting On Our Portraits

Our second stage is where we reflect on our findings and determine how we will respond. We will have three options as we reflect on our organization, department or project.
  1. When our present and future portrait are the same, or the difference is not worth pursuing, we continue doing what we are doing without change
  2. When our present and future portraits are different, and the difference is worth pursuing, we will change our way of doing things.
  3. When we have no future portrait worth pursuing, we will stop.

The Third Stage - Our Next Step

Our third stage is where we decide what we will do next. We have seen the portrait of our past, present and future. We have determined we want to keep going, change or stop.

If we chose to change, our process revealed insight which led to ideas for improving what we were doing. Our next step is to create a plan for beginning our journey of change.

If we chose to continue without change, our process ought to have affirmed us that what were doing was in deed the best way to accomplish what we were intending to accomplish. At this point, our next steps is to memorialize the audit process story for future reference. 

If we chose to stop, our process has saved us from wasting future efforts and resources in an endeavor ultimately leading to termination.

Audit Areas

When we intend to run an audit, there are several areas we can focus this effort on and like an onion, an organization has layers. We believe there are three meaningful layers. A core (Organization Foundation), a support layer (Departments & Campaigns) and an external layer (Projects). 
An audit can be done in each of these three areas.

The Core

The Core (Purpose, Vision, Mission & Core Values) is the most important element of our organization. We want our core strong because it will be what holds us together through time and tough circumstances. Auditing the core assess it's strength and accuracy. We follow a process to determine how strong it is. Where elements of the core are missing, we will work together to fill in the gaps.

The Support Layer

The Support layer (Departments) is how we segment our organization so we can easily delegate categories of authority to operate within our organizational structure. A support layer audit will focus on a specific department. We will evaluate the structure of the department, its goals, priorities and projects. For a department audit, we would select a department such as marketing and evaluate it. Our intent is to identify elements within this department, but we will restrain from diving deep into individual projects.

The External Layer

The External layer (Projects) is how we segment our departments into tactical actions. These projects tend to directly address a specific gap and are key to bringing the vision of an organization to life. The everyday actions come as a result of a project. For a project audit, we could assess a website, email marketing campaign, new member orientation, or sales process.

Where do you need an audit? 

Provision: This Man's Struggle To Let It Go


Recently, we decided to make two major life decisions soon after having our 3rd child. The first decision we made was to shut down our marketing company of 7 years. Second, we committed to leave the condo we have lived in since we moved to Atlanta almost 9 years ago. It's the only home my wife and I have ever lived in together and we brought each of our three children there from the hospital.
We made two big decisions in our life without knowing where we would work or live. In many situations we have walked out in faith. In fact, it's how we ended up in Atlanta. But, this is one of those rare occasions where we jumped in faith without knowing what we were jumping to.
It's been just over a month since we shut down the company, and God has orchestrated our future beautifully. Without seeking it, God brought me 8 paying projects. These projects ranged from helping a non profit get focused and organized as well as working on a few website projects. Also, we received a generous tax return, and we were reimbursed for some medical expenses from our provider. All our expenses and outstanding financial responsibilities were covered, and there are more projects heading my way in the upcoming weeks.
In addition to His financial provision, God has also brought us a place to live. We were recently connected to a new landlord through our church. Our soon to be landlord closed the sale of his rental home on Good Friday. On Easter, Resurrection Sunday, we were connected to him through a family in our church during the Easter service at the park. The significance in the timing of these events has been inspiring.
God brought us a home and work to sustain us, and our horizon looks promising. 
I committed to give my finances and provisional responsibility over to God. He has called me to be responsible and steward well, but it's time I gave him back the ultimate responsibility of being our provider.
I commit to respond with excellence to the opportunities that come my way and those I seek out. I trust God will provide for our needs before we even know what they are.  
God, when I operate from a mindset of scarcity, show me your abundance. Please help me to be able to fulfill my financial obligations with excellence and pro-activity. I want to be able to directly address our needs and gaps and not delay for fear of provision. God, you have sustained us and you have provided above and beyond what we could have ever expected. 
Thank you for your provision and the loving community you have orchestrated around us during this season of our life.

Where, in your life, do you need to let go?

May 7th: Weekly Content Roundup

I am currently reading Dirt Roads and Daydreams by Dave Brown.

Here is the best content I consumed this past week...

Best In Business

The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns

Page Spotlight

We Are The Sum Of Our Choices (link no longer active)

The Benefits Of Positioning (link no longer active)

Best In Productivity

If You Want to Be More Productive, Get More Sleep

"This infographic describes how elite athletes sleep more in order to improve their performance."

Best In Images

Dirt Devil Honest Slogans

Best In Faith

How God turns a French atheist into a Christian theologian - My conversion story.

Reasonable Faith Podcast Link

"Her religious beliefs clearly remained the problem, and my new goal in life was essentially to explain to her why all this was untenable, so that she could put this nonsense behind her, and we could be together without her misconceptions standing in the way. So I started thinking about the whole thing. What good reason was there to think God exists, and what good reason was there to think atheism was true instead?"

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Grow Your Life With Jason Scott Montoya, Atlanta Georgia
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