Change Your Calendar, Change Your Life

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Image by Johnson BanksImage by Oscar Diaz

Is your time confined to the grid of your calendar or does your calendar enhance your approach to time?

What does your calendar look like?  It probably has 15 lines that combine to make around 30 boxes. Day by day even hour by hour, the important events, commitments and appointments in your life are confined to a basic grid.   

When we work within the constraints of the typical, the typical ensues. 

Have you ever tried to get creative with your calendar?  To ditch the monthly refrigerator grid that your accountant sends each year?  Or the dwarf sized pixels on your blackberry?

No matter what your calendar looks like, it has an underlying base of data that is standard and un-arguable. Hour >Day >Week > Month > Year.  

Having a baseline of data as a foundation for collaboration is paramount

As Josh Jones-Disworth says "Conducting business at the data level is not a practice for the future. It is a core competency, today... the democratization of data is the natural next step. For example, we’ve had heart rate monitors for some time now. We have scales in the bathroom, speedometers (and more recently fuel efficiency measures) in the car, and all manner of time sheets in the workplace. Every day, we gather vast amounts of data about ourselves, and vast amounts of data are gathered for us (and about us). Kevin Kelly refers to this as the quantified self. We are in many respects surrounded by gauges and dashboards, tachometers and GPS devices, calorie counters and performance metrics. Data mining and data journalism and data-driven application development, and now, data marketing and data-based business practices, are logical extensions." Read the whole article at Mashable.  

But in our daily work lives, it is rare that we use this base line of data to make decisions. A simple example of this is Avinash Kausnik. He is Google's Analytics Evangelist, and his job is to simply evangelize the use of data based decisions. He explains how to use analytics, but comes up against his biggest (and everyone who aggregates the analytics for their companies...) roadblocks; the executives who don't understand it and don't pay attention to it.

We keep track of companies that use specific collaboration methodologies to try and begin a baseline or foundation on how to collaborate better. We are starting to publish collaboration experiences that share historical analysis of what works well and what doesn't when collaborating in large groups. 

THREE examples from recent news highlight the gradual shift (hopefully) to more interactive, data and creativity based collaborations in the future. 


Rethinking Business School

“I think there’s a feeling that people need to sharpen their thinking skills, whether it’s questioning assumptions, or looking at problems from multiple points of view,” says David A. Garvin, a Harvard Business School professor who is co-author with Srikant M. Datar and Patrick G. Cullen of an upcoming book, “Rethinking the M.B.A.: Business Education at a Crossroads.”

Learning how to think critically — how to imaginatively frame questions and consider multiple perspectives — has historically been associated with a liberal arts education, not a business school curriculum, so this change represents something of a tectonic shift for business school leaders. Mr. Martin even describes his goal as a kind of “liberal arts M.B.A.”

Two years ago, for example, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford made a sweeping curriculum change that included more emphasis on multidisciplinary perspectives and understanding of cultural contexts.

Innovation, of course, is a business buzzword. So some business schools are embracing an innovation-oriented approach known as “design thinking.” Rotman has its “DesignWorks” department; Stanford has the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as the, where business students can take elective classes in design thinking. 



Recruit T-Shaped People

"We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they're willing to try to do what you do."

"Design thinking is inherently a prototyping process. Once you spot a promising idea, you build it. In a sense, we build to think."

Read more about this in a recent NY Times article.


Design Is Never Done

"Even after you've rolled out your new product, service, or process, you're just getting started. In almost every case, you move on to the next version, which is going to be better because you've had more time to think about it. The basic idea for the notebook computer came out of Ideo some 20 years ago: Ideo cofounder Bill Moggridge is listed on the patent for the design that lets you fold a screen over a keyboard. Since then, the laptop has been redesigned -- and greatly improved -- hundreds of times, because design is never done. The same goes for strategy. The market is always changing; your strategy needs to change with it. Since design thinking is inherently rooted in the world, it is ideally suited to helping your strategy evolve." 

The Prototype Tells a Story

"Prototyping is simultaneously an evaluative process -- it generates feedback and enables you to make midflight corrections -- and a storytelling process. It's a way of visually and viscerally describing your strategy."

Read more about prototyping and design in a recent FAST Company article.


And finally, think outside the CELL

We all use Excel (or Google Spreadsheets if you are really collaborative,) but what if we could crowdsource the information the we fill the cells with... would it be worth $0.05 worth of your time? What if we did the same thing for our calendars?