Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Breaking Things Down

I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain.
- Henry Rollins

There are many days where I think about what I want to accomplish and become overwhelmed by the scope of it all.

In my Thoughts on Goals, I talked a little about how I break down goals into Immediate, Short-term, Medium-term and Long-term.

Jon M. in Barbells and Bacon, talks a little further about opportunity cost. Set a time goal for yourself and focusing for that period.

There is another layer of goal-setting. How do you take the big, long-term goal for yourself and break it down into manageable, focused steps?

I find myself going through this exercise each time I attempt something really big.

Right now, my Evil Plan is the attempt to create a one-stop shop for learning information.

Why am I even pursuing this?

- It's part personal: when I first started at my job I didn't know where to go to get help or the appropriate training. I'm still trying to figure it out. My managers have excellent networks, but no one has a real sense of what resources are out there.

- Others have the same problem. Every time I step in the classroom, whether it is new employees or 25 year veterans, the question is always "Where do I go for help and information?" "Where do I go for further / other training?" Half the time, I have to do research before I can answer them because I still, 18 months later, have no idea what is available.

- Other trainers have the same problem. Each time I talk to one of my colleagues in one of the multiple "training" groups (and these things are like weeds), we all have the same frustration. We have no consistent place to point them to. Half the time, we don't know where to go. Usually, we are reduced to pounding our network after the fact. And many of us hate not having immediate answers for our students.

This is big, hairy and scary.

I've been trying to break this down into manageable parts - mostly focused on the daily and short-term tasks. From cruel experience, I have found that projecting too far out is a sucker's game.

The daily - "I am going to get x done today on this tutorial / document / work."
The short-term - "I am going to finish x project / talk to y people"

Eventually, when you look at your work a year later, you can see what has been accomplished towards the larger goal and what is still left to do.

Big-scale change like this is a gradual process - no matter how much some executive thinks they can speed it up by unrealistic timelines. If it is a change that is going up against some long-standing values - the more gradual, the more buy-in, the better.

In this case, I am fighting the unspoken desire for maintaining "control" within their "silos."

The individual vs. collaborative is a very tricky nut to crack. As individuals (I know this all too well) and as groups. All I can do right now is chip away at it. Through prototyping. Through talking with others. Through practicing my own collaborative skills.

Daily, small goals and actions.

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