Thursday, June 28, 2018

Newsletter – June 2018

MeaningfulFlow June Newsletter by Wendy Wickham


If you wish to participate in the survey (anonymously) – click this Survey link.  The button in the email does not transition into the image.

Thank you for your help. I look forward to your responses.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Importance of Rest Stops in Projects

I work to design “rest stops” in my projects.

These rest stops aren’t necessarily milestones (though milestones make good rest stops).

Rest stops are places within the execution of the project where the team can take a breather and evaluate what they need.

  • Do they have the resources to continue?
  • What changes have occurred in the environment since they started?
  • Are there new resources available?
  • How are the team members feeling and what do they need to recharge?
  • Are we on the right path?  If not – how do we get back on the right path?
  • Should we even keep going?

The Pennsylvania Turnpike rest stop is just one type of “out”. The road is straight, there are limited “outs.” On the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you pay extra if you follow one of the exits and return.  Having mindfully designed rest stops helps to mitigate the risk of accruing unnecessary expenses.

I’m experimenting with video.  At some point in the near future, I will be adding transcripts.

Bear with me as I perfect my production process and please feel free to provide productive feedback in the comments.

Give me a few days to approve your comment.  I am on travel right now and my internet is spotty. I’m using approvals to keep spam off the blog.  Thank you for your patience.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Changes to Privacy Policy

I’ve made some changes to the Privacy Policy for my site and services.

Partially in response to GDPR requirements.

Partially to better reflect my values around privacy and the importance of what you share with me.

For those of you who wish to unsubscribe from my list, please click Unsubscribe in any email you receive from me. It will appear at the bottom of the mail.

For those who wish to have me remove any information I might have on my marketing database, please contact me at with the subject line Remove from Database.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

On Time, Resources and the Desired Experience

Sitting by a tree in Myersville, MD talking about trip/project planning.

Now that I am back home, here are the actual numbers:

If I went by plane (one way):

  • 1.5 hours for the actual flight between DC and Toronto
  • Take taxi to airport (anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours – dependent upon DC traffic)
  • Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before the flight
  • Pick up luggage and rental car – about 1 hour
  • Get to destination in Southern Ontario – 2 hours
  • Total travel time – 8 – 9 hours

Going by car (one way direct to final destination):

  • 10 hours, including stops.

Then there is the experience in a car vs. the plane:

  • I don’t have to worry so much about packing toiletries
  • My seat is significantly more comfortable
  • I can listen to whatever I want without getting interrupted
  • I am free to stop whenever I want
  • I am not disturbing anyone or climbing over people to use the bathroom
  • Even with gas prices, food, and wear and tear on my car – the car is significantly cheaper.

Fundamentally – I spent 1-2 extra hours for significantly more satisfaction and happiness.  I think that’s a great ROI.

Really, the only “disadvantage” of driving myself places is that I am not able to work (or at least do stuff in front of my computer).  Honestly, I don’t see “not being able to work in front of a computer” as a disadvantage.  I managed to get a lot of work done during my road trip – the videos are my evidence 🙂


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Relative Importance of Stakeholders – Using Cats


This gem from 2009 provides one of the best descriptions of stakeholders (and the perils of paying attention to the ones closest to you) I’ve seen.

It’s only 3 minutes.

Remember: Your project needs to ultimately satisfy the cat.

(Thanks to Brandon Carson for sharing this video.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Time Management Planning vs Contingent Planning and Why You Need Both

We found that increasing your engagement and productivity at work could be as simple as making a plan for the day. But these positive effects depended on what type of plan employees used and how many interruptions or disruptions they faced in their day-to-day work.

Research Shows a Simple Way to Increase Your Engagement at Work – Harvard Business Review

What they found is that we need to plan for distractions.

They looked at two types of planning:

  • Time Management Planning – which the researchers defined as planning what you are going to get done that day
  • Contingent Planning – or…how you will change your plan if you get interrupted. Which will happen unless you unplug everything and hide in a cave.

Just doing time management planning isn’t enough to stay engaged and productive.

People over-estimate how much they can get done and don’t consider what might hinder them from getting through their to-do lists.

Contingent planning accommodates the interruptions.

For me, this looks like:

  • Here are the 3 things I plan to get done today and when I am going to do it.  (Time Management planning – this shows up as blocks on my calendar)
  • Here’s the ONE thing I will get done today no matter what. (Contingent planning – the first thing I do that day)

The days I plan for interruptions and have contingency plans just in case – I walk away from the day feeling more accomplished.

The days I carefully plan what I am going to accomplish, then get pulled in a million different directions that I didn’t plan to get pulled in, I finish the day tired and frustrated.

The researchers set aside the question of interruptions and how to control the distractions in the first place.  They are assuming that we are not able to control these.

They may be right.

I’d love for us to at least start asking why we are so distracted and what purpose those distractions serve.

Why am I inviting distraction?  How do these distractions help me?

How am I distracting others? What are my motives?

Thursday, June 07, 2018

How to Create a Reskilling Environment

Reskilling is NOT about providing a library of online tutorials.

Reskilling is NOT about providing courses.

Or training.

Or any of those other singular events.

Reskilling is about developing new skills and knowledge to allow you to bring more value to the world.

Yes, training is a part of what is necessary for reskilling.  As Gary Wise explains, “training drives potential”.

How many times have you attended training, or a course, or watched an online tutorial, and never used the skill?

Or the environment didn’t encourage use of the skill?

Or the environment didn’t tolerate mistakes? Or time for practice?

To create a reskilling environment, we need to do the following:

  1. High-Quality Training.  Yes, training is an important tool.  It provides the knowledge transfer and introduction.  Training is only the beginning of the process. Oh yeah, and PLEASE allow the students to unplug when they are there.  If they have to continuously respond to email or Slack or IM or text or whatever while they are supposed to be training, no one is getting anything out of the time.  Your organization is handicapping its investment.
  2. Support at the Point of Work. Job aids, decision trees, whatever.  This is where the new skills go into application.  If they don’t need to memorize it, they don’t need to memorize it.
  3. Opportunities to Practice.  This means projects.  And this means projects with enough time to accommodate the practice of these new skills and low enough risk to allow for mistakes. And allowing for mistakes and lessons learned.
  4. Opportunities to Process. Give people the time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t.  Give people the time to figure out how to apply their new skills to solve the problems in front of them.  When people are rushed and stressed, they will revert back to old habits.
  5. Encouragement and Safe Spaces.  Learning new things is painful.  Especially if you have been an expert and now have to go back to being a beginner. There are setbacks. There are plateaus. There are times when it feels like you will never get it.  Be the guide. Remember when you went through that challenge. Remember what it felt like to be a beginner. Do this for your employees. Do this for your peers.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Reskilling Prong 6 – Sharing

I think I figured out why so many people are selling marketing solutions.

“Here’s what worked for me.”

It’s a way of monetizing the reflection step of learning.

I don’t blame them.  Setting up marketing requires a lot of complicated, unpaid work.

In my case, sharing what I learn outside of my immediate group of friends encourages me to process the information in ways where I cannot take shortcuts in my explanations.

  • What did I do and can I explain it in a way that others can follow?
  • What results did I intend?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • What would I have done differently if I knew then what I know now?
  • Why would I do those things differently?
  • What are my next steps?
  • What is my anticipated result?

Don’t worry.  I’m not going to be selling my marketing “solution” anytime soon.

There are others who are much more passionate about marketing as an activity.  And I’m still in early days.

If I become a kajillionaire doing this, I might change my mind.

Meanwhile – a reminder regarding my newsletter and mailing lists.

I appreciate everyone who reads this blog.  Thank you for spending your valuable time with me.

My sweet spot is helping middle managers and senior team leads cope with their current environment, find time to do the things that are important to them, and be less stressed about it all.

Let me know if you want to work together.

I am also offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.