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jerryking : thinking_backwards   11

Work smarter, not harder. Here’s how
July 29, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by KIRA VERMOND, SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

Suzanne Andrew, a freelance writer in Vancouver, took stock of her growing number of deadlines. One client wanted her to complete 26 profiles – articles that describe an individual or organization – in one month.

“I love writing profiles, but when I looked at the amount of work, it felt crushing,” she says.

Rather than brace herself for 18-hour days, all-nighters and inevitable burnout, Ms. Andrew took a different approach. She paused and then came up with a game plan.

“I’d worked as a project manager in the past and found that what worked best when managing other people was to create work-back schedules and milestone deadlines,” she says. “As a freelancer I was used to simply working to deadline, but realized I could make things easier and less stressful if I acted as my own project manager.”.....Ms. Andrew created a work-back schedule that outlined exactly how many interviews she had to conduct, plus a daily writing quota to meet the overall deadline. Once she met her daily target, she could stop work for the day and rest.

Here are a few pointers.....

1. WORK WITH YOUR ATTENTION LEVELS
Not every moment of the day is created equal when it comes to feeling sharp and productive. Our brains can only handle so much focused work time. Everyone has three levels of attention: proactive, active and inactive.

Feeling proactive? You’re in the zone: Take advantage of those times each day. Active times are best spent on less focused tasks like addressing emails or making a phone call.

And those inactive times? “Your brain is cooked,” You should probably be taking a mental break, going for a walk or getting a cup of coffee. Even just doing low-priority, repetitive work like filing is a good idea.”
Work with your brain’s energy levels. Don’t fight them and push yourself through those inactive times.

2. PLAN THE NIGHT BEFORE
Don’t allow your inbox become your to-do list. Instead, take 10 minutes at the end of the workday and create tomorrow’s action plan. What’s most important? What must get done? The next morning, look at that list and work on the most vital tasks before even thinking about firing up e-mail.

3. THINK LIKE A SMOKER
Pay attention to the way smokers take their breaks: They leave the building, go outside and even socialize.
“I’m a big believer in quality breaks,” she says. “How you take your break is as important as [taking] a break.”Get up. Move. Take in some fresh air and talk to people. You’ll come back more refreshed and proactive.

4. TRY THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
....a productivity method, developed by a business consultant named Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. (Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian, a nod to old-school, plastic timers shaped like tomatoes.) The method dictates that you set a timer for a short amount of time – say, 25 or 30 minutes – and then focus on one task without interruption. Once the timer goes off, take a short break. Then, if needed, you do it again. Commit to going deep for 25 - 90 minutes (jk: sustained inquiry),” “It’s amazing when we consciously choose to do one thing, and one thing only, how much we get done.”
action_plans  attention  attention_spans  best_practices  focus  lists  monotasking  Pomodoro  preparation  priorities  productivity  project_management  slack_time  sustained_inquiry  thinking_backwards  thinking_deliberatively  timeouts  timing  to-do  work-back_schedules  work_smarter 
july 2019 by jerryking
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions | The future of business
05.28.15 | Fast Company | BY STEPHANIE VOZZA.
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions
A five-step decision-making process from a man who spent 25 years making life-and-death decisions.
(1) Question
(2) Drivers
(3) Metrics
(4) Data
(5) What's Missing/Blind Spots

1. FIND THE REAL QUESTION
Questions are NOT self-evident, says Mudd. Focusing on better questions up front yields better answers later.
“Good questions are hard to come up with,” he says. Delay data gathering and the conclusions.... think about exactly what it is we want to know..... Start with what you’re trying to accomplish and work your way back, instead of moving forward and making conclusions. The right question provides a decision advantage to the person at the head of the table.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR “DRIVERS”
Break down complex questions into characteristics or “drivers.” This approach gives you a way to manage data.
For example, sort data on Al Qaeda into information baskets that included money, recruits, leadership, communications, training, and access to weapons. When information flows in, rather than adding it to one unmanageable pile, sorting through it periodically, and offering a recitation of what appears to be relevant from the most recent stuff you’ve seen, file each bit into one of your baskets. Limit your drivers to 10.

3. DECIDE ON YOUR METRICS
Identify the metrics you’ll use to measure how the problem and solution are evolving over time.
What are the right metrics?
What are the new information sources and metrics?
Compare your thought process to the training process of an Olympic sprinter who measures success in hundredths of a second. “If we don’t, the analysis we provide will suffer the same fate as a sprinter who thinks he’s great but has never owned a stopwatch: he enters an elite competition, and reality intervenes,” Metrics provide a “mind mirror”–a system for judging your decisions. It provides a foundation for coming back to the table and assessing the process for success.

4. COLLECT THE DATA
Once you’ve built the framework that will help you make the hard decision, it’s time to gather the data. Overcome data overload by plugging data into their driver categories and excising anything that doesn’t fit. “Too much data might provide a false sense of security, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to clearer analytic decision making,”

Avoud intuition. It’s dangerous. Aggressively question the validity of your data. Once you have your data sorted, give yourself a grade that represents your confidence in assessing your question.

5. LOOK FOR WHAT’S MISSING
Complex analysis isn’t easy. Assume that the process is flawed and check for gaps and errors. Three common stumbling blocks are:

Availability bias: The instinct to rely on what you know or what has been most recently in the news.
Halo effect: When you write off the negative characteristics because you’re mesmerized by the positive attributes.
Intuitive versus analytic methodologies: when you go with your gut. Relying on intuition is dangerous.

Mudd says making complex decisions is hard work. “It’s a lot of fun to be an expert who bases their ideas on history and not a lot of fun to be an analyst who must always be assessing potential scenarios,” he says. “Every time you go into a problem, and before you rip into data, ask yourself, ‘Am I sure where I’m heading?’”
asking_the_right_questions  availability_bias  biases  decision_making  false_sense_of_security  gut_feelings  halo_effects  hard_choices  intuition  intelligence_analysts  life-and-death  metrics  Philip_Mudd  problem_definition  organizing_data  problem_framing  sorting  thinking_backwards 
october 2017 by jerryking
Thane Stenner: Here’s where the wealthy get their investment ‘edge’
Mar. 02, 2016 | The Globe and Mail | THANE STENNER.

They have clear investment goals: High-net-worth individuals are obsessive goal setters. They always know why they’re investing (beyond “to make money”). They reverse-engineer their return objectives to meet both long- and short-term goals.

They know when to delegate: High-net-worth investors are not “do-it-yourself” investors.

They think risk first: High-net-worth individuals are generally focused on wealth protection as much as wealth generation.

It’s business: In general, high-net-worth investors tend to be good at “segregating” their emotions from their investment decisions.

They keep the news in perspective: Most wealthy individuals are news junkies. Of course they listen to, digest, and consider a lot of financial news. But the focus of their attention is on long-term trends, not necessarily up-to-the-minute financial data. And they think very, very carefully before making any decision based on news.

They seize the opportunity in crisis: Most high-net-worth individuals are born contrarians.
high_net_worth  slight_edge  investing  investors  rules_of_the_game  Thane_Stenner  goal-setting  contrarians  reverse_engineering  wealth_protection  kairos  impact_investing  passions  passion_investing  calm  Carpe_diem  Michael_McDerment  thinking_deliberatively  thinking_backwards  work-back_schedules 
march 2016 by jerryking
Mastering the Art of Problem Solving
When President Bill Clinton chose to intervene in the Somali civil war in 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu resulted in thousands of Somali citizens killed, two American Black Hawk helicopters shot down,…

WHAT ABOUT THE DATA?
Increasing amounts of data can be unmanageable, and the problem of sorting through data overloads may only worsen in this digital era. Rather than looking at each bit of information as a discrete data point, we want to look at our drivers and sort the data according to which driver it supports--on other words, sort the data into each of the half-dozen or so driver categories, so analysts have few piles to deal with rather than a thousand discrete data points.
decision_making  howto  problem_solving  problem_framing  security_&_intelligence  CIA  books  information_overload  analysis  interviews  critical_thinking  book_reviews  Philip_Mudd  frameworks  insights  sorting  analysts  thinking_backwards  problem_definition  intelligence_analysts 
may 2015 by jerryking
Eight ways to become the most proactive person you know - The Globe and Mail
MICHAEL MOGILL
Young Entrepreneur Council
Published Tuesday, Dec. 09 2014

It’s all about you. No one else is going to get you where you want to go – it’s up to you.... Take ownership of your problems, and realize that nobody else is going to solve them for you.

Be solution-focused. ...The most effective way to handle a problem is to focus on finding a solution. Focusing on things that are out of your control is a waste of time, so focus on what you can control with the final outcome.

Be accountable. Set your clearly defined, quantifiable goal and then work backwards from that goal to establish metrics to track and evaluate it.

Use “SMART” goals. S: Specific (Pick something particular instead of using a broad category.) M: Measurable (Choose something you can quantify.) A: Attainable (You should actually be able to reach this, and it may just require the right steps.) R: Realistic (Be honest – it’s probably unrealistic to say you will go from making $10,000 to being a billionaire in one year.)T: Timely (Give each goal a timeframe to create a sense of urgency.)

Make your own luck. Being successful ... is about taking steps every day to be better than you were the day before by moving in a positive, forward trajectory. Make a blueprint and set out milestones for yourself in specific timeframes, or you are not going to hit your goal. Things do not come to fruition just because you really, really want them to happen. You have to make them happen.

Be consistent. Ultimately, success is not about getting everything right. It is about being consistent. Are you consistently and persistently taking steps every day to steadily move toward your goal?

Find the right people. Surrounding yourself with driven, effective people is a proven way to help you succeed.

Honesty is the best policy. Busywork is not effectiveness/progress. At the end of the day, if you don’t hit your goals, you are only doing a disservice to yourself. You cannot get better if you tell yourself, “Oh, it’s okay, I’m fine where I am.” (There has to be a certain element of sustained dissatisfaction).
accountability  affirmations  beyond_one's_control  blueprints  books  busywork  chance  character_traits  consistency  contingency  creating_opportunities  dissatisfaction  effectiveness  goal-setting  GTD  honesty  indispensable  intrinsically_motivated  It's_up_to_me  JCK  ksfs  luck  Managing_Your_Career  personal_control  proactivity  problem_solving  productivity  rainmaking  restlessness  self-starters  solutions  solution-finders  span_of_control  the_right_people  thinking_backwards  work-back_schedules 
december 2014 by jerryking
New Rules for Bringing Innovations to Market
March 2004 | HBR | Bhaskar Chakravorti.

The more networked a market is, the harder it is for an innovation to take hold, writes Bhaskar Chakravorti, who leads Monitor Group's practice on strategies for growth and managing uncertainty through the application of game theory. Chakravorti argues that executives need to rethink the way they bring innovations to market, specifically by orchestrating behavior change across the market, so that a large number of players adopt their offerings and believe they are better off for having done so. He outlines a four-part framework for doing just that: The innovator must reason back from a target endgame, implementing only those strategies that maximize its chances of getting to its goal. It must complement power players, positioning its innovation as an enhancement to their products or services. The innovator must offer coordinated switching incentives to three core groups: the players that add to the innovation's benefits, the players that act as channels to adopters and the adopters themselves. And it must preserve flexibility in case its initial strategy fails.

Chakravorti uses Adobe's introduction of its Acrobat software as an example of an innovator that took into account other players in the network--and succeeded because of it. As more content became available in Acrobat format, more readers were motivated to download the program," he observes. "The flexibility in Acrobat's product structure and the segmentation in the market allowed the pricing elasticity that resulted in the software's widespread adoption."
HBR  innovation  networks  network_effects  rules_of_the_game  commercialization  monetization  product_launches  howto  growth  managing_uncertainty  cloud_computing  endgame  Adobe  uncertainty  switching_costs  jump-start  platforms  orchestration  ecosystems  big_bang  behaviours  behavioral_change  frameworks  sharing_economy  customer_adoption  thinking_backwards  new_categories  early_adopters  distribution_channels  work-back_schedules 
july 2012 by jerryking
Why Panic Passes Him By - WSJ.com
October 15, 2008 | WSJ | By PAUL B. CARROLL who reviews
The Snowball
By Alice Schroeder
(Bantam, 960 pages, $35)

Why Panic Passes Him By
All you wanted to know about Warren Buffett – and more.

While much of Mr. Buffett's methods can't be duplicated -- genius is genius, after all -- "The Snowball" usefully emphasizes a few core Buffett imperatives: taking a close look at an investment's intrinsic value, making a brutal evaluation of its risks, and calculating a margin of safety. The book also underscores the importance of learning from failures. The Buffett-Munger approach is to "invert, always invert. Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What's in it for the other guy? What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don't we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead."
Berkshire_Hathaway  book_reviews  books  Charlie_Munger  failure  genius  intrinsic_value  investing  investors  lessons_learned  margin_of_safety  off-plan  panics  Plan_B  post-mortems  risk-assessment  thinking_backwards  thinking_tragically  Warren_Buffett  worst-case 
june 2012 by jerryking
Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)
Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

The point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are 10 strategies to see problems from many different perspectives and to master the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!
The Problem Is To Know What the Problem Is

The definition of the problem will be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts.
1. Rephrase the Problem
2. Expose and Challenge Assumptions
3. Chunk Up
4. Chunk Down. From Engineering school--break a problem into its component sub-systems, solve at that level, and then combine mini solutions.
5. Find Multiple Perspectives
6. Use Effective Language Constructs
7. Make It Engaging
8. Reverse the Problem
9. Gather Facts
10. Problem-Solve Your Problem Statement
Albert_Einstein  creativity  critical_thinking  engineering  lifehacks  Philip_Mudd  problems  problem_definition  problem_framing  problem_solving  thinking  thinking_backwards  tips  uncharted_problems 
january 2012 by jerryking
7 Things Highly Productive People Do
Dec 13, 2011 | Inc.com |By Ilya Pozin. 

Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks.
Stop multi-tasking
Be militant about eliminating distractions
Schedule your email
Use the phone
Work on your own agenda
Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals
affirmations  distractions  lifehacks  monotasking  productivity  thinking_backwards  tips  work-back_schedules 
december 2011 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: Asking 'why' again and again is harder than you think, but it works
May 5, 2008 | Report on Business pg. B10 | by George Stalk.
George's column in the G&M on the benefit of asking "why" five times
to increase one's chances of being able to work backwards to
identifying a problem's root cause.
5_W’s  BCG  George_Stalk_Jr.  questions  root_cause  thinking_backwards  work-back_schedules 
january 2009 by jerryking

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