Are You the Bottleneck?
Are you the bottleneck in your organization?
Are people waiting for answers? Data? Decisions?
Do you ever wake up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m. suddenly remembering a forgotten detail promised to a colleague?
If you are a busy Global Creative reading this blog, The Bottleneck is a likely scenario.
How do I know this?
It’s pretty simple. As a busy Global Creative you have discovered how to harness some of your innate gifts along with skills developed over the years. Given your unique skillset and perspective on the world you have become indispensable in your organization. This is a good thing—very good—but if you are in demand and a key conduit in your organization’s daily decision-making system and you have associative (non-sequential) wiring like me, it is likely that the inflow of data and requests is greater than your outflow of engagement and completion.
Voila, a bottleneck is formed.
If many of the executive decisions that pass over your desk are caught in a swirling eddy pool you may be hurting your organization and damaging key relationships.
Finally, you may be exacerbating the situation by downplaying this phenomenon due to one of these five bottleneck myths:
1. I don’t have a bottleneck
It is likely that you do. If you have ADHD you will likely have some discrepancy between what is possible and what you actually do. We are notorious front end loaders who like to say ‘Yes!’ and not think of the time and commitment of that ‘Yes’. Additionally, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ rings true for us. Data behind the logjam goes quiet much like water in an eddy pool above a large rapid. We attend to what is urgent, what is interesting, what is in the rapids. We downplay and dismiss things that are not active. We mistake ‘still waters’ for calm and ‘A-Okay’.
2. I need more information to proceed
This is a classic delay tactic we use in order to not initiate a task (stay in awareness and not move into engagement). You can call it procrastination. I call it a transition breakdown. Notice avoidance or delay tactics here. Pay attention to how much time you put to ‘research’ and distinguish research (planning and prep) from actual work (production).
3. All information must pass through me
People in linchpin positions as mentioned above can feel a need to have all information pass over their desk. If you are a control freak then you have control issues. However, Global Creatives are anything but control freaks. This is more of a not-so-effective tracking and managing strategy. This is a major culprit for creating a bottleneck situation. Empower others to track information and develop agreements to share data so you are not left out of the loop. Aim for executive summaries more that trying to track every byte of data.
4. All information must to pass through my brain
This is another belief that may be a cover for not having a decent system for managing and tracking key commitments, projects and actions. Global Creatives will often try to hold details in their head or forget to use a system they have in place. The 3 a.m. sudden wake up scenario at the beginning of the article happens for a reason. Given that our brains do important memory sorting while we sleep, this 3 a.m. wake up may be indicative of trying to hold too many details in our own gray matter.
5. They don’t seem to care so I won't either
Just because someone is not asking for something doesn’t mean it is not important. This is basically prioritization by urgency which results in rationalizing inaction around the Quad II Important/Not Urgent items that tend to reside quietly at the bottom of those eddy pools that form above a bottleneck. Inviting others to review ‘Eddy items’ on a regular basis can help to stir the still waters and bring priority matters to the surface.
No one is suggesting you give up time in the exciting rapids of your day. Addressing bottlenecks proactively, though, can give you a better picture of what is on your plate and bring more balance and a sense of control to your workday.