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Optimizing Teams for Fast Flow



Collette Tauscher discusses how to rethink optimization and visibility through the lens of the business.


Collette Tauscher is Director of Supply Chain Strategy @Columbia1938.

About the conference

QCon Plus is a virtual conference for senior software engineers and architects that covers the trends, best practices, and solutions leveraged by the world's most innovative software organizations.


Tauscher: I want to start by telling you a story that may resonate with some of you here. Let me set the stage for you. I'd just joined my company, and was asked to sit in a few meetings and observe to learn the team and people as part of my onboarding. Because I understand lean process improvement, our leader thought I could have a point of view on the subject at hand. For context, I sit in the business, also known as global supply chain, and you got to love when business people find a fun new way of working, and try to apply it without a ton of context or experience in the space. One of our teams read about value stream mapping, and how it could reduce waste in the system, and solve all of our problems, because that's what the industry experts had told us, so that's what we were going to do. The company brought in some great consultants, and did value stream mapping, A3, fishbone diagrams, and created a plan to automate some processes within our logistics planning space. It was beautiful, and it was big. After a few months of these workshops and reports on the great plan, our leader was frustrated with the lack of outcomes and actions delivered, the amount of time spent on a single silo of this work, and the fact that our technology teams were not aligned to the recommendations didn't help us a lot, either. This is when I asked the team if we'd established clear outcomes before we got started, and had an aligned vision for the whole team to rally around. The questions I asked looked like, what is the outcome you are looking to achieve? The other, what problem do you want to solve? When I started to get several different frustrated responses from the team that they were told to do it this way, or if we change course now, we would just get punished for the project. I realized, not only did we need to stop and recalibrate, but we had some serious work to do around the culture of psychological safety.

Now fast forward about six months, and with a reset on direction, starting with the outcomes, we were able to bring the team together to align on the goals, set expectations through priority, and then develop an operating model that focused on strategic partnerships. Now, we're delivering 2x cost savings and it decreased lead times to almost pre-pandemic levels. This operating model is a totally new way of working for our teams, and that has stripped away the more traditional operational silos and enabled accountability to the teams who own the outcome. In doing this, we have had to make tradeoffs of what will continue to be important and what no longer is business critical, as we are focused now more than ever on a human centric work model. Through it all, we are able to look back and say that we learned a lot and have a long way to go on our journey. That is something I think most people listening can say, "Yes, Collette, I've experienced that too before."


I'm Collette Tauscher. The Director of Strategy for Supply Chain at Columbia Sportswear Company. It's my pleasure to be here and share the story with you and talk about optimizing teams for flow. I'm sure you all are wondering why I'm here and how am I connected and qualified to speak to an audience of highly skilled technical folks? I'm not technical, and I'm not an engineer, unless you count when I used to moonlight as a solutions architect when they let me. I'll let you decide if I'm qualified. What I am is someone who has been through, built, and delivered several major transformational changes in global companies, from manufacturing, to technology, to supply chain. Along the way, I have learned a few things that have landed me in the space where I am now. I now sit on the senior leadership team for supply chain at Columbia. I'm surrounded by an awesome group of talented individuals who I have the pleasure of managing while we work together to shape the strategy, transformation, and journey of our company.

In my journey to Columbia, I spent time with the then Oakland Raiders, in the PR and internet services team, standing up parts of their site for fan engagement, building the frontend of, writing articles, and creating their first digital blog. Then I left sports and moved into packaging, where I was trained on lean processes, and Six Sigma, to oversee transformations of major packaging plants in Asia and along the west coast. I took those skills and continue to hone in those project management pieces of it, and the light development of Flash at a digital marketing company. Took that package and went to Nike where I spent almost a decade in technology, bringing to life the commerce platform on AWS, launching two apps. Then sitting on the transformation team to plan one of the largest technology transformations the company went through to redesign the operating model for technology at Nike. During all of this, I wanted to branch out and learn a new function and gain more end-to-end business experience. I wanted to try a new challenge. I started and finished a master's degree at Michigan State in supply chain management strategy, specializing in logistics, right when the pandemic kicked into full gear. For the last several years, I've been answering really fun questions about supply chain issues to executives who don't understand why they don't have toilet paper, or if we bought our own airplane, can't we just fly it to bring our products over into Portland? What does all of this mean to you? I wanted to share how my experiences working in, with, and around technology for the last several decades has shaped how I look at optimizing teams, people, and organizations from a different point of view.

Principle 1: Start with the Culture Shift Needed to Activate a People Centric Model

From this talk, you will take away three things. It's important to start with the culture shift needed to activate a people centric model. Make sure that you pace yourself and the team with intentional capacity prioritization. Always celebrate continuous learning. If we start with culture, there are so many different ways to think about what this means, and the buzzwords that float into everyone's mind when they hear the phrase, our corporate culture. I found an interesting stat from Gartner that stated, 46% of respondents surveyed cited that culture challenges to accept change is the number one roadblock most critical to transformation. To help explain this, I have a little example for us that's fun. There was an experiment that took place in 1967. Now imagine, there's five monkeys in a room, and there's a ladder with a bunch of bananas at the top of the ladder. Every time one of the monkeys climbs the ladder, all of the monkeys get sprayed with cold water for five minutes. The next monkey tries this again, and is again sprayed with cold water for five minutes. After a while, they said it was three or four monkeys, they stopped climbing the ladder to get to the bananas. They were conditioned in the culture.

Then the keeper took out one of the original monkeys and replaced it with a new monkey who's not been sprayed with water. What happens is when this new monkey sees the bananas and tries to climb the ladder, the other monkeys don't let it go. They jump on it. They try and hold that monkey down because they don't want to get sprayed with water. The new monkey is confused, doesn't understand why, so tries it again. Again, the other monkeys stop the new monkey from climbing the ladder. After a while, the new monkey who doesn't know why he can't climb the ladder is conditioned to not climb the ladder. Then the keepers replace all of the monkeys in the cage. They're all new monkeys that are in this room, and none of them will climb the ladder to get to the bananas but they don't know why, but they're conditioned not to climb the ladder. What does this teach us? I think that we often do things that have been done a certain way but we aren't always entirely sure why. Traditions like this are a part of our everyday life, both in the office and outside in our personal lives. Some traditions in the workplace can stunt progress and hinder new employees from challenging the status quo to try new things like the monkeys who had been conditioned.

When you're thinking about hitting the reset button on your corporate culture, stop and ask yourself a few questions. Does your organization encourage open dialogue and collaboration? Do you recognize and reward risk takers and innovative thinkers? If you answered no to at least one of those questions, stop and think about it, if the foundation of psychological safety is established and part of your DNA for all members of the team. If not, then that's where you need to start. Without that strong foundation, the building bricks of your company culture will not withstand the ongoing stresses that you'll place on it. Once you have that nice, solid foundation, begin layering the brickwork of your culture journey. I'm going to highlight a few things here, but there is much more depth behind each of these that I'm not going to drain. This will give you the idea for what it can take to launch a strong and effective culture. First, you have to get on mission together. Meaning, it's important to honor the past but don't be like the monkeys and stay rooted in it. Think about how you want to honor it and use it to build your values.

Next, be clear from the top. Meaning, how do you want to get work done? You need to be sharp on that operating model. Then, when you think that you've communicated what your vision is, and how you want to work together, communicate. There is no such thing as too much communication when you're going through change. Then you have to build the trust. Spend time together. I know, forced corporate fun, but there's something to be said about that social relationship that is really important as you're building the culture. While you are spending that time together and part of building trust, is continuing to ask for feedback. Make sure you're building those strong support systems. Having role clarity so people don't feel like there's confusion between what they're doing and what they shouldn't be doing anymore. Part of that also is once you've built that trust, wrapping it all up, is continuing to grow those relationships. It's ok to have different types of relationships. Keep in mind that relationships like the plant that may or may not still be living on your desk, needs water and light to grow, just like your relationships.

Principle 2: Intentional Capacity Prioritization

It's time for me to switch gears and jump right into that second takeaway, intentional capacity prioritization. The reason why I have some of the key takeaways when thinking about transformation, flow and change, is that it's also so very exciting that we want to do it all. We want to do it all and we want to do it right now. We can't do it all well, or to the bar that we want to do it right. This is where leaders have an opportunity to be vulnerable and set expectations, guardrails, and direction for the organization, teams, and people. The greatest asset to any company is its people. Be clear on a prioritization framework that can be easily communicated and used as a backdrop for ongoing conversations with the team members and managers.

I'm going to give you an example of an activity we did with our extended leadership team several months ago, when I was getting overwhelming feedback that everyone was overworked, feeling burned out, just not able to take one more fire drill without letting something else drop as a result. The activity was called the 8-hour ask, because at the time, the initial focus was to reduce the workload by 8 hours in order to reduce stress and improve work-life balance. However, as we embarked on the exercise, we quickly realized this was a ridiculous name. The outcome we were seeking by doing this activity was to have clarity to where everyone was spending their time, and how we could make sure that each individual is able to dedicate the right amount of time to the right work. While the activity was never renamed, the intent was reshaped and the outcomes sharpened. What I'm sharing with you now is my personal one-pager that I created as an input for the discussion. You can see that I was intentional with my outcomes on the right-hand side, and how I was going to use specific actions to work on achieving my perfect pie for time allocation in a given week. The actions are also reminders that communication is key in any form. It is important to be clear on intent. I also included a note about personal and business hours, because in our current working environment, where we have blurred the lines of work and home, it became very clear that always on was very real. I needed to be intentional on when I would be in the office, and on those days, plan for commute time. Because as a working mom of three young children, I have bus duty and soccer practice and music lessons. That is all if not more important than a status update meeting. I will often work after bedtime, and so that works for me and my family to ensure I'm a good employee, a good mom, and a good spouse. My prioritization capacity needed to plan for flexibility.

Then, we went to a team exercise once everyone had created their one-pagers. We sat down as a group, and had a breakout discussion where we shared feedback on what each of us had learned from the activity. We shared themes across teams, and leaders, and how we wanted to leverage this throughout the organization to provide visibility and clarity to where our priorities were. Some members came in with detailed action plans detailing out time blocking dedicated to specific types of work. While others, including myself, had to go back and make adjustments to my own work to ensure I was allowing time for my personal development and not letting that piece of the pie always get crushed when a hot potato got handed off. If you're saying to yourself, yes, that looks great, but things always come up, and the work just has to get done. You're not wrong, let me tell you. I can just say that when we rolled this out, it was really hard to adhere to the framework. I personally started to keep track of my work weekly on a Kanban board that I use for my one-on-one discussions with my manager. This personal Kanban board is very simple, and it doesn't need a special tool. It manages your work in progress, help needed, and a backlog for conversations with your manager that can then be shaped with your team to elevate transparency in your daily standups or staff meetings so everyone can align on the work priorities. This may feel a bit elementary, but I have found this format has sharpened my conversations, not only with my manager, but with my own team. We're able to remove impediments quickly. It also helps drive the conversation when looking through work in progress, if there's a list of 20 things, is it realistic to have that many items in flight, or do we need to have a prioritization conversation to move things to the backlog that are not mission critical, or identified in your personal pie chart? This takes practice and discipline to see the fruits of your labor, but it will pay off.

Principle 3: Celebrate Continuous Learning

This leads me to my third and final takeaway, celebrate continuous learning, also known as plan to fail, then adjust. This is always the one where it's far easier said than done, when a failure results in a catastrophic issue that affects the team, customers, or bottom line. It is something that can be learned and trained for people, a team, and a company. It just takes a little elbow grease and a few folks who are bold enough to lead the charge. One of the less painful ways to get started is to build intentional retrospectives that take place on regular cadences. This method helps to break the ice on initiating continuous improvements, while also providing a framework that will speak to folks who need structure to see change. Start the conversation with identifying the current state. Where are we today, and where do we want to see opportunities in the future, or areas that can be done differently next time? By starting with whatever method best suits your team and organization, start to map out specific actions that will move you through the change to the future state or identified opportunities. I personally like to do this activity as a sticky storm discussion, either in-person or virtually.

A sticky storm allows for folks who need time to process information internally first before reacting, to have an equal voice to those who are more inclined to external processing, where they will share ideas out loud, quickly, and in rapid fire. You start the activity the first five minutes in total silence, where everyone is writing their thoughts on sticky notes. Then, the group places their sticky notes on the board. If done virtually, you can use virtual whiteboards like Miro to facilitate the discussion. Then, the facilitator of the meeting begins to group the similar concepts together for the team. Once the stickies are in groups, the facilitator has the team share their thoughts on themes that have been presented. This is the time to ask questions and ensure the team is on board with the improvement opportunity as something that can be actionable and should be prioritized.

The final step of this discussion is to take action. Make sure it is clear who and what is being done so that when you meet again, as this is now part of your regularly scheduled programming, you will evaluate the action and outcome from the previous meeting. If the action is successful, continue forward and refine as needed. If additional help is needed, or direction to find, do that and start the cycle again. You are now in a check and adjust cycle where you're able to provide incremental improvements and refine as you go. This will help flex the muscles in making adjustments to continually deliver value. It is really important that as you're doing this, to communicate the change. Always communicate. If you think you've shared enough, do it more. This is the time to overcommunicate and use these times to celebrate those small wins, so that when it comes time to tackle the big hairy issues that no one wants to claim, it will feel a little less like walking over a bed of hot coals and a little bit more like walking over hot sand.


In closing, I want to circle back to the list of three where we started the conversation. Make sure you start with your culture, and build your foundation around the people of your organization, that people centric approach. Then, make sure you're prioritizing and pacing yourself intentionally. Last, celebrate as you go. Make sure you're calling out and communicating with your teams. These items in concert together can lead to great leaders, teams, and organizations. I hope you found this discussion helpful for your own journey as you think about organizational flow and effectiveness. If you're interested in some of my own inspirations, here's a collage of several of the books I use personally, to provide insight and with my team as we worked on building our foundation together.

Cognitive Capacity, for Leaders and Teams

Actually, I just led a session with our senior leadership team, so the C-suite, about cognitive capacity, and what that means for teams. Starting with the team is very important. I know in this talk I started with how to do it personally. At QCon, I also received feedback that people were curious, what does it mean for teams? How do you think about that as a team? I want to make sure that, yes, you have to start with the leaders, you have to start with the notion of the team. There are ways to create really fantastic frameworks. We've actually launched several OKR work streams, specifically around building out prioritization frameworks and tools for managers. We have a ton of new managers, which is another layer on top of this, it makes it tricky. How do we help our managers understand that having conversations around capacity management is just as important to your team and people as it is to help them prioritize their work? I did want to make sure that I threw that out there that starting with leaders and teams, is that foundational first step.

Questions and Answers

Reisz: When you do this work prioritization, one of the challenges that I've always had with teams, and I'm having now with a client is unplanned work, is work that is not really scheduled. It's hidden in a lot of ways. It can often take a lot of what you're trying to put together with that pie, at least at the team level. How do you surface some of those things? How do you get the team to talk about it, to see it, to acknowledge the amount of unplanned work happening?

Tauscher: I've been on teams before where you plan for the unplanned. Planning a team's capacity to the 20, 82080 hours, you will fail. You will end up over capacity. One of the tools we have is we really started with, ok, when we think about the available capacity, you have to factor in time for people to have team building or getting to coffee chats. You have to then take that off the top, you skim it off the top. You have to say, how much time do we want to plan for all-hands meetings? How much time do we want to plan for whatever it is? You start skimming off the top so that your available capacity for planning work actually sits below 70% of available team capacity. What another team has done, and they're experimenting right now with this, is, how do you plan for the unplanned? Meaning, do we buffer 20% or 10% of our time for unplanned work, and be able to say no to something that comes in on top of that? I'm in retail, so holiday peak season, you can't say no to your consumers trying to get them their goods for the holidays, so it is a little bit tricky. I've buffered into my team 15% of time for unplanned work. If we end up with extra time, we're trying to do fun activities instead, of, how are we getting to know each other? How are we working on our team building and problem-solving skills together as a group?

Reisz: Is building psychological safety about team building, being intentional about that connection? What strategies do you have for truly building psychological safety on teams?

Tauscher: I was on the phone with our China team having this exact same conversation. We got surveys back from our Asia Pacific leadership team, very low psychological safety in comparison with some of the other regions. What we're doing is we are doing three specific actions. One is we're starting with our leadership team. Each of our senior leaders is coming out and recording a short video. We found them to be extremely effective. It's hard to get everybody on the phone at the same time. What these videos are talking about is, in your authentic words, what does psychological safety mean? Why it is important. How do I model it? That way, the message is starting from the top that this is important to us as a team, as a company, and as a business unit. That's one piece.

The other piece is we are doing a lot of foundational localized training, that was the other piece that we found a lot of psychological safety, if it's not localized to the market to have relevant examples, beyond just translated, it doesn't land and it is a little tone-deaf. That's another piece we're doing is making sure that the training itself and the foundation is highly localized to the relevant market. Then the other piece is we have a toolkit we're building. We're working with a partner company to build out a manager toolkit to make sure that we are really focusing our manager conversations with employees to build that psychologically safe environment, because most of our feedback was around making sure that managers are having appropriate, correct, and continuous conversations that are reinforced. It's all about just making sure that you open that dialogue, I think it's really important. A lot of people just do the training, your LinkedIn learning, and it's like, now we have a psychologically safe environment, but making sure that you're following up. We do what we call skip-level coffee chats, so that we can have our senior leaders have one-on-one or two-on-one time with people throughout the organization, in a very casual environment to really break down those barriers. We found that to be extremely successful.

Reisz: A lot of times when we talk about psychological safety, we have a definition in our heads that we all may have slightly different ones. For me, it's like bringing your authentic self and truly being who you are at work as you are at home. How do you describe, define psychological safety in the teams that you work with?

Tauscher: I really think it means being able to have a safe environment to have conversations, and being able to not only bring your whole self, I think that it's being able to think about what you want to do. How you bring not just your whole self, but let the door open to your colleagues so you can have relatable and conversational experiences. There's so much that we can learn from each other, beyond the textbook training, that is really important. Leading with empathy and vulnerability, I think goes hand in hand with psychological safety.

Reisz: There's a question here around people centric approach and rewards and recognition. Basically, there's blockers to some of the rewards and recognition that are out there. How do you reward, recognize, and incentivize innovative thinkers and takers in your company?

Tauscher: A lot of people think rewards and recognition really hits that bottom line, it's what's going to show up in my bank account and what's going to show up on my job title. We can promote everybody all the time, that's not always in the cards, nor is it appropriate. We have another work track again, we leverage a lot of OKRs, so objectives and key results that are led by teams themselves that support our talent strategy. What I mean by that, and why this will dovetail into this answer, is one of the pillars we have is around employee engagement, that's focused on recognition and rewards. That team that's actually led by peer groups, so people were able to nominate on, and are leader chosen or peer chosen and are actually helping build out different programs and piloting them. For an example, something that we use for rewards and recognition, it's as simple as in our quarterly all-hands, our senior leadership team is selecting folks that are nominated throughout the months, and calls them up on stage. We do it virtually, so it's like on our stage, kind of like this, and recognize a person, a team, or a cross-functional group that represents one of the Columbia Sportswear Company core competencies. We have five core competencies. They do a short video, and they let that team not only just have that spotlight for a minute, but also then talk about the work they're doing. Because a lot of times people want to be able to share their work and share why they should be recognized, with the rest of the organization. That has gone a really long ways, because we're opening up the doors and now somebody from logistics is talking to somebody that's in a regional demand planning role. They may never interact with each other, but they now have the stage, they're talking about the great work they're doing, they're being recognized. We have 2500 people in our supply chain. It's a great big audience, and it's really fun. Then you get a certificate you get to hang up on your desk or in your office or out on the distribution floor, whatever it is. It's the little things that we have found go quite a long ways. With that of a piece of paper or we have these little recognition coins that we hand out, and there's a plaque where you can collect all five coins. That's been really fun as well.

We also have a peer recognition program that we're piloting, where if I said, "Wes, you did so great. Thank you so much for helping me out the other day. You really went above and beyond. Here's 100 points." You can cash in those points for gift certificates to local restaurants, or maybe with enough points we're seeing like if we can get through HR to get a half day off or something like that. That's a fun way to recognize peer-to-peer. It's not costing a ton of money to the company, but it's allowing recognition beyond manager recognition. Really what that employee engagement group has found is that it doesn't have to be a manager saying, "My employee did this work." It can be, "My colleague did this great work."

Reisz: I like building them into those retrospectives as well, the after actions to be able to what are some callouts, and literally starting on that or ending on it, whatever it may be. Because that's always good to recognize people, at least on the teams.

What you described were high functional, very autonomous teams, teams that had a lot of personal autonomy. Columbia Sportswear is a big company. I guarantee you, you've gone to different units that maybe didn't have that autonomy. They were more of a top-down directed approach. What are some of your strategies on building in autonomy into teams, which is really underlying one of the first principles of some of the things that you were talking about?

Tauscher: I think words like autonomy, empowerment, enablement, are words that get used a lot without also using the word accountability. I had this same conversation with some of the leaders in our C-suite where even in our team, to your point, like we are able to really work autonomously, make a lot of decisions within ourselves. People still feel that, I want to be empowered to make my own decisions, I want to be empowered. I think that there's an importance to understand what that really means, is, in a very formal way of looking at either a RAPID or a RACI model, are you also accountable to the decision and the outcome? If the outcome is positive or negative, are you able to own that as an individual or as a team? In some environments, in a top-down directed place, or even like we're working on a project that has compliance and regulatory implications, we are not able to make a lot of our own decisions. Legal has to for us and direct a lot of what we're doing, and it may not feel really great. At the end of the day, I'm not accountable to the outcome of that. I have to stand there and tell my team, we need to be a team player in this situation, and understand who is accountable to what this will mean to our consumers, to our company, and to our employees. If you don't have that accountability piece, when you're looking at autonomy, and enablement, and empowerment, it is very difficult. If it's like, I think we can be accountable to the outcome, that's something we want to do, then you can build in that trust over time, as long as you're clear on those roles and responsibilities. I think a lot of people skip past that clarity step. Because, really, who likes doing a formal RACI or a formal RAPID, it's one of those exercises everyone churns through. By having formal role clarity and accountability, you're able to get that autonomy and empowerment.

Reisz: The one-page planner that you did, I really like that, particularly on an individual level, and then being able to take that and maybe surface that to a team so that way, as a team, you can have a collective understanding of what the team is working on. How do you take that from more of an organizational level, because in that particular regard, you're starting more of an individual to team? How do you do that? Do you just roll that up to an org level? What does that look like? How do you take it up to the next level?

Tauscher: I was trying to touch on that a little bit in the beginning of what I'm doing right now with our senior leadership team, is we are starting at the top. Part of our cognitive capacity conversation that we had is around three main pillars of, one, understanding what cognitive capacity means, making sure we had the same definition. Two is clarity to goals, and communication. Three is what I'm calling leadership modeling. That middle section right there, what you're talking about is, how do you roll it up to an organizational level? We always talk about goals being very grandiose, like, we want to have growth of double digits or something ridiculous, but there's not a way to look at what metric isn't moving, and what's the quarterly activation plan? What we're doing right now is taking the notion of, this is what we need for clear goals so that way we have the same, there's three buckets of goals, no more than that. Otherwise, people's brains start to explode. Delivering the business, activating new capabilities, and team and talent. Within that, when we have goal clarity, we will have a quarterly activation plan. That way, at a team level, we're going in and looking monthly, we've transitioned to the notion of a formal portfolio discussion, to look at one-pagers by goal that look very similar to my one-pager of this is the work that's in flight towards activating that goal. Here's what's at risk. Then here's the backlog. In the meeting, we allow ourselves only to talk about where the help needed, the risk or the blockers are, because everyone can read a status. Everyone can read an email. We don't need to take time in the meeting to talk about what is going well, or our status updates. Because the portfolio is so large that we don't have time, because we have 25 capabilities that we need to talk through. It's really helped transition the way the teams are working. That way, they're clear on what's our work, what's our help needed, and what's in our backlog. The notion of a groomed backlog has really helped, because every time someone's like, we need to do this, or the scope wasn't accurate, or we need to add this work. Add it to the backlog. If a leader comes in and says that's now a priority, we're able to clearly say, what of the work in flight is now not going to get done, because that capacity cutline isn't moving? We've been doing it for four, five months, and it's really hard because we're transitioning from what I call the and statement into the or statement. Instead of doing, we will do this, I want you to do this, and this, and this, because we could do this or this.

Reisz: That's so hard. I have a real struggle with senior leadership at the moment with someone I'm working with. It's definitely a hard thing to do.

You mentioned cognitive capacity, cognitive load. That's a big conversation today, particularly around team flow. Have you used Wardley maps, for example, to be able to talk about with development teams and frameworks and things that are custom built? How do you talk to teams' leadership about cognitive capacity, and minimizing that work in progress that you're doing? How do you talk to them about that? How do you get them to understand cognitive load and context switching?

Tauscher: Cognitive capacity to me means, do you have time to think? Can you think? Can you process? It's super interesting when you look at it conceptually. What we did is we did a couple exercises around effective time management, around awareness, arrangement, and adaptability, and then, on task prioritization. There's three ways that I do task prioritization, and I had the team run through a case study where it's drop, delegate, or redesign. They had to look at their calendar from Monday and say, what on this calendar, if we wanted to focus our time and our capacity down to 8 hours, because I know every senior leader works much more than that, what are you dropping, delegating, or redesigning? In a very, like 15-minute exercise, force them to have that conversation around, things were easier to drop than they were to delegate. Now we have to run another workshop next month on what it means to delegate and lead, because we're still working on the difference between leadership and management. Then, redesign is another opportunity. Because just because you're doing a task, doesn't mean it's the right task to do, so how do we look at transforming that task? It was a super interesting conversation. The ability to model this behavior is where we've seen the biggest challenges where leaders can stand up and say, we want to make sure people have good work-life balance. Then they're sending emails out at midnight, and people are like, "What in the world is happening? This isn't helping us." That's not helpful. When we say things like work-life balance, we're using diagrams to say, work-life balance to me might mean something different than what it means to you, and so, what does that mean to me? Setting clear personal boundaries is something we're trying instead of setting necessarily team boundaries, because you have to be in the office every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it's broad.

Reisz: It models the behavior. I like that drop, delegate, redesign. There's a book that I read last year, I was with VMware, and it was about looking at your calendar and things that you should say no to so you could do more by doing less. I like your model a little bit better.


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Recorded at:

Oct 17, 2023