• If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.


No announcement yet.

Can everyone be a black belt?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Can everyone be a black belt?

    According to belt descriptions I'm a black belt, entering 2nd degree. BUT, here's my dilemna...

    I'm CEO of a small company of 3 people and I have been training my co-workers with GTD over the past 4 months. I've sold them on the GTD concepts, they've read the books, listened to the CD's, implemented the project lists/NAs, AND we even do our weekly reviews together. GTD has significantly boosted our productivity. However, I've noticed that my co-workers have various levels of how comfortable they are with GTD. They are brown belt (if I use the belt descriptions). SHOULD I EXPECT THAT THEY SHOULD BECOME BLACKBELTS? Or is that too high of an expectation?

    Part of me believes so much in GTD that I think everyone can become black belt, and that everyone under me in my company should be black belt (or at least in the process of becoming one). But what if I run into resistance? Can a company of 100 people really have all blackbelts or blackbelts-in-process? Or is it not worth the fight?

    Does anyone have experience in leading a company w/GTD expected from all employees? How does it work out?

  • #2
    Thanks, Coz. Good points. I do agree most of it has to do with results. But the GTD philosphy as it crux does seem to employ the most basic principles of results: namely, 1) get everything out of your head, 2) trust a trusted system. I'm wondering if someone can really be highly productive without those two principles at work.

    I would definitely not want to shove my management "style" on others. By the way, I think GTD can be implemented in very different ways by different personalities. Creative/spontaneous folks can do it without managing tons of "lists." They can do their weekly review and schedule their schedules very loosely. But nevertheless, it seems like they'd need a trusted system as well.

    Maybe I'll ask my question the other way: As a CEO, how can I ensure results at the highest level in my company without enforcing some kind of GTD system?

    It seems like I could:
    1. demand results from a results point-of-view. Ie., give incentives, goals, etc. But this seems too external and limited in potential.
    2. teach, train and enforce GTD... so that people can naturally be productive and produce results. This seems to be raising up productive people... vs. just results.

    or maybe I'm just way too GTD'ed out?


    • #3
      If it were my company, I would use a two-pronged approach:

      1. Measure and reward people based on results. Set clear objectives, define the performance you want, and all that other stuff.

      2. Evangelize GTD as the way that you personally achieve results. Make GTD training available, use GTD-compatible tools as the company standard, etc.

      I would not, in any way shape or form, attempt to "enforce" GTD behavior. The problem isn't whether people can become black belts or not, the problem is that the system someone uses to get their work done is fundamentally a very personal matter. As this forum shows, different people implement GTD in vastly different ways. How do you decide whether a particular approach is "acceptable" except by measuring the results? If an excellent performer is using a system that appears to you to be "all wrong," do you really want to pressure them to change? Even if GTD seems to you to be the best way to achieve one's potential, remember that millions of very successful people don't use it and get along just fine.

      More generally, why would you want to reward people based on anything other than their contribution to the company's success? Haven't you got anything better to do than watch people process their inboxes?

      Sorry for the rant, but one of my biggest beefs with Corporate America is the tendency to emphasize appearance over performance.



      • #4
        I can sympathize. I just finally got my secretary to keep a calendar with all her date and time sensitive information in one place. That was a major hurdle. Now on to the next step, getting her to look at my calendar from time to time.

        I'll answer your question with another question. You want to improve your employees' level of GTD expertise? What's the next action?


        • #5
          Originally posted by outlawyr
          I can sympathize. I just finally got my secretary to keep a calendar with all her date and time sensitive information in one place. That was a major hurdle. Now on to the next step, getting her to look at my calendar from time to time.

          I'll answer your question with another question. You want to improve your employees' level of GTD expertise? What's the next action?
          Hey, be glad for your successes. In my small office, one of our major clients just moved. We got a new address list with a new physical address, main number, main fax, direct phone, direct fax, and email addresses for its 100 or so people that we communicate with most often. People are still trying to figure out if we've changed their contact information in every location that we might have kept it. I asked a couple of people why we don't have a single, central firm contacts solution, so we can make changes once and always have confidence that our info is correct. I got a string of quizzical looks. Sigh.

          To respond to the original poster, I'm not sure you can or want to impose your flavor of GTD on everyone you work with. It's far more effective if the overarching concepts are conveyed and adopted by your staff. These include: keeping agreements we make with others; openly communicating with others; making sure we're the most efficient we can be; making decisions on the front end; and others. Look at the David Allen Company Principles for more guidance.

          Jason Womack told a story in this thread about what David Allen expects from people in his own company in terms of GTD:

          It's about managing and keeping agreements. That's something that you can expect from people. If they're not doing it, you can point out how they're not, and what you think they can do to improve.

          Finally, if you convey the broader needs and expectations rather than the nuts and bolts and mechanics of you you think something should be done, people might surprise you. About a year ago, I was pestering my secretary daily to find out if we got back confirmations from our process server that things had been filed, and how we would know if one didn't come back. (I've shared some aspects of GTD with her and with others in my office, but I still appear to be the only person who realizes the potential.) She thought about it, and on her own came up with what amounted to a Waiting-For list of those specific things. She'd note each thing that had been sent out for service, and knock it off her list when we got the confirmation back. Also on her own, she decided that once a week she'd check it and follow up with our process server on things for which we hadn't received back a confirmation. I couldn't have been happier.

          Here's one last thread that discusses how to encourage people you work with to move toward a GTD-style of working:


          • #6
            can everyone learn GTD

            I am very motivated, initiated my own learning of the system but I have had a heck of a time learning GTD, even with personal coaching. So, some people learn some things slowly. This is not lack of intelligence in my part (I have a Ph.D.!).I have stuck with it because I can foresee the benefits on a longterm basis.

            I would learn faster if:

            I was in an environment in which it was used by others who talked about it and modelled the process.

            If I was more tech-exprienced.

            Had a less complex life.

            If I was walked through the steps carefully.

            I might learn slower if:

            I felt someone one was making me learn it for his or her own benefit and not mine.

            Most of the time when people "teach" all they do is expose someone to something. That is a good start but involvement and repeated passes through each application is better.

            If you have weekly meetings in which you can work on the GTD method I would suggest that you adopt a cycling process--each week a different element and then circle back and revisit. Maybe make these an optional before or after working hours training session.

            You could also periodically ask your employees for things like:

            Your current project list.

            You list of N/As in a certain context.

            If your employees have job descriptions you might include a section that states something like:

            "will maintain an update list of projects using outcome terminology and provide brief statement of status weekly"

            or "will implement a workflow system that can be audited and used as basis for a status report on short notice".

            Some small companies host ToastMasters at lunch, or before or after work and these are open to anyone in the community. Maybe you could have an on-going GTD support group?


            • #7
              Have you read 'E-Myth Revisted' or 'E-Myth Mastery' by Michael Gerber? It's a must read for people like you - a CEO of a small company.

              The book talks all about creating systems - and you could easily work GTD into the systems you create.

              You really need to read the book to understand how profound these concepts are, and how they can help you with this.

              In fact, you could probably create a black belt system so that the employees just need to follow the system, and the system takes care of the GTD stuff.

              Sorry I couldn't explain it better - please get the book!



              • #8
                New GTD Product idea?

                Jamie, I understand where you are coming from. And, I think David has room for a new product. I think a video training format where a person is "followed" as he implements GTD concepts would be excellent. It would include voice overs for the "thinking" that the subject would do as he/she processed things on the front end, decided Next Actions, and worked by context. It would include pause points for instruction in each of the five stages, and then a clip showing that in action in "real life." This kind of a training tool could "walk" a person through the GTD concepts as laid out in the book, in a visual way. You could develop it further and break it up into a series of lessons dealing with do/delegate/defer or meeting processing or project planning, all built on the foundation of the five-step process.

                I know such a tool would have helped me a lot in the beginning. My guess is that it would be particularly useful to introduce the concepts in a High School or College situation, or for small group training. I would personally use such a tool for refreshment and motivation on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this kind of product is usually sold at "corporate" prices. Anyone else think this would have been helpful?