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Implementing GTD in a company

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  • Implementing GTD in a company


    Iīm about to start a training job in the company I work for, and my biggest dream (outcome visioning ;o) would be to train and coach everybody on GTD, so we get a real GTD culture, where people either follow through on their commitments or renegotiate them. However, I have 2 questions about this:

    1. How far do you need to be in GTD yourself in order to train and coach others? On one hand, I believe in leading by example, which means you have to master GTD yourself before training others. On the other hand, thereīs something to be said for sharing your enthusiasm asap and making the journey together (sharing is the fastest way to learn, according to DA).

    2. How do you go about implementing GTD in groups, whether itīs a team, a department, a division or a whole company? I have not been able to find any information on this and it would be a great topic for DAīs next book ;o)

    Look forward to your replies!

    Best regards,

  • #2

    To get any company to embrace a change, you need a bottom-up approach. Start using it yourself, and create small opportunities for others to interact with your system. (Perhaps posting a non-threatening @WaitingOn list [this can be dangerous!], or sending @WaitingOn reminder emails regularly every Monday to people you're waiting on something from, or designating a public Inbox for others to drop notes/memos into.)

    Enthusiasm, while well-intentioned, can be mistaken for pushiness. It's a very fine line, and one I'm still walking after being an efficiency consultant for seven years. I suggest finding small areas where GTD-like improvements can be made and felt throughout the company, and letting it grow gradually from there. The worst thing you can do is bring it up in a meeting or buy everyone the book; I've never, ever seen that work successfully.


    • #3

      Thanks for your quick reply! Shame though, because it sounds like a slooow process. In fact, I was even going to buy everybody the book! Is there anyone out there who HAS seen a more "big bang" approach work, or do you all agree with Marina that a very incremental approach is the only way to go?



      • #4
        For someone to pick up GTD, firstly they should feel that they need a better workflow, and secondly that the workflow is something that is not born with people but can be learned.

        Most people seem to think that if they are overwhelmed, then the world is at a fault. Others tend to think that being organized is not something they can do, it's for other people.

        So saying "here are some cool ways how I stay on top" almost always looks like a propoganda. Even if you demonstrate it yourself, you may get a reaction like "he is a born organizer, I am not".

        Very small fraction of people will pick up GTD for themselves. Openness, seeing a chance for improvement, and willing to make major habit changes are major requirements.

        Perhaps a better outcome to be expected, if you are in-charge of a group, is that people keep track of their commitments and not let things fall through cracks. If they ask for assistance, you can say "here are some cool ways how I stay on top"!

        Further, it's a personal choice of how one manages their work. If I remember right, David Allen says somewhere that even in his company they don't ask people to necessarily follow GTD; It's just that they require that things should not fall through cracks.

        Given all this, I still take opportunities to tell people about GTD!



        • #5
          Thanks Abhay!


          • #6
            You can't force change on others. They must feel within themselves the need for change.

            I'm reminded of a book club I started at work years ago. We actually read Getting Things Done at one point. Nobody else in the group was interested in the framework; they didn't change a bit.

            Is anyone on your team interested in improving their productivity? If so, share the book and talk about your experiences. If not, I wouldn't expend your energy on them.


            • #7

              As it happens, just today, one of my fellow managers asked me about the GTD posters hanging next to my desk, and when I explained them to him, he was very enthusiastic, for himself as well as his team. So there are interested people out there, although it may not be everybody and they may not be as fanatic about it as I am (yet) ;o).

              Iīm thinking of buying the book for the managers, but purely leaving it up to them (a) whether they read it, and if so, (b) whether they want to do anything with it afterwards.

              Alternatively, I could even send an email with a short explanation and ask them who would be interested in a copy of the book "no strings attached". Or is this still too pushy?

              Last edited by maarten1; 08-24-2009, 12:05 PM.


              • #8
                Buy a few copies and leave a stack on your desk. Honestly, you'll have the most success if you let others discover and ask on their own (thinking it's their idea) instead of suggesting it outright.

                I know firsthand how excited you are and how amazing it seems it would be if the entire office adopted GTD, but getting others to share your enthusiasm will be a lot harder than it seems. Move slowly.


                • #9
                  Good idea! Iīll go for that and keep you posted ;o)


                  • #10
                    Speaking as an individual, it's a huge process. I've been doing this on my own (since I'm currently unemployed with too much time on my hand) and it's quite overwhelming. And easy to backslide (especially when you don't have a set daily routine where you need to do stuff that affects the company's bottom line).

                    People are going to be nervous because they will subconsciously be wondering if their failure to get on the GTD bandwagon, especially if the boss is gung-ho, will result them in not getting promoted, not getting plum job assignments, getting lower salary, even layoffs and getting fired. So, it's best to go slow and do this in an incremental process.

                    How about setting up study groups that meet during lunch, once every two or two weeks, where you discuss the GTD book, chapter by chapter? And throughout the week, share tips with each other on how you've implemented that chapter in your daily work life (and perhaps even home life, especially if it results in you getting work on time, with preparatory work having been completed the night before and being ready for that 8am meeting)? If you can, set up an internal email list that anyone can subscribe to (this may be useful for getting people who are nervous about attending the study group - "gee, what are they going to think about my messy desk???" - to gingerly step their toes into GTD).


                    • #11
                      Let them ASK for GTD

                      We are a small team of three, and I would like to tell about GTD to my new colleague (the boss will never get it, so I donīt even try ) but I decided not to push things.

                      When he first started with us about two months ago, I helped him set up his desk in a GTDesque manner: in box, to-do-tray/folder, trays/e-mail folders for @agenda stuff for me and the boss, read and review and waiting for. I try to use GTD language (whatīs next, whatīs the outcome...) and I follow-up with my waiting fors with him so that things donīt fall through cracks.

                      This morning I came to the office and he didnīt even take the time to say good morning to me, the first greeting was: "I want THAT DIAGRAM! I have discovered your secret! I want you to translate it right now!"

                      He had seen the work flow diagram on my wall and actually started reading it even if his English is not very fluent. Now I had a good chance to really get into explaining what "successful outcome" and "next action" means in GTD terms and what else GTD is about. We had a really fun morning with this and Iīm sure this worked much better than pushing it on the first week he came to the office.

                      I guess now would be the time to order a Spanish copy of the book.


                      • #12

                        Thanks to all of you for contributing! Iīve decided to get a few copies of the book (in different languages, because itīs an international environment and many people like to read in their own language), display them in a visible spot next to my desk and lend them to the managers who are interested, so they still have the idea they took the initiative themselves.

                        Once a few guys have read it, I will ask them if they want to get together some time, so see if thereīs enough interest to pursue GTD together. If there is, great, then we get the situation Fyer is in. If not, I guess I will have to show people one by one, by continuing to implement it myself and show them the benefits. Either way, Iīll keep you posted.


                        PS Just read the first 4 chapters of Making it All Work and, once again, Iīm impressed!


                        • #13
                          Too pushy?!?

                          Originally posted by maarten1 View Post
                          Or is this still too pushy?
                          I think it still too pushy.
                          If they are really interested like your manager they can buy it!
                          I think this purchase - on their own - would demonstrate they are really interested.
                          Would you think that if David would distribute a free sample of the book all over the world, the human beings would be more organized?


                          • #14
                            sending @WaitingOn reminder emails regularly

                            Originally posted by MarinaMartin View Post
                            or sending @WaitingOn reminder emails regularly every Monday to people you're waiting on something from, or designating a public Inbox for others to drop notes/memos into.)
                            1. sending @WaitingOn reminder emails regularly
                            2. designating pubic inbox for others

                            Is it a frequent technique? Successful?

                            and could you please describe more in deep what do you mean for a public inbox for others? I cannot yet visualize it!