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Time to get rid of the Zombies!

We've hit the final quarter of the calendar year, and now is probably a good time to talk about the very best place you can spend a bit of your time. Yes, you need to keep delivering for your clients and finding more and taking care of day-to-day business, but you also need to take a step back and get rid of some zombies!

Every organisation has them, idea's, projects, meetings, and reports that have been around since the dawn of the organisation (or someone else's). These are things that you thought were dead and buried but somehow keep getting reanimated and brought back, sometimes exactly as they were when they died or slightly disguised to sound like something new. Either way, you know that these things have no place in your organisation, and it's time to get rid of them.

Identifying a Zombie

Finding and identifying your zombies isn't hard, if we said just close your eyes and think of all the ideas, projects, tasks, reports, meetings that just hoover up time for very little, if any, real benefit to the team or organisation in general you would quickly have an impressive list. Now think of the things that you know you have heard before and tried before but really, it's just been dressed up in a new set of rags. Finally, think of all the meetings that you attend that have no agenda, no minutes and no follow-up actions or the actions never get done and seem to have no consequence.

Now you have your list of potential zombies, things that you need to get rid of if you are going to succeed long term and become way more productive. Now all you must do is test them out, unfortunately, unlike zombies in a movie your zombies aren't always going to be visually easy to spot but luckily there is a really simple test you can do to confirm if it really is something that no longer benefits your team, improves your productivity or delivers to your organisation's bottom line.

Unless you are answering absolutely to all the questions, you have an issue on your hands you need to fix, quickly.

If you are answering No to all or most of them, then this is a zombie, and it's time to genuinely get rid of it. If you are answering possibly then you may well have a zombie on your hands, you just don't realise it, it's time to really give it a prod and ask the hard questions or the rest of the leadership team. You need to get to an "Absolutely" for every question in order o have complete clarity about why you are doing something, if it's murky for you then it's murky for the whole organisation, and you are going to have misalignment and poor productivity linked to the item.

Getting rid of a zombie

One of the hardest things is to genuinely get rid of the zombie, especially if it's someone's pet idea or meeting or project. The very best way you can do it is to be 100% factual about it, if it doesn't align with what you are trying to do strategically it can't stay, if it doesn't engage your people or your customers then it can't stay. That's a non-emotional conversation to have, and you need to have it. The other element to consider is all the time you are spending on this zombie you aren't spending it on something that does move you in the right direction, so ask what else the person could be doing with their time if they had it.  

What about Possibly?

When you have things that are hovering around the "Possibly" column, as it well it could be a zombie, but you could argue that some of our customers like it and would be advocates for it is we asked them, or it could energise our people if we changed this then start making a list of the changes you would need to make for this to move from possibly to absolutely.

Once you have your list of actions, don't dive in and start doing them! Step back and ask yourself, how much investment in time and effort is it going to take to move from possibly to absolutely, and if I do that investment is the result worth it, is there a real payback? If you can't get an absolute yes, then perhaps this is not something you want to do. If you do get an easy yes then, well, it's an easy yes, go do those actions.

The benefits of removing zombies

If you haven't picked it up already the benefits of this exercise are simple, it's going to free up time that is getting sucked into keeping these things going, it's going to improve your alignment and clarity within the organisation, and it's going to help you energise your people (because they aren't working on zombies) all of which results in more productivity.

Isn't it time to ask yourself, are brave enough to face your zombies?

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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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