Have you ever seen a woodchopper running around in a forest trying to chop ten trees simultaneously?
Imagine the scene.
Every time he gets to a tree, he chops at it a few times, and then he goes on to the next tree. After some considerable time running around, all ten trees are still standing, and the woodchopper is worn-out and on his last legs.
Frustrated about all the effort he has made with little to no impact.
I’ve never seen a woodchopper working like this. We have a lovely forest behind our house, and every spring, a person inspects all the healthy trees, takes care of all the fallen and dead trees, and maintains the forest’s condition.
When I see him, I notice that he’s going at it one tree at a time.
Please don’t be mad at me that I am writing this. With all respect for the woodchopper profession and the work these people are doing, I do not consider professional woodchoppers the people with the highest IQ.
I’m sure there are some incredibly smart woodchoppers, and I also know a CEO who is a woodchopper in his free time, turning the wood into dining tables, but overall I believe my statement is true.
Woodchoppers know what they’re doing.
Therefore, non of them would start chopping trees and cutting them simultaneously.
If you asked any woodchopper to consider doing his (it’s primarily a male population) work by chopping trees simultaneously, he would look at you with a look like you just fell out of one of his trees.
I think you know where I’m going.
When it comes to our work, we often engage in multiple activities simultaneously.
We keep telling ourselves that this is perfectly possible, without a loss in productivity and with the same level of quality as a result.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Stuff gets done one task at a time.
I can imagine that this is all logical to you, and other than sharing a lighthearted story about a woodchopper, you’re not getting much from this.
I’m happy you’re living a life without any distractions. Every task gets your full and undivided attention without beeps, peeps, bleeps, flashes, or addicted pulls from devices like smartphones trying to take you away from chopping your trees.
I trust you hear a little cynicism in my (writing) voice.
Anyways. Not everyone is like you, and many people multitask and live a distracted life.
They’re chopping multiple trees simultaneously, never see the impact of what they are doing as visible as those trees still standing, and keep telling themselves they’re productive.
What’s even worse, and here’s my point at the end of this insight, teams, and companies work the same way.
Many try to chop even more than 100 trees at the same time. And I don’t mean the usual daily tasks here. I’m talking about projects that impact the future of the company.
They work this way because they have the people for it to do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient way to get those 100 trees chopped.
Yes, you can execute priorities simultaneously with a team of people.
But only if the direction is clear, priorities are clear and in order, capabilities are complementary, people enjoy teamwork, processes are understood and aligned, politics are left at the door, and silos do not exist.
That’s a lot of buts.
Very few companies tick all the boxes. But, if that’s you and your team, enjoy it, and please let me know. I’d like to learn.
Your turn: how many trees do you chop at the same time?
Do more of what makes you happy!
What are you waiting for?
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