September 21, 2008

Bulk view

We’re adopting a cat!

W- and I are adopting a cat from the Toronto Animal Services shelter. Leia’s a medium-ish-haired black-and-white cat who’s somewhat shy. We’re going to bring her home on Wednesday, after she gets spayed, and we’ll take care of post-operative care.

It was so difficult to choose. I wanted to take them all! After we spent almost an entire afternoon looking at and playing with the various cats, we narrowed it down to a handful – all female cats around two years of age. Iggy was a brown-and-white tabby who purred constantly and loved rubbing her head against you. Sasha was a quiet cat with a classic tabby coat. Leia, the one we eventually chose, was a bit reserved, but used such a variety of sounds: high meows, soft mews, and chirps. And Angel, well, Angel was insane. ;) (Well, probably not clinically insane, but getting there!)

We ended up choosing Leia because she felt like the best fit. I joked that she’s probably like W- and me in cat form: fairly low-key (well, I’m like that when I’m not excited about something ;) ), with a slight build (some cats were huge!), and with a pretty big vocabulary we’re not afraid to use. ;)

I’ll post more pictures when we have her!

The way I work

I’m giving a presentation on what next generation work can look like for my company, and I need to figure out just what’s different about the way I work compared to the way other people might work. This is difficult because, well, this is the only way I’ve ever worked in IBM! ;) So here are some of the things about the way I work…

  • I share my notes while I learn. I’m learning a lot at work, and I make sure I spend some time every day writing down what I’ve learned. This helps me understand and remember more. The key difference, though, is that I share my notes on my blog. This means that people can chime in with suggestions (almost always happen!) and learn from me as well. It also means that people can come across my posts in search engines. If it takes me fifteen extra minutes to write something up, and I save three people an hour’s worth of fiddling with things each… that’s a pretty good return on investment.
  • I move as much information out of my inbox as possible. Mail is not the best tool for organizing task-related information. I usually use Lotus Connections Activities to group task-related information. It’s also terrific for collaboration. I can see people’s updates and share resources without sending lots of e-mail around.
  • I create templates for things I often do. For example, I have a detailed activity template for preparing presentations. This checklist reminds me to take care of important steps, such as double-checking the teleconference information, packing my presenter remote, and so on. I’ve also added links to my favorite resources and shared this template publicly within the company, so anyone can use my template to plan a presentation. By doing this, I help share my processes with other people.
  • I make it easy for people to get to know me. I often share snippets of myself within the company. I talk about what I’m passionate about and what I don’t enjoy. I show people what I’m excited about. I share my hopes and my concerns. Because of this, people have told me that they feel they know me pretty well even if they’ve never quite met me, and they feel comfortable starting a conversation with me. Because people know what I’m interested in and they’ve come to think of me as a friend, they send me all sorts of opportunities that fit what I’m passionate about. Most of the opportunities I’ve received have come through my social network instead of from my manager. My manager helps me go after the opportunities, but it’s my network that lets me find out about them.
  • I stay connected inside and outside the company. People really make a difference for me. I enjoy knowing and getting to know so many wonderful people within the company, and I love how I can reach out, learn more about them, and even help them out. Because IBM has such a big ecosystem, it’s much too easy to go into heads-down mode and forget about the outside. My blog, the blogs I read, and the other communities I participate in all help me keep in touch with what’s going on in the outside world. For example, I really enjoy browsing through the presentations on SlideShare – it’s great to see what people are talking about and how they’re communicating it.
  • I build other people up. If I do something by myself, that’s okay. If I can involve other people and spread the opportunities and growth, that’s much, much better. That’s why I help other people and communities learn about tools and ways of doing things, and that’s why I enjoy giving presentations and writing articles. I can get a lot more leverage on my time than I would if I were working alone, and I can connect with people who are talented at different things.
  • I invest time in learning. I work at about 80% of my capacity so that I can spend the rest of the time on increasing that capacity in myself and in others. I don’t have a fixed schedule or time budget (nothing like “one and a half hours each day” or “every Friday”), but I give myself leeway to explore things, and I make sure I learn about something different every week or so. I’m always looking for better ways to do things, and I share those ways with others. (Kaizen! Relentless improvement!) I also often find that the random things I learn about that don’t seem to have any connection to my current work end up making a difference somewhere.
  • I get great leverage on my time. I’m comfortable speaking to or writing for hundreds of people. It takes me a few extra minutes to share a bookmark, copy a good answer to my blog, post a recording of my presentations, or share a file on our internal file sharing system. In return, I get to reach a wider audience and I can save more people more time. I also save myself time when I can find these resources instead of doing things all over again! This is the way I get leverage on my time. I turn my services into products that people can use again and again.
  • I follow my passion. I keep figuring out that intersection between my passions, my skills, and what my company and the world needs, and then I go ahead and do it. If I’m providing enough value (and it seems I am!), then people will help me figure out how to do even better. =)
  • Work/life balance is non-negotiable for me. I do my best work when I’m happy, and doing my best work makes me even happier. Balance is a dynamic thing, and I enjoy listening and figuring out what I want to do. I don’t see it as a win-lose trade-off, either. I firmly believe that I can be happy with both my professional life and my personal life, and I refuse to accept anything less. I know that it’s much too easy for me to focus on work (it’s fun to make things and make things happen!), so I make sure I explore other things as well. This is also the reason why I enjoy being frugal – it gives me the space to enjoy the balance I want.

(braindumping for an upcoming presentation!)