Mining for gold: shared visions, time management and value streaming

Steven Senior and Sarah Askari have been comparing notes… Once again they have flushed out some useful insights into how we can all be better and more productive people

How do we focus ourselves and our time to ensure we value stream every activity back into the business plan?

One of the traits that my colleagues frequently remind me of is that, as a leader, I’ll often set up a meeting only to cancel it at the last minute. Sound familiar?

I used to believe that I was either poor at time management or that I had simply lost interest in a subject that seemed to be a good idea at the start. I later realised I’d been fortunate enough to spend most of my career in a leadership position, which gave me the ability to determine the agenda. Consequently, the reason I would cancel meetings was simply because I was busy channelling a multitude of ideas before filtering down the quality of each one as time moved on.

I learnt that I was actually very good at ‘mining for gold’. For fear of running out of time to push every single idea forward, I just kept pushing new ideas, filtering out the gold and deciding what would fit into my schedule.

I’m sure this would have been highly frustrating for my colleagues and appeared chaotic at best. In my mind, however, everything had the potential to be shiny and the most adroit members of my team seemed happy to humour me and catch the spinning plates as they fell.

I remember that the team members who progressed and prospered using this process shared the same vision of the ‘gold’. It would surround the pillars of a progressive company strategy. It was about new products, new marketing levers to pull, better brand ideas, photographing everything and new business ideas. This process has the power to challenge many people.

Some managers concentrate on people management and some focus on process management. There is a fundamental difference. I firmly believe the processes we manage are the important ingredients. Add enough energy, leadership, enthusiasm and inspiration to the mix and the team that can get these processes moving will manage themselves. They’ll prosper because they want to be along for the exciting ride they know they’ll take with that leader.

So, how do you balance time, focus and energy to value stream and find the gold?

The key is not waste your time on ideas that you realise halfway through won’t work for whatever reason. Whether it’s because you don’t want to lose face or are too stubborn to admit that maybe this isn’t the right direction, be open to the notion that your idea may need adapting and developing as time passes. Listen to others’ views on how your idea could be improved.

Even as the leader of a team or company, it’s important to understand that you don’t have all the answers. It’s about putting egos aside and being vulnerable. Putting your ideas out there and seeing which ones work. Some will fail.

As a leader and the person setting the agenda, it’s still imperative to listen to your team. Work on creating a company culture that’s a safe space where your team feels comfortable bouncing ideas off each other. You never know where these creative conversations can take you.

The truth is we’re always so busy with packed agendas, mountains of work and back-to-back Teams calls, yet prioritising our work is what’s key. Knowing what will yield the best results and is the best use of the time we have is how we can be successful in business.

The mission is to be as creative as possible, collaborate as much as you can and keep pushing new ideas forward. Be innovative. Think outside the box. The companies that fail are those that stand still, thinking they’ve made it. It’s always about doing more and being more.

Good time management is critical to knowing where to put your focus and energy. We can’t do it all. To assume you do leaves you vulnerable to burnout. Successful leaders will surround themselves with passionate, creative and hardworking individuals who, like you, want to seek out the very best ideas and find the gold.

If you’d like to find out more about channelling your time, focus, energy and vision to find your gold, get in touch at

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