The secrets of productive people

I see that  FastCompany has one of their exec lists out.  I’m sure that these lists are rubbish, but they can be hilarious, imagine doing all of the things on the list in the belief that they will make your more productive. So here’s the latest list.   I particularly hate the idea only travelling with your sports gear on business trips and having your business attire posted by FedEx.   This one falls foul of my rule #2, never be separated from your kit.

Full-time work – it’s over rated

Full-time work is overrated!  It’s also a recent thing.   It arrived with the industrial revolution, and it will leave hand in hand with one of the many trends weathering the way we work today.

Dan Rasmus looks at these trends in his book Listening to the Future published in 2007, he identified the trends as:

  • One World of business
  • Always on always connected
  • Transparent Organisations
  • Workforce Evolution

By looking back at a book written ten years ago, we can get a sense of its insight.   If you’re in the UK, it predicts and explains, the rise of Amazon, Brexit, the advertising domination of social media, WikiLeaks and millennials in the workforce.

But most of all it predicts the way work has changed from full-time jobs for life into a spectrum of work from the precarious to the fully employed.  The balance of that spectrum for many is heading towards low paid, zero time contracts that define poor job quality.   For a few, it’s the sunlit uplands of work anywhere when they want, and for significant reward.

The leadership challenge of the next ten years to manage the quality of that spectrum of work and make sure that work has an innate quality and provides a respectful and decent living for all.   And the one way to begin redressing the balance is to pay the National Living Wage.



Search curation delivers better results

Everything is on the Internet, and that’s the problem. Because everything is there, it makes the one thing you’re looking for hard to find.    It’s somewhat easier if you’re looking for a particular item that’s a paid for business service. Flights and hotels bookings are pretty straightforward and we could all find a flight from London to Paris. However, despite the simplicity of this search, there are numerous aggregators of services. Some show all of the flights, others all of the hotels. Some put both together.

But the sites that attract most views are those that curate the search experience. These sites ask for or understand our requirements. They answer questions like Winter Sun or Short City Breaks.

This is not a common approach in local government, perhaps this is the next area where curation might help the someone find the things they need. A citizen might need to view all the local government services for a family living in a house, or services for a single person living on their own in a flat. This curation should aim to make sure that citizens understand what is available to them.

For older people, this is even more important. Services should be simple to find and in one place, curated for need and provide access to health, social care, voluntary and commercial provision.   They need to be appropriately segmented to keep things simple.  There are plenty of designs for that.  “people that booked A also booked B.”

Should local government only choose to provide answers to citizens needs from their own resources they will fail to access the less costly and sometimes more effective voluntary and commercial services. At BriteLives that’s our mission, put all the services in one place and make them easy to find and book.

Hello, we’ve had an idea that may change the way older people access local services. It stems from the challenges I faced caring for my Mother, but I guess you may have spotted that.   We  have been at it for eight weeks now and we have learnt a thing or two.

Lesson 1:   Read The Lean Startup and once you have done that, read it again.  It’s not about Startups it’s about constant innovation.  It will save you time and more importantly money.

Lesson 2: Work out, as concisely as possible, how to describe your idea.

We started with:

The leading marketplace to make the provision of personal, household and community services easier and more accessible, helping older people and their families live happier and more connected lives“.

We are now: is the place where you can find and review local and personal services for older people.

Cutting out those words was a great deal harder than writing them in the first place.

Pitch it to friends and to yourself.  Make sure you do it slowly, accent the name of the Business. Something like:  (pause) is the place where you can find  and review (pause) local and personal services (pause) for older people.

Lesson 3:  Join an innovation accelerator.  You may be sceptical about the value, don’t be. You can’t think of everything, so let someone else force you to think about the relevant things and set some deadlines for you. It will accelerate the development of the idea more than you could imagine.  We are part of BGV and wow what a difference they have made already.

Quick Test: Can you guess what does?




Role of Friends and Family

This third blog highlights the things I learnt looking after my Mother during the last few years of her life.

Friends and Family

I thought I was alone in sorting out the increasing complexities of my Mother’s life. Focusing entirely on the needs of my Mother meant that I forgot that she had a loyal and capable group of friends. They had been helping her with all sorts of tasks and running errands for her for years, and I needed to include them in my plans and activities.

Neighbours and their role

Neighbours are as worried as you are. They can often see what you can’t see, the gentle deterioration of Mum’s general health, that fact that she was getting out less and less. I quickly found that neighbours were a great source of information, support and help, I always made sure I dropped in on at least one of them each time I visited Mum. If they had helped in some specific way that week, I might take flowers or a bottle of wine, to thank them for their help. I felt that the key was to reach out early and tell them what was going on.

Is there a Doctor in the Family?

If you’re very lucky, you may have a healthcare professional in your family. I have a relative that had been a GP; he understood ageing and the likely issues my Mother would face. I found that if I carefully noted my Mother’s symptoms and relayed them to him, I could get an understanding of what might be the issue. I cannot tell you why, but when Mum had a urinary tract infection, she would quickly become confused and paranoid. Now some reading this will know the reason, but at no time did any of the healthcare professionals working with us made such a connection. They all seemed too busy and too hurried to encourage our involvement in my Mother’s care. (see my earlier blog about decision making).

Access and Security

On a couple of occasions, someone wanted access to the house. If the key holding neighbour was away, then this could be an issue. I bought a LockMaster key safe and screwed it to the door frame and put my mobile number on it. Then should someone need access I could tell them the code and they could get the key? It meant that neighbours knew they would not have to force entry. Later I learnt that this was a very useful thing, and although no one said it at the time neighbours were worried what would happen if they had to get access quickly, the key safe removed their anxiety.

Top Tips

    • Tell friends and neighbours what is going on as early as possible.
    • Ask neighbours what has been happening, they will be happy to update you.
    • Find someone you can discuss medical issues.
    • Thank neighbours early and often.
    • Use a key safe for house keys.