Simon says, “Deal with problems before they become crises.”
You already know Simon has an organized mind and an uncanny ability to see problems before they are problems, opportunities before anyone else knows an opportunity is at hand. There is a value-added benefit of having Simon as your leader you may not know about, though. Simon deals with problems and issues as soon as he becomes aware of them. It is part of his “do today’s business today” approach to everything. It also makes it easier for him to have an organized mind. The less there is to keep track of, the easier it is to keep it organized.
You know about how hectic things are the day after vacation. Stuff has not gotten done and work is backed up. Did you know there are people whose days are like that all the time? Sure, it may be due to having impossible jobs where they are always behind. That is a different matter they need to deal with. More typically, though, the problem is caused by not doing today’s business today, even though the opportunity is there to do it. They do the routine things but set the more difficult or unpleasant tasks aside. They want to think about it, will get back to it later, or do not feel like they have enough information.
Simon has learned most all of these tasks are five-minutes-or-less activities and require a decision or response to a problem or issue. It is not he does not have the time. He is avoiding action. His rule here is simple.
• First, delegate. Pass the problem or issue along to the person who has the needed information and the responsibility for the outcome. “Please take care of this. Let me know by next Tuesday how you handled it.”
• Second, if you cannot delegate, the rule is handle it, now. Make the best decision you can, based on what you know right now. Trust your experience, your instincts, your well-tested judgment.
• Third, if you cannot delegate and are not prepared to act, the rule is to trash it. A lot of unnecessary work is appropriately avoided by this simple step.
Less than 5% of the non-routine tasks outlive the previous three rules. This is, at least, much more manageable. Simon’s rule for this 5% councils,
• If you cannot finish it today, assign someone to work on it with you. That person is responsible for developing a completion schedule, getting the needed information together, and bringing a recommendation to you.
When the recommendation comes back, start with the first rule and run the steps again. The most likely outcome is you accept the recommendation and delegate the task to the person who has been working on the problem or issue. However you handle it, today’s business has been done today.