Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Connecting #Holacracy with #VSM (Viable System Model) – there’s hope yet!

I’ve been reading quite some stuff recently on Holacracy, and I think it would make for a very nice mashup with the Viable System Model. Here’s how:

  • The circles look a lot to me like Systems 1 and a hierarchy of them (super-circles, sub-circles) smells like VSM recursive levels to me. If you add that you can have Cross Link representatives (connecting circles that are not hierarchically connected), that starts to looks like true recursivity to me.
  • Then, you have the “process breakdown” part of the constitution that, to me again, is a way to detect unmatched variety at some level and pass it up the hierarchy/recursivity for managing (System 2)
  • And of course, the Lead Link/Rep Link roles match somewhat naturally with the vertical channels: the ones going down from system 3 to System 1 and up through System 2 as well.
  • Separation between operational meetings and governance meetings would fit well with an S3/S1 separation as well
  • Holacracy incorporates some features of the personal productivity method “Getting Things Done” (GTD) from David Allen, and this obviously would make for a very nice addition to a VSM-based organization (or any other one for that matter).

Indeed, Holacracy looks like a very nice way of running a VSM at whatever level you consider it. Where people might mismatch a VSM organization for a hierarchical one, having circles one inside another as a way to feature the recursive nature of VSM and at the same time having each circle functioning as a viably entity in its own would be a great addition. Holacracy doesn’t address the viability of circles explicitly, yet it provides for some nice alerting mechanisms (algedonic signals in VSM terms) that would allow to bootstrap viability.

Where VSM brings a bit more to the picture, to me, is with its specific focus on the Environment (bringing the outside in, something that Steve Denning identified on Forbes) and the explicit focus on the Future and Ethos through System 4 and 5.

What do you think?

Getting Things Done (#GTD) : l’art de l’efficacité sans stress | @ShakeYourMindFr

Voici des explications et une présentation de GTD en Français: Getting Things Done (GTD) : l’art de l’efficacité sans stress | Shake Your Mind.

À comparer à mes divers documents publiés sur Slideshare.

Le site contient des informations intéressantes et utiles sur plusieurs sujets, expliquées en profondeur (Pareto, Mindmaps, Process Com, etc.) Faites-y un tour!



Décomposition des tâches #GTD nouvelle version en français

September 19th, 2012 Posted in GTD Tags: , , , ,

Je viens de me rendre compte que j’avais fait une mise à jour de ma décomposition “job breakdown” de GTD depuis la 1re version.

La nouvelle décompose chacune des cinq étapes du processus (collecter, identifier, organiser, faire, revoir). Cela peut servir :

  • comme memento si vous avez oublié certains points
  • pour présenter GTD à quelqu’un en étant sûr de n’avoir rien oublié
  • comme support de formation (attention, pour vendre une formation, il vous faudra une certification “train the trainer” auprès de DavidCo)
  • pour vous tester afin de vérifier que vous n’oubliez rien dans votre pratique de GTD 😉

Voici le document.: STD GTD Job Breakdown Sheet v2.4 FR

Pour rappel, j’ai un autre site où je diffuse gratuitement plusieurs documents que j’ai créé autour de GTD:

Advantage of the lastest version of #Autofocus (superfocus) over #GTD

People that know me a bit know that I’m a big fan of GTD (Getting Things Done), the personal productivity methodology created by David Allen. However, that did not prevent me from trying a few other approaches, one of them being “AutoFocus” by Mark Forster (please note that there is now a new system: SuperFocus).

Although GTD undoubtedly helped my greatly reduce the level of stress associated with all my work to do, I still sometimes feel the problem of procrastination. Having all my commitments written down allows me to relax and… do something else! Indeed, I work better under pressure, so this is not really a problem. Yet, sometimes, I envy people who can just crush through things and get them done.

This is where AutoFocus comes to play for me. Out of its simplicity (as compared to GTD; yet, I’m convinced that GTD is easy and I wrote about this earlier here – David Allen himself tells it!) there’s a rule that forces its users to achieve some things. That rule states that you can’t turn a page until you’ve worked on all of the right column (urgent or stuff not yet finished).

This is powerful! As you know there are other things you would like to work on other pages, you’re forced by the system to first finish urgent or previous stuff.

Indeed, this refrain yourself from going too fast and thus creates an expectation feeling. By forcing you to slow down it indeed speeds up the finishing of tasks. Really what I needed!

Of course, it won’t prevent anyone from surfing and emailing, but at least, some more things will get done.

What’s more, you can combine this with GTD by forcing yourself to work at least on one task on each page of your GTD system (which is easy with mine since it’s paper-based).

Now, in “pure GTD”, if you feel like you can relax and do something else, it also means that you trust your system and that, being confident about your plate of work, doing something else is actually the best thing to do now!

#GTD and #SolutionFocus: doing what works for you!

September 28th, 2011 Posted in GTD, Solution Focus Tags: ,

In this somewhat different post from what I’m used to publish, I’d like to give some highlight on Getting Things Done (GTD) which I’m practicing since 2006 (5 years as of today!) which unbeatable success.

GTD is an approach (some say a method) to personal productivity which allows you to get things done without the traditional accompanying stress (hence its subtitle: “stress free productivity“). I need to say this is absolutely true and GTD changed my life for the better!

Now, a lot of people are reluctant to doing GTD because they feel it overwhelming: lots of lists, lots of writing stuff down (or entering in a PDA or smartphone) and, in the end, lots of thinking. That’s true. Yet, when one think of it, there’s nothing new as compared to what people are usually doing when they’re starting to feel stressed by their work (beside, home stuff is still some work to do).

Indeed, I claim that GTD is the result of applying the principles of Solution Focus to personal productivity and stress reduction techniques.

On Actions

What do people do when they feel overwhelmed by all the stuff they need to do?

They write it down onto lists!

And what increases the chances of an Action to be done? That there is no thinking left as to what needs to be done. Hence the stress on Next physical actions as opposed to just “stuff” written done on a list. Stuff isn’t done, actions are.

On Lists

What do people do when they have too much of different things?

They make different lists!

Do you write your shopping list on the same page as your office lists or on your gardening list? Probably not, because you create lists that depend on Contexts: stuff that you can only activate when in the proper context.

With respect to gardening, should you need some fertilizer, chances are you’ll note it on your shopping list and put “Spread fertilizer” on your gardening list.

This is exactly what GTD urges you to do…

  • Contexts (and Agenda) lists are used to separate actions that can’t be done because they mandate different places, tools or people
  • Someday/maybe list is some things you don’t need to see often but need to store somewhere nonetheless
  • Waiting For lists are to be reviewed to remind people (or yourself) of pending stuff so that your brain doesn’t have to remember that all the time
  • Calendar is a special form of context where you note actions (“meetings”) at specific dates and times to be automatically reminded when they’re due

On Outcomes

How many times have you been asked in business settings to apply the SMART criteria to tasks and objectives? This is exactly what GTD asks you when you’re asked to think about the Outcome of your Actions and Projects (or to your Horizons of Focus on a different level).

On Projects

When it comes to projects, all that GTD advocates for is to gather all project related stuff into one place and write Next Actions to the context they belong to (ie, what is most efficient to ensure they’ll be done).

On Horizons of Focus

Horizons of Focus is just GTD way of sorting the short from medium and long-term stuff. What you want to get done now depends on where you want to be later. So one’s has better to identify that later as soon and as clearly as possible before going in the wrong direction (which is demoralizing so say the least and hinder doing of actions)

On Review

We all know life’s full of surprises and sometimes you get caught in the whirl of life. You get lost with yourself. So, what works for re-centering yourself? Reviewing of course!

  • review of your lists (to mark what’s been done)
  • emptying your head again to get clear
  • review your horizons of focus to stay current with where you want to go

Frankly, in 5 years of GTD, I’ve never found the system unbearable or some kind of lists useless. I may not use all contexts (I don’t use Phone for instance) and my Errands-for-tonight-after-work ends up as a Post-It™ in my shirt jacket, but all of GTD is useful and easy to do (also here by David Allen himself)!

GTD is nothing that you’re not already doing by yourself, systematized.

Easy #GTD by David Allen

April 20th, 2011 Posted in GTD Tags:

In his last “productive living”, David Allen, creator of GTD, summarizes GTD himself as being just the following points:

  • Write things down.
  • Decide outcomes and actions.
  • Organize and review them.

I couldn’t tell it better myself (I probably was a bit excessive by reducing GTD to two points only 🙂 It remind me of that classical way of brewing tea (from a renowned chinese tea expert whose name I can’t remember…):

  • boil water
  • pour on tea properly
  • drink

Of course, all the tricks are in the boiling, the pouring and the drinking… to the extent that you need to understand that there probably are no perfect practices, only best practices… that must suit you!


#GTD is easy! Here are the three habits you already knew how to do

April 1st, 2011 Posted in GTD, Solution Focus Tags: , ,


Getting Things Done book

Getting Things Done book

GTD – Getting Things Done- is a personal productivity method that helps you get things done and relieve the often associated stress. It’s been created by David Allen in his book “Getting Things Done, the art of stress-free productivity“.

This might surprise a number of you, but I’m a firm believer that GTD, in all its bells and whistles is easy to implement, because you already know how to do GTD and when you think about it, that basically comes down to only three habits.

Surprise! Who would have thought that? People often complain that GTD is tricky and complicated to setup and use, that they get lost in too many lists and that they don’t know how to deal with such a complicated system. To which is often replied that it would be worst without any system.

But do people really have no system to manage their todos prior to GTD? I doubt it and here is why.

First habit: write stuff down

What do you do when you’re stress because you have lots of stuff to do?

You write it down.

And what does GTD tell you to do? Suspense… Exactly the same: write stuff down!

So, basically, we all already know that to relieve stress regarding stuff to be done, the best way is to write it down so as not to forget any of it.

That’s all. The very basic of GTD is to write stuff down to:

  • Empty your head instead of trying to memorize it, so that you can think clearly afterwards to concentrate on getting things done.
  • Remember it later.

Is this black magic? I doubt it…

What GTD tells you to do is to write stuff down all the time. We had a working solution to kill stress, so all we have to do is to apply it continuously. Hey, you had a thought just right now! Write it down. And that one too: write it down as well! This is how your inbox fills up which brings me to the second GTD habit.

Second habit: identify the desired outcome

Ok, this one may be less intuitive, yet you do it all the time when you really want something: you describe it in as much details as possible. You create a powerful vision that’s so compelling to you that you can’t help but go for it and do the necessary tasks that are required for it to occur.

I agree that most of the time, these powerful visions result from some exchange with a friend or partner and you rarely construct them in your mind on your own. Yet, this is the way humans are: we move in the direction of our most powerful visions of the future.

What GTD tells you to do is to ask yourself, for each stuff that you’ve written down: What’s the desired outcome? You need to do this when you take a thing from your inbox and think about it. You need to turn that “stuff” into a “desired outcome”.

As for the technical background, a desired outcome is something expressed in a positive way (something you want rather than something you don’t want) and in the present tense “as if” it had already occurred. Both these criteria are necessary for a well crafted “desired outcome” that will ensure you the best results.

Which leads us to our third and last habit…

Third habit: identify the Next Action

Who needs an MBA to understand that “Call sister to book her garden for mom’s birthday” is easier to deal with than “Mom’s birthday party”? Clear and detailed next physical actions are easier to deal with than vague “stuff”. Oh that was difficult to come with, for sure!

What GTD tells you to do is to do that consistently, for all the “stuff” that came into your world that you probably have jotted down on paper or in your smartphone: first identify the desired outcome and then what the Next Action is.

Putting it all together

This is all about GTD! When you put it all together, it looks like what follows.

Write, Outcome, Next Action

So, here we are:

  • Write down everything that cross your mind in order not to forget about it and keep an clear mind
  • Identify the corresponding desired outcome
  • Write down the Next physical Action(s) required to move the original “thing” to completion.

What do you need to do that for? Well…

What GTD tells you to do is to apply this model of “write>outcome>action” to all your life (or more precisely to all of your altitudes). That means:

  • To your Actions
  • To your Projects
  • To your life altogether: Personal values, 3 to 5 years Vision, 1-2 years Objectives and Areas of responsibility.


What do you do when you have lots and lots of stuff? Again, real magic here… you sort them!

That’s just what GTD lists are: a way to sort all of this stuff and Projects and Actions you’ve come about into different “Contexts”.

What GTD tells you to do is to:

  • Move Actions to different Contexts so as to avoid looking at Actions to which you can’t do anything because you’re just not in the right place or have the right tools or are with the right persons to do them (these last lists are called Agendas).
  • Move stuff you’re not sure you’re really willing to do or you’re not sure when you’re going to do them, to a Someday/Maybe list.
  • Move stuff you need to check about later in a Waiting For list.
  • Move date or hour specific actions to your Calendar (yes, this is also a form of context in GTD, dependent on Time and Place: that of the meeting!)
  • Move all your projects to a Project List so that you also don’t lose track of them
  • Move all your project related information to Project specific folders so that they are all in one place.

So, here is how you come about to having a whole GTD system in place. Of course, viewed from the end, it’s a lot of lists. That’s why GTD tells us to do a Weekly Review just to maintain that system under control: go through all of your lists and mark what have been done. And during the review, write down stuff that might pop up in your head. And to help you further your emptying of your head, GTD provides you with Incompletion Trigger lists (both personal and professional).

That’s it! So, do you still think GTD is difficult?


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