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It’s not about how many hours you put in, it’s about what you put in the hours. It might surprise you to learn that this statement comes from a former junior consultant at McKinsey and Co. To outsiders, the company is known to require its consultants to work long hours.
Rune argues it is all about prioritizing your planning, so your team is working on the most important tasks:
“I always think in two timelines: I always think three or four weeks out, whether we are focusing on the right problems, where will this take us, what do we need to do, what kind of process do I need to put in place? At the same time, I also focus two or three days out, making sure that I have the right time boxes to review the near-term stuff.”
Getting a little help has never hurt anyone either:
“Each day, towards the evening, I start planning in terms of how I can make sure that the work that I do will keep working while I’m sleeping. What I mean by that is that this is where I really think about outsourcing. So, I will sketch out the slides very quickly before I leave the office, scan them in, send them to India (which works perfectly in terms of time zone) and it gets produced overnight.”
Perhaps most important of all is the routine that you establish with your team when it comes to ensuring that everyone is focused on the right tasks.
”The morning check-in meeting is crucial, because it covers questions like: What do we need to get done? What are we focusing on this week? What does success look like this week? What does success look like today, and what tasks are we all focused on?”
Besides ensuring everyone is on the same page and prioritizing the right tasks, Rune stresses the need for time alignment:
“I can help them prioritize. So, I might ask Sophie ‘how long are you spending on investigating whether there is a competitor?’. If she says 4 hours, then I may tell her I would have expected 15 minutes searching on Google, because that’s the importance I attach to it. This way we make sure our expectations match.”
Humble by nature, Rune preferers to shift focus from his personal story to other great business people. Inspiring CEOs - the Elon Musk', Steve Jobs’ and Jeff Bezos' of the world - all come to mind because they follow strict routines.
Routines serve as a fixed point on an uncertain day when everybody wants your time. Rune explains how he worked with a CEO who took routines to a whole other level:
“She was always on a microbiotic diet, making sure she only ate and drank things that were effective for her body, and she ate dinner every day no later than 6. Then she went home, kept working from home and went to bed at exactly 11 every day. She would only sleep 4.5 hours a day. Some people might find that a bit extreme, but what’s impressive is sticking to your routines so religiously. Even if she had a board meeting or whatever, she would always get dinner at 6.”
We’re all familiar with routines. Some are good, some not so much. Sometimes we’re forced to change our routine, even if the old one was actually better.
On Blackberries vs iPhones
Considering he is so tech-savvy – (his house is IoT connected and he controls his lighting and heating from his smartphone), Rune’s opinions on modern gadgets might seem surprising:
“We had blackberries back in the day – that was modern when I started! Then we got iPhones, which is not very effective actually – Blackberries were much better. I switched to iPhone because it helps my personal life, but it does nothing for my professional life. Blackberries were a much more effective email platform, but they were so crap at everything else – Facebook, news, other distractions – that you just weren’t tempted.”
It stands to reason that a man whose entire career is built around precision, organization, and efficiency would prefer the interface of a phone which encouraged those qualities. And let’s be honest, we could all benefit from having fewer distractions in our lives…
What do you think? Bring back the Blackberry, or long live the iPhone?