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September 16, 2013 » 9:27 am

Structures that Support Good Habits

Last week, Seb Paquet and I completed the third of our four-week experiment around regular conversations, including our regular “jazz hands moments” video (above). My “jazz hands moment” was the importance of self-care and how it applied to things as simple as determining whether or not to participate in a phone call.

However, upon reflecting on it some more this weekend, I wanted to highlight a different aside that came up in our conversation. At the beginning of our call, Seb complimented me for having our meeting notes prepared once again and said, “I’ve never met anyone as consistent about it as you.” It sounds like a little thing, but it was not only a nice acknowledgement, it was validation for the work I’ve put in around developing structures for supporting good habits.

One of the most important precepts of my work is good information hygiene. This is a concept coined by my friend and Blue Oxen cofounder, Chris Dent, almost a decade ago. I have long preached its importance, but in truth, I have not always been the best practitioner.

That is, until I started working with the team three years ago that would eventually evolve into Groupaya (which just celebrated its second anniversary yesterday). We agreed as a team on the importance of good information hygiene, some of our specific practices, and the basic roles that each of us would play. This included another principle to which I hold near and dear: Everybody works the line.

We developed a set of practices around project and meeting documentation, and we held each other accountable. I feel like we achieved about 80 percent of what I wanted us to be achieving, which was light years ahead of what I’ve seen anyone else — in our business or otherwise — do.

And, it was only the third best team I’ve been on when it comes to group information hygiene. Those distinctions go to my HyperScope team (seven years ago) and to my work with Chris (ten years ago). Both those teams had a higher overall literacy around information hygiene, which enabled us to distribute the roles more effectively.

However, what was different about the Groupaya experience was that I was much more intentional around building these practices into habits, and I walked away more disciplined about some of these practices than I ever had been before.

In addition to intention, the other key to my success in this case was my role as group “teacher.” In previous instances, we were all peers, equally committed and skilled. In the case of my Groupaya team, I played more of a “teacher” role, which gave me a heightened sense of accountability. I felt more pressure to model good practices.

I’m glad that I continue to model these practices, even after almost a year away from my old team. Information hygiene is a critical part of being a high-performance team, and I hope to continue to model these practices with every group with whom I work, regardless of the specific role I play.

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