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December 08, 2014

Soapboxing the Rally Cry

December 08, 2014

That crazy mish-mash there – that's what the calendars of 20 busy people looks like. We use shared Google calendars here at SmallBox, and when you have the view set to show all of us, it's kind of panic attack inducing – even knowing that some appointments are work blocks for designing, researching and other non-meeting time with our team and our clients (time-blocking is one way we tried to honor our 2014 rally cry to "create space" this year).

Looking back, I think it was one of our toughest challenges in 2014. When we chose this rally cry during our Winter Factory Week, we had grand notions to make space by creating efficiencies, removing clutter through focus and discipline. The idea was that in this newly created space, we would have more room to review and refine work, and our minds would be more clear and sharp for the tasks that remain. In some ways it built upon our rally cry from 2013, "Make every page count." If we create space, then we're in a stronger position to make every page (anything we write, design, build) count.

In reality, creating space is tough in a world where we're increasingly wired to fall into the busy trap. We'd block out time for what matters, only to have a level 5 committment appear and compete for the same space. But there were definitely times that having this rally cry helped give us the discipline needed to do fewer things better.

I'm going to get on my soapbox here a bit, and this one's a two-parter.

Soapbox, part 1: Create space. No really, do it!
Sometimes creating space requires saying no, and that might mean missed opportunities. Sometimes even really good ones. But the benefits of having mental space to do great work with what you do tackle far outweighs the losses.

Questions for making space:

  • Is this meeting essential?
  • Is this something I should say no to?
  • If I ranked this among my other commitments, where would it fall?
  • Is there a system or method that would make this work more efficient?
  • Is someone else better at this work that me?
  • Can/should I delegate this?

Soapbox, part 2: Go forth and get your team a rally cry!
This is the second year we've chosen one, and they've been incredibly guiding and helpful. Even if we do miss the mark, it helps get everyone rowing in the same direction. The rally cry puts simple, clear language to what's most important right now. I especially love having a rally cry because it's a nice tool to hold one another accountable. We can always ask, "Have we made this page count?" or "Have we made space?" if we think someone might have missed the mark. Rally cry questions provide a great framework to start the conversation and to assess our work.

In some ways, we're still seeing how our rally cries unfold for us. Will the old ones eventually fade away? Will they become important tenets, part of the SmallBox way? For now I still find both to be useful and meaningful. We're already kicking around ideas for the 2015 rally cry, which we'll choose by our next Winter Factory Week in February, if not before.

Do you have a rally cry? If you chose one for 2015, what would it be?

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today's prompt: "Rants & Raves. Get on your soapbox. What issue, idea, or stance were you vocal about this year? Or did you let it internally build up? Was there an event, person, or time that triggered your strong reaction? Or was it a slow-burn? Why do you feel so strongly – is it personal? Emotional? Strictly reasonable? Show us some passion – make your argument from the mountaintop!"

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