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Get More With Less Work, Better Thinking


 By Joyce Lain Kennedy
Special to Online Career Tips

DEAR JOYCE: I’m an auto-service writer and have been a hard worker all my life, always going the extra step and getting along well with co-workers. I thought I was in line for the service manager’s job, but last week the company brought in someone else from another dealership. Is my problem office politics or the fact that I’m a woman? — R.H.

Whether the missed opportunity was a gender issue, a political problem or personality deficit is impossible to diagnose from a distance. But I will offer the possibility that you can’t lose by giving serious consideration to improved performance positioning (marketing yourself) and smarter thinking.

Is it possible that you’ve allowed yourself to become so task-busy in completing assignments 100-percent perfect and on time that you lost sight of the larger challenges that determine a company’s fortunes?

Maybe you would come out ahead by working a bit less but more selectively. Perhaps you should save your heavy firepower for jobs that significantly benefit the company — the kind that focus higher-ups’ attention on your exceptional capabilities.

Author, speaker and creativity theorist Tim Hurson (timhurson.com) is a leader in the so-called productive thinking framework. His guide to the “Productive Thinking Model” (sometimes known as “ThinkX”) is a structured approach to problem solving that helps you come up with creative ideas. Its six steps are: “What’s going on? What’s success? What’s the question? Generate answers. Forge the solution. Align resources.” You can read several pages of detailed discussion about the Productive Thinking Model on Wikipedia.

Hurson’s classic book on the topic, last revised in 2011, is “Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking.”

Among Hurson’s timeless tips:

  • Defer judgment; you can’t generate ideas and judge them at the same time.
  • Build on ideas; use one idea as a springboard for another.
  • Seek the unusual; taming a wild idea is easier than invigorating a dull one.
  • Go for quantity; the more ideas, the better the chance of finding a good one.
  • Most decisions are based more on the past than on the evidence right in front of our faces.Keep an eye out for crucial projects that management will notice. Call such emphasis “positioning,” “political awareness” or enlightened self-promotion, but call it to mind as a strategy for nailing the next promotion, or for moving on and upward elsewhere.

    DEAR JOYCE: I plan to send an online holiday greeting card to my boss, but my mother says my boss seems “old school” to her and that I should send a traditional paper card. What do you think? — C.A.L.

    I haven’t sent a paper card in five years, so I’m the wrong arbiter. But reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor agrees with your mom. Their reasoning:

    “Greeting cards sent via electronic means may be regarded by recipients as inappropriate, perhaps even cavalier. E-cards also lack the personal touch of a card mailed individually to the boss’s door.”

    Allison & Taylor add their observation that e-cards and social media holiday greetings are often sent en masse, or (as is the case with social media greetings) can be done as spur-of-the-moment responses to a comment seen on Facebook or some similar venue. Where bosses are concerned, the reference checkers say, “Long live paper!”

    DEAR JOYCE: I note that Facebook finally has a job board. What’s the buzz on it? — R.P.

    Early opinions by recruiters think it’s not ready for prime time. Search for “C’mon Man! Facebook’s Long-Awaited Job Board is a Badly Flawed Mess” by Lance Haun on TLNT.com.

    (Email career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at jlk@sunfeatures.com; use “Reader Question” for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.)



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