A Publication of WTVP

These days, when we think of tools, we think of power…and we definitely think digital. But some of the most innovative things professionals are introducing into their schedules and toolboxes are a little…well, out of the box. If you are looking to make ideas happen, engage productivity or inspire some new models, here are some opportunities that can help you overshoot your goals.

For Getting Things Done…
Go analog with an egg timer. We live in an age of distractions. Social media, Twitter streams, email, RSS feeds and news alerts bombard us with information. Although we have put the ability to multitask on a pedestal for many years, it is the ability to single-task that can help push projects over the finish line.

In order to focus, we need as much tunnel vision as possible. A recent study found that, on average, workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and find it takes 25 minutes to return to their original focus. Productivity experts give direction to begin each day by making two lists and employ an egg timer to help manage singular focus in 20- to 30-minute increments. Start by listing tasks that will take more than 20 minutes and those that will take less (email, for example). Then set the timer and go. Attack one long task with determined focus until the bell rings. Then reset the timer and start working the short tasks until the timer rings. Take a five-minute break, and then repeat the process.

For Landing a Job With a Dream Company…
I sent my resume to Microsoft…I haven’t heard anything back yet. Increasingly, large and prominent organizations are not hiring employees directly, but leveraging recruiters and placement agencies. Contingent staffing models allow companies like Microsoft the opportunity to do a dry run with their entry and mid-level positions with little risk.

To land these often lucrative jobs, applicants are learning to leverage recruiters. Recruiters are becoming the standard go-between for applicants and the organizations of their choice. A common misconception about recruiters is that they keep people out of jobs, when in reality, the exact opposite is true. A good recruiter focuses on making numerous solid placements. Recent college grads who have not been directly hired by organizations already will find benefit in strategically targeting recruiters.

For Better Organizational Metrics…
Fostering a culture of mobile collaboration. According to strategy+business magazine’s recent “Timeline of Events for the Coming Decade,” more than half of the workforce will be “flexible” in some capacity by the end of 2013. Developing a culture that supports workers outside the office while retaining operational efficiency will be one of the largest challenges organizations face, and the benefits for success are impressive. Organizations that foster collaboration via engaging social tools create opportunities for:

For Generating New Ideas…
Enabling innovation. MediaBank CEO Bill Wise recently hit on the importance of visionaries in taking businesses from good to great. “Having someone with a creative genius (perhaps with a touch of insanity),” he said, “can make the difference between moderate success and completely hitting it out of the park.” My hint: If you want to have innovation, you have to employ innovators.

Innovators are often a different breed than the corporate norm. Great innovators are game changers, problem solvers and rule breakers. One important thing to look for in a creative innovator is his or her ability to think critically, for all that creativity can be wasted if he or she lacks the ability to filter out the ideas that miss the mark. Innovators seem to always push the status quo. This compulsion enables them to find new opportunities to drive to and exploit. Find and develop innovators, for as Wise says, “If you can’t hit it out of the park, why bother playing the game at all?”

For Moving At the Speed of Business…
Enabling mobile collaboration. Many times, organizations do not implement better communications or networking technologies simply because leadership is not as aware of the expertise levels of their employees—especially their younger employees. Employees, after once encountering a manager who did not care, do not believe management wants to know how they could be more engaged with the output of their work.

Survey your employees to gain some perspective on their abilities. Gen Next loves to communicate and share their ideas and questions. They just prefer to do it on the go and through a device. Technology can help engage some of that interaction with employees, in effect, raising both productivity and heightening the possibility for better operational efficiencies going forward.

For Managing IT Spend…
The smartest answer to current technology. With the significant number of new products on the horizon easing the workload for our more mobile workforce, it makes sense to hang on to internal hardware—keeping it usable—for as long as possible. Cloud technology can help.

“Cloud computing” is really just a clever industry term for technology hosted elsewhere. By enabling hosted servers, desktops and communications, businesses extend the life of their current hardware by using it only as a secure access point. Hosted solutions are perfect for large organizations whose needs may encounter shifts in network usage, all the way down to the bootstrapping small entrepreneur who is paying monthly for only what he or she needs.

For Leadership…
Drop your BlackBerry, pocket a moleskin and sharpie, grab some handlebars and hold on tight. Employees aren’t the only people who need to get out of the office. Taking some time away from the day-to-day and immersing one’s self with time to think can lead to amazing results for corporate leaders.

Being inundated with information and employee issues day to day can wear on a leader’s brain. Some of the best leaders manage to schedule at least half a day to disconnect themselves each month. So “go offline”—golf alone, mountain bike, paint or visit a museum—and immerse yourself with the intention to simply disconnect. These moments often bring dramatic insight as your brain begins to process information in new and different manners. iBi