People are at the centre of what all organisations and businesses strive to achieve, but people aren't perfect or most reliable. Tim Ferris, a self-proclaimed experimenter, outlines in his book The Four Hour Workweek, ways in which we can empower each other to make independent and critical decisions, thereby removing communication bottlenecks. Here we summarise our top three takeaways for manufacturers and B2B Startups.
Whether you're a startup or a vast enterprise, your company's people are the most critical asset you have. They determine the work culture and productivity levels and the experience your customers have when they interact with your company.
That's why here at INQOVA, we believe in empowering people to make their own decisions, developing strong critical thinking skills, and encouraging hyper-intentional communication.
The Four Hour Workweek puts forth some great ideas about reducing time wasted at the office and streamline business processes to deliver your clients' best value. Although targeting individuals, we believe that Tim's book has lots of gems for companies like ours.
As part of a two-part series, we will be breaking down the top six insights we got out of reading The Four Hour Workweek into two articles. Follow us on social and subscribe to our newsletter stay in the loop!
Tim coins the term "empowerment failure" as the inability to accomplish a task without first obtaining permission or information.
Often, when employees aren't able to gain full access to the information required to make independent decisions, they look to their managers for approval. Thus, creating a managerial bottleneck that consumes a lot of unnecessary time and attention.
As an alternative, Tim suggests that as the leader of your team's leader or manager, the goal should be to grant as much information and independent decision-making abilities to employees or contractors.
"It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them." — Tim Ferris
The idea is to trust and enable others to act without seeking permission; this will create a great company culture and cut down many unnecessary back-and-forths.
It's time to stop asking for opinions and to start proposing solutions.If you find yourself asking questions like "where should we eat?" "what movie should we watch?" "what should we do tonight?" It might be time for you to start making statements instead.
The need to ask more open-ended questions stems from wanting to keep everyone happy and keeping options open. But this can easily lead to analysis paralysis, leaving the team confused and lost due to such questions' open-ended-ness.
Instead, Tim suggests to train yourself to propose solutions to questions. You could say something like:
“I propose …” “I’d like to propose …” “I suggest that … What do you think?” “Let’s try … and then try something else if that doesn’t work.”
To propose solutions is not to to be curt, but to develop your own critical voice, and to empower others to do the same.
Meetings are notoriously time-consuming. Nevertheless, such discussions are critical for team alignment, project brainstorming and communication in general. However, when overused, it can become one of the most time-draining activities you can do.
Instead of having meetings to define a problem, Tim believes that managers should only hold meetings to make decisions about a predefined situation. Which is why having an agenda for meetings is critical to saving everybody's time.
Meetings should only be held to make decisions about a predefined situation, not to define the problem. The next time your colleague or manager proposes a meeting, try to prepare the topics and questions that will come up prior to the meeting. Tim suggests saying something like:
"That sounds doable. So I can best prepare, can you please send me an e-mail with an agenda? That is, the topics and questions we’ll need to address? That would be great. Thanks in advance."
Learn more about other tools Tim Ferris uses to drastically cut down time and streamline processes here: The 4-Hour Workweek Tools
Remember, people are critical but can also cause critical damage. Here are our insights summarised for you to sleep on:
Tim Ferris has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People” and one of Fortune’s “40 under 40.” He is an early-stage technology investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and 50+ others) and the author of five #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. The Observer and other media have called Tim “the Oprah of audio” due to the influence of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, which is the first business/interview podcast to exceed 100 million downloads. It has now exceeded 600 million downloads.
Watch Tim's TED talk on fear setting here: