January’s newsletter from McKinsey Quarterly included an article to help senior executives cope with information overload. The advice boils down to four must-dos:
1. Stop multi-tasking. It’s addictive, makes us anxious, slows us down, and impairs creative problem solving. Acknowledge, reevaluate, and adjust the mindset that glues us to futile work patterns.
2. Focus. Resist intellectual over-consumption. Create and protect “alone time.” According to article authors Derek Dean and Caroline Webb, each day senior executives should shut down email, close web browsers, send phone calls to voice mail and – if they must – leave the BlackBerry or smart phone where they can’t check it.
3. Filter. Look only at matters needing a decision. Confine emails to those addressed directly (ignore cc’s) and ask the sender to include recommendations where appropriate. Delegate.
4. Forget. In short, regularly do something that puts work out of your mind.
Sounds good, but how? That’s where an Executive Content Manager fits into the contemporary corporate structure.
What are the characteristics of a 21st Century Executive Content Manager?
1. Absolute integrity… a person you can trust … a person to whom you grant open access to your email accounts, who can capably sift through, route, and abstract what you need to know, turning a useless mountain into a focused molehill.
2. Intelligence … somebody smart, intuitive, and curious, who has a nose for trends … who can navigate the swift political waters … who understands what is important to the organization, both intellectually and functionally.
3. Superior communications and interpersonal skills… somebody who can read, write, condense, perceive, and abstract.
With this level of executive support, senior management can now focus on the business of visioning and strategic planning.