Monkey Monday - November 9th, 2020

What is the perfect working week? Introducing Matt’s Rule of Thirds.

Communication | Monkey Mondays | Business development | Project management

Greetings primate fans! We’re hitting your airwaves again with another Monkey Monday. Today Matt is sharing some ideas he’s had about project management. These apply really well to creative industries like ours, but maybe they can be expanded out to other sectors? Let us know what you think!

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Season 3 Ep2
Matt. I'm blue. I'm really blue.
Don't be blue, man. I can cheer you up.
Oh, thank you. Yess!
Hi, I'm Matt.
I'm Chris.
Welcome to another Monkey Monday. I have to say it slowly.
You said it properly.
It's alright, we can overdub it if I get it wrong. It's fine.
So what are we going to talk about today, Matt?
We're just gonna have another chat. Another chat. So a thing that I've been thinking about.
Oh yeah, that kind of chat.
So, um, we've recently kind of disrupted how we run our project management a little bit inside our own business. And, um, I've been chatting with some of our team and it's something that sort of came to me a bit really with regards to - particularly our industry - but I think it could apply to other people too.
Let's see.
So what we've been trying to do is create, um, a working week. That's kind of split into, into three things, really. So we have a bit of, we call it the churn or the waiter service, which is kind of reactive work that comes in. So I need one of these, I need one of these and need one of these. And, uh, we get a lot of that. That's fine. We want to serve, um, we want to serve our customers a certain way, but too much of that, if all you have is that, it's kind of, it's like being on a, uh, a line in a factory or something you just you're just chopping carrots or something. Uh, not that I devalue that skill. I'm sure it's amazing. But, um, it can be draining. It can be really draining. Another type of work that we, we do, uh, is organized sprints to achieve a goal. So we go, right. Let's, let's do this. Let's get here. Uh, here are our tasks. We're going to do it in this timeframe. And they're great. Especially if we're all collaborating on something. So it's kind of like a, um, uh, a goal-driven thing. And it's, it's vigorous and exciting. If your entire week is full of that though, that can be - if you're doing 37 and a half hours of that - and that is your window, that can be quite exhausting.
Yeah. Agreed. Yeah.
And the third part is, is kind of headroom really. And that's when you don't really have either of them things to do so headroom is like your free time. If you like. If all you have is free time, uh, you just gonna be bored. It's just boring. So a mix of a third of each, uh, we found creates a lot of happiness because sometimes the churn is good. Because you can switch off for a day. You can bat through some tasks. You don't have to be too creatively challenged. The sprints are great because you get so much reward from completing them goals. And the headroom can be used to try and top one of those tanks, or it can be used for creative time. And it's, it's a really powerful thing. And I kind of got to thinking, uh, well I was trying to think of some good metaphors for them.
Oh, yes.
Yeah. I don't know...
What like what?
Well, I didn't get very far. I kind of thought, yeah. I kind of thought the waiter one is an obvious one.
Uh, I kind of, I think this goes back to my roots, that the exciting bit is being a rock star.
And, uh, then hammock time.
Hammock time.
Hammer time.
I could do more hammock time than churn time, but yes. Yeah. I see where you're coming from.
But then I thought this, you know, and I know how, um, powerful. This has been inside my own working life and maybe this wouldn't work for everybody, but it's certainly resonated with our team. And then I got to thinking, perhaps this is something that works not just for, for that. Perhaps it works externally too. So I'm thinking of when I'm thinking of, uh, you know, if a customer of ours is on retainer with us. Is it good to communicate this to them as well? And go look, Hey, we know there's going to be a certain amount of recurring work you need doing, or I don't know, maintenance on your website or there's, there's the churn, the waiter service, reactive bits. Maybe a third of what your expectation of us could be that, maybe we can focus a third on, you know, some real, objective, you know, driven stuff, where they can come to us and say - which they do a lot, they do this a lot to us - go, Hey, look, I've got 10 grand. I want to achieve this. Here you go. What can you do for that? And then maybe there's some headroom here as well for us to be proactive, where we can go, Hey, look, we have some capacity. We've built some capacity, let's hit this. And then I thought, can we do this? Can we do, would this, expand out to I dunno your supply chain, can you like, would it work if you were talking to, I dunno, whoever delivers your products or something, could you go, well, look, we know you need to go out and deliver our products, but maybe, um, maybe we can give you a bit more time and money to think about how we could improve that service together or something. I don't know. I'm just blurting nonsense now.
I think it's really interesting and it really shows you what Matt, uh, dreams of at night.
Well, you joke. But it was literally, uh, three o'clock this morning and that was, that was buzzing around my head and I couldn't sleep.
But I often feel like, um, it's, it's interesting when you employ people and just trying to, um, worry about their mental health, because just doing churny tasks all the time, it is really horrible for anyone to do and having the sprinting time where people can work together is really, really nice. But yeah, especially at the minute when people are on Zoom and Google Meet or whatever, that's really quite zapping, energy sapping. And having a bit of time where people can have a bit of downtime. Like when I came into the office a couple of weeks ago and, um, Emma, who does our PR and social media, she was on the floor because she'd, um, been trying to roller skate for the first time in 20 years.
So that sentence started a bit like she was on the floor sobbing... but it was quite the opposite.
Probably the most hilarious thing I've seen, but yeah, it was really good.
But I think, uh, what I, what I've seen since we started kind of trying to adopt this approach is that, um, the team kind of, they organize that, that churn for, uh, for a day that they want to kind of get in that head space and, um, I found that they kind of hit through those, those, um - they're still valuable tasks - but they just kind of want, they want to get them closed so that they can then jump on the cool stuff. The exciting stuff. It's almost like it never, it's never the other way round, really. They never go, oh, well, I'm going to put the churn towards the end of the week. They kind of go, right. Let's get this out of the way. And then I can jump on the sprint. And then maybe the end of the week, I'll have some head room. And I think it's, it's really changed. Um, uh, how the team, I guess, talk about their work. And it's really good. What's a good work week look like?
And it's good. I mean, because, um, Matt's doing some of our project management at the minute, uh, having that in the diary, so you can, you might be doing something you find really boring now, but at least in half an hour's time or tomorrow, there's something that's really exciting in there, rather than looking down the line and going, Oh, I've got months of this just dreadful stuff. I think that's really powerful.
So one thing I've asked of my team is, Hey, just to shout up, if they feeling too much like a waiter, because I don't want that. We don't want guys just sat there going, I'm not really getting much out of this, um, or if they've got too much headroom, if they're a little bit free, got some free time and they want to do something creative. It's been really good because it just lets us organize stuff and go, okay, I've got these three, three guys over here. They've got some, they've all got a bit of spare time. It's all on Wednesday. Let's. Let's do something on that Wednesday. Let's make something really cool, either for one of our customers or for us or something. And that is awesome. It's just so good to see. And it's really changed, I think the way - it's really improved the happiness, I think, which is what we're all about.
Yeah. It's just nice to see Matt energized. Isn't it. Look at him. Look at him go!
Sorry, I'm spent now.
Well, let us know your thoughts.
Yeah, maybe you've got, maybe you've got a different, I mean, we haven't codified this, I haven't read anything about this. It's just something I've adopted and blurted out. Uh, but maybe there's something in it. Maybe you guys can relate. Let us know what you think.
And maybe we can all call it Matt's Rule of Thirds.
Yes. Why not? There we go. It's got a name now. Waiter, rockstar, hammock.
Yep. Lovely. Right. I'm going to get in my hammock.
Um, I need a guitar and then I can be a rock star. Oh.

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