Managing any group of bright people has it’s challenges. Years ago, I became concerned that some of the people I managed would 1). suffer from burn out, and 2). need to find fresh input to continue to have good ideas. As such, I developed a concept for them that I called Intellectual Moments.
The rules for Intellectual Moments were simple. They happen once a month. On that day, people in my team were to sign themselves as out. No email. No calls. No meetings. In place of the normal daily activities, they were to take time to expose their mind to something NON WORK related. This was very important. It was not a day to catch up on reading work related things. It had to be a day to feed the mind with new content. Some examples of appropriate activities for the day:
1. Attend a lecture by someone in another field
2. Read a book on something like anthropology (none of my team are anthropologists)
3. View a documentary
4. Listen to TED talks,
The idea was to expose the mind to new stimuli, and allow it to form new insights and connections. I then ask each team member to report back to me on what they did, and what they learned.
The result? As you can imagine, it is a battle. Normal comments include “I am too behind to take a day,” “let me just catch up on some email first,” “I don’t see how this is going to help me answer client questions,” or my favorite “does your boss approve of us doing this?” It is a long, consistent process of encouraging and engaging the team on this. But I do believe it is of value. The time taken from work is more then repaid by fresh insights and connections.
I am interested if people have seen other techniques to accomplish the same thing. I am always looking for good ideas.
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