It was during halftime of the 1975 Victorian Football League Grand Final between Hawthorn and North Melbourne when legendary Hawthorn coach John Kennedy coined what has evolved to become one of the more well-known phrases of Australian sport.
The backdrop to the story is Hawthorn were getting beaten and some players were giving the coach various opinions as to what the team should do when it got too much for the passionate coach Kennedy who just said “Don’t think, do something!’
So how did the 2nd half go? Well it seems like the saying had no effect on the game whatsoever as North Melbourne continued their stranglehold on the game to record their first ever VFL Grand Final Premiership.
I share this story as 40 years later because I see many instances where progress is stalled. As such, in these situations the saying could be altered to “Don’t just think, do something!”
What’s the relevance? What is making progress? Or putting it into action?
Well to me they’re outputs of productivity. Now I get it that most of us don’t jump out of bed and say I need help with being more productive. The conversation we generally have with ourselves is I need to have a productive day because I may have some form of deadline, deliverable or target to meet.
However, what gets in the way of making progress can be variations of:
- Speed (not being able to keep up with the pace)
- Having too much to do (a feeling of being overwhelmed)
- Procrastination (putting things off)
- Focussing on the wrong priorities
- Lack of accountability etc.
When this happens with a single person the outcome is they just might not be meeting expectations. However, when it happens to multiple people at an organisation, the negative impact on teams and the business can be quite significant.
Now what I see holding back a lot of knowledge workers is clarity. It’s not that the motivation to do well is lacking. It’s the what, when, where and how to best make the greatest impact in their respective job.
Here’s a simple example. Unless we’re measured on how many times we check our emails each hour then why would any sane person check emails 10, 20, even 30 times an hour? Yet many people do because they see it as either being urgent, important or easy to do. Think about how this level of interruption and distraction impedes us from making real progress on our key tasks or projects.
Knowledge workers don’t need unreachable or unusable skills. What’s required is a simpler approach to getting our work done in the expected timeframes.
That being said, there’s no magic wand to improving productivity as habits need to be addressed. It’s not difficult to do address habits that underpin how we work but there’s almost a wall blocking it when people either don’t realise this or understand the levers to pull to develop habits to get sustained excellence.
And this is at the heart of what productivity is – moving from either inaction or same old same old to action. The beauty of action is it creates energy and momentum which creates further progress.
I think most people don’t need more information, what they need is to be able to do something with the information or knowledge they’ve got. In other words the practical application of how to move into action.
So if you need to get into action or get more done in less time then maybe it’s time to get some help or if you know what needs to be done then “Don’t just think, do something!”