Don’t start any work without a clear idea about why, followed by what. It only makes sense to solve problems that have been expressed; vague problems can be worked on perpetually and there is no measurement of resolve. There are several tools to define and structure problems and there is no need to over-complicate. Problems that are complex need to be broken down into its parts, in such a way that the answers to lower-level problems actually give the answers to the highest-level problem.
Allocate work parts to work outcomes, and describe and park any peripheral work parts as and until their value fits the overall purpose. Agree in your group who does what and how and when to access each other to collaborate. While you concentrate, don’t read and react to emails or allow distractions that are not helpful. Orient your time to what you need to be doing, not to what there is that might require doing. If your role combines change work with day-to-day responsibilities, allocate your time between the two types of work.
Always. Answer to yourself and others on how you spend your time. Think of your work as if you were a consultant, with project workstreams and start and end times. What would your stakeholders have you work on, with what purpose and expecting what outcome for the time spent? If unclear, get together and find out. If something gets you stuck, ask for help or put in a placeholder to do so later. Be respectful of other people’s time and engage them only so much as (and in the way that) you see the value of their contribution. Ask a question if the answer matters, not because it occurs to you that the question exists.
Any work done merits to be registered and fed back to its place in solving the overall problem. Findings merit crisp expression. Evidence should be presentable and available, as needed. Dead ends or superfluous level of detail get marked as such. Content and clarity matter more than the form (although consistent form does facilitate reading).
Imagine there is a voice recording of your contributions or that your written expression got published. Come prepared to meetings and take care to finish and structure your thoughts before expressing them. Go step by step and build on what’s been said or written. Less is more. Always remember who your audience is. Adapt and check for understanding, as appropriate. Get feedback, training or help when you need to lift your level of communication.
When change work is purpose-oriented, there is no keeping people informed or optionally inviting people to meetings. Emails should have one, or very few, recipient(s). The email title, as well as the first sentence (of content) in every email, phone call or discussion, should summarize its purpose. Feel no embarrassment in excusing yourself from meetings where your contribution is not clear.
If you know something that matters that has gone undetected by your group, speak up. If you are not sure if it matters, you can test it with a well-put question. Your presence at any meeting or in team working requires you to engage and contribute, even if something is outside of your direct responsibility. Challenge any conclusions that you do not agree with and probe for explanations if what is being said, or what was written, is unclear.
If someone is struggling with something you master or if you have more time than your colleague, you help. Gracefully and without expecting returns. That’s what good consultants do.
Closing the loop is important. Work done needs to be summarized, presented, challenged, refined and communicated. The top-line message comes first. Decisions merit follow up. There are more stakeholders than the direct decision-makers and all have a right to know what has been learned and achieved.