Goals of 2010: A Retrospective

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2010 was successful in some ways, but stagnatory in others. Let’s have a look how good it was in terms of my “Five Goals of 2010” post in Feb last year.

 

1. Write more: They say writing is a muscle, and I intend to train that muscle more this year. I intend to blog both here and (more frequently) my work team blog to practice writing coherent, readable and perhaps even interesting content.

 

This one did not go as well as planned. I did however discover somewhat early on why this was going to be the case. Writing requires spare time and mental focus, not only for actually writing, but for reading, collecting and collating ideas, subconsciously forming thoughts on subjects and generally having an exploratory mind-set and a workday to match. I’ve found that while I’ve had my nose to the grindstone in a full time software engineering role at work, I have little time for all that fluffy stuff that allows one to be in a position to write. Any spare time/focus was immediately dispatched by walking up to our Kanban board at work and starting development on the next issue to be delivered.

Earlier this year I changed my role from full time engineering to focussing on Knowledge Management, User Experience and Innovation management at my company. I am the only employee who is looking at each of these areas “full-time” at any time over the next 12 months. This is a fundamental change in that my work is now exploratory and research-driven, as opposed to being an engineer where the nature and priority of your tasks are largely decided for you by the ‘system’ of work already in place. There is a much narrower scope for discovery. Having a more exploratory work day will provide me with more room to both explore the new worlds of KM, UX and Innovation, and consequently write about my discoveries (indeed, blogging on our internal blog is one of the key techniques I intend to use to evangelise the use of our internal corporate wiki). So hopefully more progress on this goal in 2011!

 

2. Read more: I was never really a reader until a few years ago but since moving to London where books are a lot more affordable (vs South Africa), it seems counter-intuitive not to make good use of Amazon. Also very compelling but ‘recent’ is  the utterly trivial effort one has to put in to access the top 1% of any particular topic making it so easy to read only the best rated stuff. I am hoping that my Msc will only keep me down to 1 book every month or so.

 

This was probably my most successful goal of 2010. From Google Reader and Twitter linkage to management-related bestsellers and the excellent Harvard Business Review magazine, I increased my reading activity 5 fold (The iPad I purchased recently is definitely the most superior delivery mechanism for reading “internet” ever). I read so voraciously that I periodically try to figure out whether I’m hitting the consuming vs producing trap (guilty mostly). The 2011 sequel to this goal will be retention. Reading is all very well but if you don’t ‘install’ the valuable lessons into your brain to be able to put them into practice (and even better, communicate them to your colleagues), you’re wasting valuable effort. Read my next blog post for an interesting way I’ve thought about doing this…

4 non-technical and highly recommended books I’ve read in 2010:

  • Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Lies, by Pfeffer & Sutton
  • Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution, by Geoffrey Moore (blogged about this one)
  • Freakonomics, by Levitt & Dubner
  • Back of the Napkin, by Dan Roam (wins my “skill acquisition of the year” award)

    3. Pick an interesting dissertation subject and start on the research: At the moment I’m thinking about doing something related to Evidence-based Management. Starting a dissertation in the first year of a two-year Msc is ahead of schedule though so this strikes me as a good goal to have.

    That didn’t go very well either, but there is some progress. I’ve decided that the opportunity afforded to me at work of being responsibly to roll out, evangelise and drive adoption of our internal wiki (Confluence) is a golden opportunity to construct a case study of how best to do so, highlighting what kind of interventions are the most successful. This is a piece of original research that I can contribute to the Knowledge Management stock and, as a dissertation subject, is far more clearly outlined than any ideas I have about Evidence-based Management at this stage.

 

4. Health and Fitness: Last summer I was going pretty well with sport and gym until I tore my calf muscle playing a tough game of squash. The 3 month layoff after that made me lazy and the Winter has delayed any real come back. This year I want to regain that fitness and stay injury free.

 

Well, not that you can control that kind of thing beyond taking the obvious precautions, but I did manage to stay injury free last year. However this isn’t a really good goal, as I find my fitness fluctuates during the year anyway. It’s most often in the Summer that I’m in peak shape, and certainly in Winter that I’m still in a shape, just round! A familiar story for a lot of us I think.

 

5. Learn more French: I have done some basic courses but I want to attain the next level in the summer with another course. In a few years when I have more time for different things I plan to become conversational, but I’m happy to limit it to 1 step towards that this year.

 

This was ambitious to begin with! It’s still a goal, but will have to wait until after my Msc is complete.

Bonus lesson learnt: Have more measurable goals, with sub-goals / milestones to leverage both Divide and Conquer and the Power of Momentum. Also, make them visible (fridge door, beside monitor at work desk) so you reflect periodically on their state of completion.

Soon I’ll blog my Goals for 2011 – definitely want to kick more ass this year!

Further reading:

PS. Happy New Year!

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