In Manhattan Beach last week, I sat first row in the Getting Things Done productivity seminar, bent on mastering David Allen’s system that I’ve been studying for about five years. I’m local in Los Angeles, but many people had flown in and paid nearly $600 for six hours of “creating a mind like water.” Yes, being productive isn’t just to-do lists and cleaning out your email, it’s creating space in your brain. That takes a commitment to getting everything out and organized mostly by context – that is, where you can get whatever it is done. A regularly scheduled and ad-hoc mind sweep of all your next steps and projects, lets you do your creative work or be fully present in a meeting without “need yogurt!” or “revise book!” doing pop-up video in your brain, and ruining your focus on the now.
That was then, this is now
So what’s wrong with my trip into organizer heaven? The system was invented almost 30 years ago (although the book was a bestseller just five or so years ago). I’ve bought everything GTD: books, CDs, ebooks, planners, cheat sheets and now the seminar. But, there is no GTD smart phone app, software or web/cloud app. In part, I attended the seminar to find out what other GTD fans are using, and it’s a wide spectrum of choices, none ideal.
The founder, David Allen has refused to create an electronic or digital system, even in the face of millions of GTD fans needing it. Instead, various unrelated companies have adapted it and produced solutions. So you have to ask around to see what other fans have found and then poke around each choice to see for yourself. Of course, because the GTD people won’t even certify apps, none of them follow the GTD system in an ideal way.
Collaborating your brand?
It’s like learning Latin and finding out there’s nowhere, except a few Catholic churches and the university, to speak it. With all the benefits of learning and knowing Latin, it’s still not a critical business tool. So Latin is its own reward. But, GTD is meant to be the lynch pin of a rich, successful and productive work life.
David Allen apparently believes his company’s core competency is the system he created and a few paper based tools, plus coaching and seminars. The competency does not extend to people using the system. For that you are on your own. It’s like making cream of carrot soup for a family meal, but absenting the bowls, spoons and napkins that make eating it possible. Just dig in everyone!
How often are you leaving out what it will take to use you, your system, product, service, or offering after you get the initial buy in? Offer everything – or partner up and get a trusted provider to offer what you don’t. Don’t falsely believe that once you’ve invented or discovered something – a system, product, proposal, or a new skill you want to sell, that the rest of us will fill in the blanks. Not only do you lose the ancillary revenue, you may lose the buyers you worked to gain.
You lose out when you make it hard on us to have a relationship with you.
Don’t focus on the relationship you want with us, your market. Focus on what we want from you.
Invention is an iterative process. In the best companies and with the best consultants, your customer is your collaborator.