Removing white noise from your organisation

Removing white noise from your organisation

One of the great challenges of the workplace today is easy to understand, but difficult to overcome. How do you reduce distractions, and do a lot of deep work.

At OHNO, we spend as much time in flow states as we can, and this is something we actively reflect on and talk about. The goal is to really focus in on the task at hand. This was really important to Poe and I – so we made it one of our core values. We are not an organisation that is enthusiastic about meetings, and walking around the office distracting others all day.

The fact our product, OHNO, also helps teams focus on their goals, and identify whats stopping the reaching them, it’s equally reflective of how we feel about focus in organisations.

So I thought I’d shed some light on how OHNO actually helps with this particular problem.

How to focus on whats important?

The basic premise of OHNO is simple. It lifts performance in teams by prompting you to think of the barriers that’s stopping you from reaching your mission, objectives, and upholding the values that are important.

It sends you 1 question, roughly once a week, and just asks you.

There is another(perhaps more common) way that organisations seek ideas from their teams. They ask for open-ended suggestions. Let’s take the following example.

Let’s say Acme Corp is a software company and they want to hear what ideas the company (of which there are 50 people) have to improve the organisation. 50 People is a lot, and all 50 will have very different ideas about what the company should look like, and where each department should be headed.

When you ask for ideas from that many people, they each have a very specific vision for the business (and their teams) in their heads. Those visions will reflect the story of every person. One person who may have had a terrible experience with management hierarchy in the past will see a vision of a flat style organisation. Another, may have been brought up loving to read books on Strategy, so they will suggest ideas that perhaps relate to the organisation having a clear sense of strategy.

The downside to this situation is that although some may be right, you can’t take all those suggestions on.

You’re then left to let people down by ignoring those suggestions, or coming up with reasons why they won’t work at Acme corp. This might be fine, but most people will feel their ideas and opinions don’t matter to you. If you ask for ideas, you better be prepared to deal with the fall out of not taking them on.

So we changed the way this works.

Every idea, action and problem we capture inside OHNO relates to 3 things

Your mission

Your objectives

and your values

What this means is we cut out huge volumes of white noise from the organisation. When OHNO asks for ideas that get you closer to your objective, it is hard to respond with “We need more ping pong tables or more flavoured mineral water in the kitchen.”

OHNO helps keep teams focused on the important stuff – and over time, this leads to an organisation that’s all rowing in the same direction, but most importantly, rowing towards things that count.

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