The genius hour is now an emerging trend in education that encourages students to learn based on their passion, background, and interests. It is considered less formal and less standardized than traditional approaches in learning.
Jen Schneider discussed how genius hour works in her article on EdSurge. The concept began with Daniel Pink’s notion of what drives people at work. He said that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are intrinsic motivators needed in the 21st century.
He cited Atlassian and how they had a FedEx day at work as an example of applying autonomy in the workplace. The employees are given 24 hours to work on something they want to, with a team they want to work with, and ship it after the allotted time. It was initially called FedEx day because they have to deliver innovation “overnight.” Since 2005, the program has been called ShipIt. Atlassian’s ShipIt is continuously done and has been modified further to adapt to a remote-working culture in the advent of the pandemic.
Pink explored Richard Ryan and Edward Deci’s self-determination theory of motivation in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” In their studies, Ryan and Deci discovered that people who worked on a problem-solving task without incentives finished it faster than people who were told they would get payment for their work.
Ryan and Deci concluded that intrinsic motivation, or motivation that originates from personal interest, has more impact than extrinsic motivation, which depends on external rewards, like payment or recognition.
With freedom and dedicated innovation time, learners are able to set their own goals and pace and at the same time boost a genuine love for learning. In an employee’s case, the genuine hour as dedicated innovation time might be a way to build or rebuild a genuine love for what they do.
How can other organizations or even individuals implement their own genius hour and deliver results?
How to Implement the Genius Hour
In the context of education, the genius hour allows students to dedicate one hour per week to work on something that they are passionate about. However, Schneider emphasized that students must follow these three rules:
- “start with an essential question that cannot be answered with a simple Google search”
- “research the question using reputable websites, interviews, and/or print resources”
- “create something – the product may be digital, physical, or service-oriented.”
The rules are lenient as well on the side of Atlassian. Their challenge for every ShipIt day is to drop everything work-related and identify and solve other problems of any kind and any size by working with a team of your choice.
The end results or products are then awarded accordingly. Atlassian is known to be a technical organization, but it does not limit the ShipIt days to only technical problems and solutions. Therefore, the event becomes inclusive and brings out the innovators in everyone.
There is no single formula for becoming the leader of the future. Every organization has its own culture, structure, and transformation journeys. But what happens in between the stages of change is where we realize we are going through the same struggles.
Leaders who are not yet adapting to those needs would still find themselves rethinking their style because they can’t stop their environment and people’s behavior from evolving. Here are some of the common principles and practices for the leader of the future.
Practice empathy and empowerment. “As I understood it, many people were struggling at home because of the situation of the crisis that surrounded us. And I have to admit that I was also struggling at home. I think all of us were, one way or the other. So, it’s a question of being empathetic and trying to put yourself in the shoes of your colleagues,” Xavi Ballesteros, who is a Cambridge English Country Director in Spain and Portugal, said during a Q&A forum held by the Cambridge University Press.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cater, Managing Director of CEM, shared that she assessed their communication pattern and looked more closely into what empowerment could offer in return. What she did was “making sure that things can happen without me being in the room, because there are so many projects that we’ve been working on over the last few months and needing an approval from me on everything wouldn’t work. So, trying to understand how to engender empowerment across the teams has been a focus as well.”
Communicate with employees constantly. “The main challenge is to make colleagues work throughout the company and to manage different time zones,” Monica Marchis, Research Director of AMSI, told PERFORMANCE Magazine. “We have one-on-one weekly meetings with all team members and regular meetings with the team for an overview of all work done individually. This way, we enable perspective and recognition and ensure support. In order to gain coherence, a corporate governance project has been initiated and a job evaluation project for internal equity has been done.”
Create new strategies for virtual meetings. According to The Economist, before the pandemic, managers were spending almost 23 hours weekly attending meetings. After the pandemic, barriers that keep people apart increased and organizations have to come up with new ways of running a meeting. Organizations can consider the following techniques:
- Designate an amount of time for each topic, and once the time is up, the timer will ring and participants can move on to the next subject matter.
- Write follow-up action notes that can be seen immediately in the meeting rather than sending the list via email.
- Set positive communication rules, such as allowing presenters to finish their statements before commenting and encouraging participants to speak up.
- Have an additional break after each presentation in a meeting.
- Come up with creative icebreakers.
- Develop interactive and visually appealing presentations.
- When there is a new meeting platform, perform trial runs with attendees to familiarize them with the functions.
Prioritize productivity over multitasking. One useful technique to assess serial-tasks and avoid multitasking is the Pomodoro Technique. It proposes working in a hyper-productive rhythm for 20 minutes without distractions. For managers still working in a hybrid environment, dedicating 20 uninterrupted minutes to a task seems reasonable rather than an entire one hour. Dividing the time into short bursts allows the brain to fully concentrate. At the end of the day, it seems more productive than a day spent multitasking.
Make individual strengths shine. If the pandemic taught us one thing in the organizational environment, it is that individuals have different needs and respond differently. To win over the actual context, the manager needs to balance shared team commitments and the unique needs and strengths of individuals. In the opposite corner, the one-size-fits-all method will erase the possible shining contributions of individuals. With this, managing a diverse team means the ability to shield performance from drawbacks.
Keep it real. A potential leadership crunch can also be avoided by looking at the technique of trading perfectionism for compassion. Before COVID happened, a good day meant being able to submit all assignments and attend all meetings. The post-pandemic work life paints it differently. For working parents, it got even more difficult as they have to get the children accommodated with homeschooling while attending virtual meetings. This does not imply falling short of one’s own standards, but becoming more reasonable when it comes to the number of tasks they can accomplish.
If you’d like to boost your personal performance as an individual and a leader, check out The KPI Institute’s Personal Performance Professional Certification course.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” — Zig Ziglar
When the cost of managing and measuring your performance is less than the tragic risk of hitting nothing, it pays to get your KPIs right.
KPIs, or key performance indicators, can prove that success is a result of not just one huge undertaking but a series of actions. These actions are taken by decision-makers that consistently rely on data rather than guesswork.
In this guide, you will learn the basics and benefits of KPIs and beyond. Explore the top articles, webinars, reports, and other materials produced by The KPI Institute, a leading global research institute specializing in business performance and KPI research for over 17 years.
- What Is a Key Performance Indicator?
- Why Companies Should Use KPIs
- KPI Examples
- Applying the KPI Best Practices
- The KPI Measurement Framework
What Is a Key Performance Indicator?
The definition of a KPI, according to The KPI Institute, is “a measurable expression for the achievement of a desired level of results in an area relevant to the evaluated entity’s activity.”
13 Elements of a Good Key Performance Indicator
“If a decision support system is put in place, users need the right data granularity and the guidelines or context for making the right decisions. All of these reasons have an underlying story, and top-performing organizations are able to clearly communicate that story to their employees.”
[Watch] The Relationship Between Strategic Objectives, KPIs, and Initiatives
“As performance management & measurement is shaping up as a fundamental capability for organizations across the globe, there are still multiple challenges to be overcome.”
Why Companies Should Use KPIs
Top Six Reasons to Start Using Key Performance Indicators
“Nowadays, the challenge is not about accessing information, as most companies are managing large volumes of data. The challenge is to decide which data is the most important for decision making.”
[Listen] Performance Management and KPIs: Past, Present, & Future
“What have been some of the changes that the Performance Management field has experienced over time? What are some one-size-fits-all style KPIs that any company can employ?”
[Watch] Winning with KPIs: Optimizing PMS Implementation
Discover the role of KPIs in designing a rigorous Performance Management System (PMS) to ensure an optimized implementation across all organizational levels.
Applying the KPI Best Practices
[Watch] Key Performance Indicators: The Core of Performance Management Systems
Compare KPIs and other performance evaluation criteria, identify the common KPI pitfalls, and discover how to use KPIs to create synergies between departments.
How Can We Ensure Our KPIs Are Aligned With the Strategy?
“In many cases, the key performance indicators (KPIs) monitored do not seem relevant as they are not connected to the strategy. To better understand how this problem can be addressed, we must first identify its possible causes.”
[Watch] Overcoming KPI Selection Challenges: Applying KPI Selection Techniques
“What are the most important guidelines to follow when selecting KPIs for strategic objectives? What are the most efficient KPI Selection techniques, most recommended KPI selection environments, and some Value Flow Analysis technique examples?”
The KPI Measurement Framework
How to Implement a KPI Measurement Framework
“A KPI implementation project plan provides a structure for the implementation of an organization’s performance management system. Once the project plan is set, all types of activities would have a clear deadline and designated responsibilities.”
Project Plan: Developing a Performance Management System Based on KPIs
“When formalizing and implementing a performance management system (PMS) based on key performance indicators (KPIs), there are multiple activities to be considered and many stakeholders to be engaged in the process. Therefore, you’ll need a project plan to make performance management an ongoing process within your organization.”
How Can You Improve the Data Gathering Process for Your KPIs?
“An important component of performance measurement is represented by the data collection capability. However, when applied in the organizational context, this process is neither easy nor lacking obstacles, as practitioners often discover.”
[Watch] KPI Selection Techniques
“Learn how KPI selection techniques can be implemented in practice and gain insights into the best practices for selecting KPIs.”
Advice on KPI Selection
“KPI selection is a process which seems simple, yet is inherently complex, due to the interdependencies involved. Here are 15 things to consider before embarking on this journey.”
How Can You Improve Key Performance Indicator Reporting?
“Just reporting performance data will not ensure the improvement of results. Improvement is only possible when decisions are made based on the insights provided by data.”
KPIs are not just about understanding and working with numbers. Using KPIs requires stakeholders to fulfill a vision and commit to ensuring success across all levels of their organization. If you would like to learn how to select the right KPIs for your organization, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner live online course today.
Technology shapes patterns of human activity in every aspect of life. Undoubtedly, the transformative impact of digital technology requires individuals, businesses, and organizations to constantly adapt to new systems and applications to use them effectively and mitigate risks related to techno-stress creators.
Digital Technologies in the Professional Environment
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are essential to the workplace. Organizations are dependent on digital technology. Work-related use of ICTs offers a myriad of benefits to organizations, provides organizations with opportunities to optimize business processes, improves efficiency and productivity, reduces costs, shapes the patterns of information processing and innovation patterns, and assists a wide range of online services.
Moreover, work-related usage of ICTs can positively impact job performance and virtual team effectiveness. ICTs provide continuous connectivity. Colleagues can easily communicate without restraints of location and time. In parallel with the advances in ICTs, telecommuting has become increasingly prevalent around the world. Consequently, not having to commute has reduced the costs and time spent in traveling.
The impact of digital technology in professional environments on work practices and habits manifests in work performance, how employees connect, and how they think and act. Despite numerous advantages created by the effective use of ICTs, there can also be challenges and negative outcomes. The human brain’s cognitive performance and attentional behaviors are affected by being exposed to information technologies.
ICT-induced challenges in professional environments are referred to as techno-stressors. Being constantly available and techno-overload can cause techno-stress, and they are usually associated with the work-related use of ICTs.
Advances in ICTs allow for constant connectivity and work independent of time and location. In this context, employees may find separating work and non-work life difficult. Techno-invasion due to work-related ICTs after working hours makes employees vulnerable elevated levels of work stress, diminished work performance, and life invasion. Additionally, always-on work culture and constant connectivity make employees feel forced to be available and easily reached via e-mail, the Internet, or mobile devices. Consequently, employees tend to work longer due to ICTS-induced expectations for faster response and dealing with multiple tasks simultaneously.
Techno-overload occurs when employees get occupied with too many different tasks simultaneously or are constantly interrupted by ICT applications. As a result, they may feel obliged to work faster and more due to increasing demands and expectations.
The impact of digital technology on attentional behaviors steams from its design. Through the multi-windows design, users can navigate through several folders, documents, programs, and browser tabs that are simultaneously open. This multi-windows design translates into switching attention between multiple activities in a short period. In other words, technology-induced multitasking results in attentional switching.
Similarly, due to mobile devices and collaborative workspace chat and videoconferencing applications, employees face a multitude of interruptions and streams of real-time information that may foster information overload and fragmentation of attention, making maintaining attention on the task at hand difficult.
The main problems associated with techno-stressors include leading to attentional and cognitive deficits, provoking anxiety, fatigue, and low performance.
Virtual Meeting Fatigue
As a new popular term, Zoom fatigue has become widely used to describe emotional, psychological, and physical lack of energy resulting from spending too much time in front of screens while video conferencing. Video conferencing fatigue appears to be the new form of techno-stress underlining challenges in adaptation to modern technologies due to overutilization of technology and lack of healthy coping strategies with techno stressors and ICT-induced demands.
There is a set of factors contributing to Zoom fatigue: video conferencing involves different ways of communication with prolonged eye contact, limited non-verbal cues and body gestures, and difficulty in focusing during discussions, and additional cognitive load. Moreover, asynchronicity of communication is listed among contributing factors that lead to increased cognitive efforts, frustration, and stress.
Although advances in ICTs provide organizations with instruments to increase productivity by saving time and energy, studies suggest that overuse of ICTs results in more than 25% of the general working population suffering from fatigue and emotional exhaustion.
Techno-stress leads to lower work performance and productivity, reduced job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. To mitigate such undesired consequences, businesses search for solutions to ease techno-stress. An increasing number of organizations recognize that employee well-being is crucial to high performance and thus integrate well-being initiatives into their work.
People’s time and attention are finite resources. ICTs can increase productivity in the short term. However, such gains can be undermined by increased cognitive load and lower productivity, performance, and well-being in the long term.
At an individual level, some of the strategies that can be applied to mitigate the overwhelming side effects of excessive ICT use are practicing strategic attention n order to reduce loss of time and the fragmentation of attention; prioritizing urgent communications and postponing less relevant communications; and utilizing applications to organize information storage and block distractions.
Finally, individual employees should ensure that they get adequate rest to counter ongoing psychical and emotional exhaustion. Techno-stressors, along with long virtual meetings, can trigger sensory overload. Sensory rest, taking mindful moments of sensory deprivation, can also be helpful.
Designing and implementing a Performance Management System (PMS) based on performance measurement tools such as key performance indicators (KPIs) is a thorough step-by-step process. It requires effective management of all the phases of the implementation process and proper allocation of responsibilities to all the stakeholders involved. With this, the KPI implementation project plan lays emphasis on conducting KPI selection workshops.
Whether or not the PMS within your organization is comprehensive, KPIs can be measured across organizational layers: Corporate/Organizational, Divisional, Departmental, or Individual/Employee levels in accordance with the organizational context. For these performance indicators to be measured in standardized tools, such as a balanced scorecard, they need to be selected, and such selection should occur during dedicated meetings.
Such meetings require the attendance of specifically allocated stakeholders to provide constructive insights and foster a corporate community culture based on continuous improvement. As a line of practice, the participants of these workshops hold positions, such as department heads, strategists, performance analysts, members of the performance management office, and allocated members of the Board, all based on their availability. Note that other members could attend the workshops as per company practice. Attendance at these important meetings requires an invitation, though.
The invitation is a crucial, pre-workshop phase, as it sets the tone, pace, and mindset of the delegates who will join the event. Such invitation is generally in the form of an email with quite some content and attached materials. The email aims to provide contextualization and reasoning behind the request to certain members of the organization to attend the workshops. It is a request that comes from the Strategy Office or the Performance Management Office or whoever oversees the Performance Management practices in the organization, at least two to three weeks in advance of the date of the event.
What should be included in the KPI selection workshops invitation?
- Brief introduction about the upcoming workshop;
- Logistical information such as date, time, and location of the event;
- Detailed KPI selection workshop agenda;
- Reading materials and corporate documentation attached
What are the key documents to be attached to mentally prepare our participants and make this workshop a success?
- As a line of practice, it is recommended to share educational materials, prepared by the Performance Management Office, related to KPI selection, KPI Alignment practices, and Performance Measurement and Management tools. The delegates, whether or not they are practitioners in the field, are invited to go through the materials;
- Strategic and Performance Management tools linked to previous performance cycles, such as Corporate Strategy Plan, Organizational Scorecards, Dashboards, and Portfolio of Initiatives, must be included.
- In certain organizational contexts, a written note from top management and C-Suites may be added in order to highlight one factor: The involvement and support of top management in the design and implementation of the framework. This note could be very beneficial buy-in wise as well.
Setting the right tone and mindset in preparation for the workshop is very much advised. The delegates, especially after the workshops occur, will act as champions in disseminating knowledge and replicating the KPI best practices in their respective departments. Furthermore, it will support the ultimate purpose of securing the much-required buy-in from middle managers and employees across departments towards the PMS design.
If you would like to learn more about KPI selection practices and the follow-up activities to the KPI selection workshops, we kindly invite you to sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner training course. It will lead you through all the phases of the KPI implementation project plan.
Wishing you the best of performance!