Category Archives: Productivity

Zero Email at ATOS Origin – How is the company doing?

I recall the ATOS Origin announcement at the end of 2011, stating their intent to abandon email communication between its employees over an 18-month period.

They called it Zero Email, and trademarked the term. From their website:

The volume of emails we send and receive is unsustainable for business. It is estimated that managers spend between 5 and 20 hours a week just reading and writing emails.

Having gone past the half-way point, I’m wondering how they’re doing.

Does anyone know?

Anyone from ATOS Origin willing to shed some light on this? 

Would greatly appreciate your comments.

Image from the ATOS Origin company website

A few questions to think about on your way home after work

  • Did I start my day today on the basis of a plan?
  • If so, what was it? (If not, why didn’t I have a plan?)
  • Were there any differences between my plan and today’s events / outcomes?
  • How could I have have been of better service to others?
  • What’s my plan for tomorrow?
The word “plan” is used loosely. It can be a work schedule, calendar appointments, action list, or notes describing intended outcomes for the day.

Edwin C. Bliss and “Getting Things Done”

I have a lot of respect – and time – for the work of Edwin C. Bliss. He worked as a business consultant, author, and time management expert in the 1970s/80s (and possibly beyond).

I read two of his books over the past few months. Even though they are obviously dated in some ways, both of them i thought were excellent. (References are at the bottom of this post.) His third, and last, book is on its way to me in the post, and i can’t vouch for it yet.

E.C. Bliss writes eloquently, with humour, originality, and the information presented is well-researched with ample references.

His written work resonates remarkably well with David Allen’s productivity method “Getting Things Done” (2003), for instance:

1. Edwin C. Bliss published a book titled Getting Things Done in 1976. This was nearly 27 years before David Allen’s first publication under the same name. Allen has trademarked Getting Things Done & GTD since.

2. In his book Doing It Now (1984), Bliss advocated dividing a project into “a series of tiny tasks, each of which, considered separately, is manageable.” David Allen, also strongly argued that office work should be converted into smaller steps called “widgets” each of which represents a small step in the right direction.

3. Bliss recommended having a weekly review to monitor work progress. This corresponds to the 4th stage in David Allen’s 5 Stages of Mastering Workflow called Review.

4. Bliss strongly believed in list building and he stressed this regularly in his writings. Lists are the condicio sine qua non of GTD, too.

5. Bliss was a proponent of writing things down (e.g. “A pencil and piece of paper are two of the most powerful tools of time management”). David Allen often talked about “distributed cognition,” but that’s only different in name.

6. Bliss quotes William James as “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” David Allen puts it as “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

7. Bliss describes the “three D’s” when handling work: “Do it, Delegate it, or Ditch it.” David Allen also identifies three options when processing actions: “Do it, Delegate it, or Defer it”.

I’d still highly recommend the books of Bliss.

Further reading:

The Case for Seven (and not just Six) Thinking Hats

I’ve mentioned the Six Thinking Hats method a couple of times on this blog (references at the bottom of this post).

In short: it’s a fantastic method for group decision-making, among other things.

Here’s a great post by the School of Thinking on the Six Thinking Hats method – and why we should have a Seventh one:

It makes total sense to me…

Related posts:

Outside the inbox


With thanks to Pablo Moreno for sharing this.

In my view, merely swapping a closed messaging system (email) for a relatively open one (social networks) is not that groundbreaking.

I’m personally more interested to see how we can optimise our consumption of digital content so that it helps rather than hinders us.

But that’s a different discussion altogether ;)

Busy mind? Buy a Buddha stature!

The sudden rise in popularity of Buddha statues in our Western culture never ceases to amaze me.

Most department stores these days have a fine collection for sale. And they seem to get bigger and better. The one shown below – from downtown Amsterdam – I can assure you was rather heavy.

Got your head screwed on the right way?

As is usually the case with implied symbolism it’s hard to get a clear definition of the underlying message.

But the popularity of Buddha statues doesn’t seem to be linked to Westerners actually practicing Buddhism. It’s still a minority religion overhere.

I think one shade of meaning is linked to people looking for symbols representing serenity and calm, because they’re so incredibly busy themselves.

Since the much-needed role-models are hard to find within our own social circle – even grandparents are busy nowadays! – we turn elsewhere.

So here’s a religious artefact from an entirely different culture, referring to a scene that allegedly took place 2,500 years ago underneath a fig tree in the Far East.

It’s universally understood that this man had an unshakeable mind, and that’ll do, thank you very much.

It’s an entire way of living for millions of people over thousands of years being reduced to essentially a sound-bite. It’s the Twitterfication of ideas.

Trouble is, symbolism doesn’t work in the long run.

We’re much better off actually doing something about our causes of pain and discontent.

For instance, learn the skills needed to navigate today’s hyper-dynamic world without losing your head (if you pardon the pun).

Act rather than react.

I’m sure Siddhārtha Gautama (a.k.a. the Buddha) would agree ;-)

Questions anyone?

This is the sequel to my post ‘When seeing becomes noticing‘.

I particularly want to go back to the closing statement in the post made by the character of Sherlock Holmes:

I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see.

To me a key question is: How can you train yourself to notice more?

This is where I find questions to be of vital importance. It’s an area that intrigues me a lot.

I’m in the process – along with a smart business partner ;) – of putting together an interesting offering around developing the ability to ask better Questions.

After all, asking the right questions at the right time can have a tremendously positive impact on one’s productivity. So it fits neatly with what we do here at Workplace Prosperity.

O before you go… you might want to spend 1’16” on this Tony Robbins video on the Power of Questions: