Getting Things Done - the art of efficiency, productivity & organizational clarity
I had the pleasure of attending the GTD summit last week: the inaugural conference arranged by The David Allen Company around the GTD methodology outlined in Allen's book 'Getting Things Done: The art of stress free productivity‘.GTD has gone on to sell over 2 million copies since it was published in 2001 and is available in multiple languages.
GTD has gone on to sell over 2 million copies since it was published in 2001 and is available in multiple languages. The David Allen Company offers a wide range of products based on the core concepts outlined in this widely hailed book, from senior level business coaching to a range of notepads and organizational paraphernalia.
There is also a wide range of software offerings based on the GTD logic.
Coinciding with the GTD Summit was the launch of GTD elearning materials on Ninth House ('learning solutions for large scale behavioral change') for distribution in corporate learning management systems.
I discovered GTD last summer via an enthusiastic friend and have found it very useful in my personal life, and was fascinated to get the opportunity to hear the perspective of others who had found the methodology of enough benefit to them that they flew in from China and other parts of the world for the two day conference. There was a refreshingly broad cross section of attendees compared to the average vertically specialized conference - everything from airforce generals, artists and business execs to geeks, the recently laid off and the entrepreneurial, all united by GTD enthusiasm. Refreshingly there was a good gender mix although most of the panels were stocked with white men.
Conference attendees had the opportunity to hear David Allen in full flight - he's a terrific public speaker - and lots of focused panel discussions. I would have liked to have seen more exposition of how individuals and groups had applied the methodology to specific issues and problems to resolve them - case histories and use cases - but the conference was one of the more interesting I've attended recently and well worth attending.
I recorded the above 30 minute discussion with David earlier today after the conference for 'Open Enterprise 2009' - this wide ranging discussion is primarily about people and processes. Allen believes organizational implementation of GTD bubbles up from individual mastery of the tenets of the discipline: when people are personally grounded and taking responsibility for their actions, responsibility for closing open loops in projects using the process oriented GTD becomes very powerful.
Despite being a heat seeker around new technologies and a gadget enthusiast, David has been clever in not being directly associated with any particular technologies or platforms. The focus of GTD is far more around personal interaction and communication than mechanizing process.
The paradox of GTD is that it is apparently simple, common sense stuff, yet is surprisingly complex to apply. Highly experiential, the only common denominator is your ability to break down life issues into processes that enable problem solving and therefore moving forward. The premise is that regular complete and current inventory taking of commitments, systematically organized and reviewed can sharpen focus and vision, thus making decision making more informed and decisive.
Applying this logic to larger groups has been very in demand - the David Allen Company has trained all types of companies to 'get' GTD on a macro scale.
Email and getting your inbox to zero has long been a GTD staple - where I feel we are slaves to email, waiting to react and process an endless stream of communications, David suggests our lives are mostly around reaction anyway. A long time user of Lotus Notes and Domino databases, there are various email add ons available that help you filter and triage email.
Since Allen joined Twitter as @gtdguy two weeks ago he has been followed by north of ninety five thousand people and rising, which has proved quite a revelation to him.
Nevertheless there is no desire to be part of any cutting edge 2.0 minority trend setters - Allen is savvy in realizing technology is a distant second to the more important incremental process break out needed to Get Things Done. Function follows form, and all functionality from telephones to email to collaboration environments to Twitter are just a process step rather than a nucleus.