Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why Personal Productivity may be Hard and 'The Corporation' has the answer

Eli has drawn my attention to 'The Corporation'. Shame on me for not knowing and having seen this documentary before (1). One word struck me when I heard it, because it is a topic I wanted to discuss already for quite some time in a different context: Accountability.

What does it have to do with personal productivity then?

I'm involved in quite some thinking about IT and business processes lately. Defining the process is generally easy, the measurement of their performance both from a process as well as a quality/content point of view is much more difficult (2). One thing, though, that is a core component of every step in the process is defining the person who is accountable, which is usually different from the person who is responsible for doing the work. Usually, people use a so-called RACI diagram to define the respective roles for every step in a process or task.

Personal Productivity is all about processes (think GTD, for instance) and personal work flow. Similarly, it's not easy to measure the quality of the process or deliverable. But what really makes personal productivity hard is the fact that one person is both accountable and responsible, or in other words: we have to 'control' our own work.

Maybe that is why we need a personal assistent?

(1) No, I'm not going into the details of the documentary, and I am not commenting on the reasoning of Eli at this time.
(2) No, that is also not what I wanted to talk about now (but will do in the future).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Review: Personal Development for Smart People (Steve Pavlina)

On a sidenote: The past weeks have been completely unproductive when it comes to writing. That does not mean I don't have anything to blog about: My second child was born the end of September and I changed jobs during that period as well. Enough changes for now. Back to business...


I managed to read Personal Development for Smart People (PDfSP) during nightly and early morning hours and I'm happy I did. PDfSP has a special meaning for me in two ways.

First of all, because years ago, when I started my own 'personal development project', I subscribed to a course about Louise Hay's book: 'You can heal your life'. Ten years later, PDfSP is published by Hay House, founded by the same Louise H. as before. That closes the cycle for the first time.

The second reason why PDfSP resonates so well (to use a verb often found in PDfSP) is the quest for the universal foundation of things. Looking for structure in the world that surrounds us. If you've read this post, you know what I'm talking about.

About The Book

I'm not going to review the book in a conventional way, this has been done by many others before me. I would like to connect Steve's book to something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

Let us start with a few questions and answers:
  • Is the book any different from the myriad of self-help books and CDs around? - Yes it is.
  • Is the book for everyone? - Probably not.
  • Do you need to be acquainted with the subject in order to read it? - Not at all, but it helps.

Let me explain...

The reason why the book is probably not for everyone, is exactly the same as why not everyone likes the content of Steve's blog. Let me give an example. For some, 'oneness' is an obvious thing, no doubt about it. For others, being connected to other people sounds completely insane.

It helps to be acquainted with the subject, because at least you know that things like 'oneness', 'law of attraction', life purpose, etc. are a fundamental ingredient of most of quite a lot of books you find in this field.

Book classification

Some time ago, I started to think about a classification of personal development books. Intuitively, I've always thought 'You can heal your life' (by Louise Hay) as being more written towards woman: holistic, intuitive, not everything can be seen or proven, etc. On the other hand, 'The 7 Habits' (by S. Covey) seems to attract more to a male public: logical, analytical, no 'unfounded' messages, etc. For me, they are like prototype of two ways of expressing a personal development message. in other words, their form is different, the core message is often similar.

Coming back to PDfSP, I find it hard to classify it using the above types. (That probably proves that my classification is good!) PDfSP starts out as a male book, with a search for the foundations of personal development, but rather quickly mixes up with female aspects as mentioned earlier.

Final Remarks

If you ask me how I would describe the effect of PDfSP on me, suffice it to say that it hit me. That alone is an accomplishment only few writers have managed to achieve. If you're interested in personal development and looking for some more background and insight, you won't be disappointed. Just keep in mind that the book has 'male and female aspects'.

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