Automation of three nails

    While I was working as a programmer, everything was fine.

    When I became the programmers' leader, certain difficulties appeared, but they were overcome.

    When I was put in charge of strategic change, everything became bad. I started to miss .

    Difficulty with tasks

    When I was a programmer, at first all the tasks were set to me by people. Customers, internal users, managers, etc. If everything you need to do is written in the form of tasks, then there are no problems. Just take it and do it. Especially good, if someone puts priorities - you just have to follow them.

    Then, as I developed and gained credibility, I began to set myself tasks myself. I see a problem with the user - I write down the task. I want to make a universal mechanism that quickly solves a group of problems of the same type - I write down the task.

    To perform other people's tasks is easy. Doing tasks assigned to yourself is even easier.

    Then came the subordinates. Users set tasks - either to programmers directly, or to me, and I distributed among the guys. First, there was a small problem - how to get people to perform tasks? It is easy to make yourself, and sometimes there were difficulties with subordinates. These difficulties are easily overcome with simple management and leadership methods.

    When you lead change, it's different. Included unusual management structure, similar to the design and the matrix. The difference between them is small, and more dependent on the view of the changes. If you consider them a project, that is, a target activity limited in time, then there will be a project structure. If you think that change is forever, then a matrix is ​​obtained.

    But both structures have one common feature - nobody obeys you completely. Any employee has a functional manager. For example, the supplier has a purchasing director. The seller has a commercial director, or the head of the product line. And so on.

    And here I am with my changes. The team had people of different positions - managers, ordinary office workers, and people from the production. Someone is willing to spend half the time on participating in the project, some half a day a week, there were also dead souls — those who were simply on the team.

    Difficulties began with the execution of tasks. You tell a person - do this, as part of a change project. Head nods, leaves, but there is no result. You ask at the next meeting - oh, he says, damn, there is no time, there is a lot of main work, we have a dam there, then I’ll do it.

    At first, I thought that such a problem was only with non-managers. In principle, such cases have occurred. For example, when a sales person is in a change project team, but his manager is not, for some reason. The boss simply sabotages the project, which is understandable - who wants to give part of the time to his subordinate, do not understand to whom?

    But it turned out that the leaders included in the change team also behave in a similar way. They also did not perform tasks. It turned out only with very simple instructions that can be done quickly, or in general - on the spot (like "send me your file with a description of the process").

    Tasks, as a management tool, worked reliably. Of course, you could just continue to record them, track the performance and endlessly postpone the dates, and then say that I did everything I could. But I was the project manager of the changes, and I wanted to achieve a result.

    So the problem. Tasks are poorly executed if they are not mandatory. In my case, they were not mandatory in the square. Firstly, they were not supplied by the immediate supervisor. Secondly, do not apply to current activities.

    I had to urgently invent some solution.

    Am I the only one?

    Realizing my problem, I began to notice her in others. First of all, at meetings of leaders.

    Markers served phrases like "So, I remembered, we wanted to do ...", or "Well, this question should be discussed separately ...", "I’ve been saying for three years what to do ...", "By the way, why so far ... "," Wait, we seem to have long decided that you ... ", etc.

    It turned out that in the company there are many issues that are not solved. Most of them had two key features:

    1. there was no formalized task;
    2. questions were about change.

    When the task was assigned to the current activity of a function, then it was usually performed. If the task referred to direct duties only indirectly, then, as a rule, it was dynamic.

    Sometimes tasks were set. While there was no electronic system - they said verbally, approximately what should be done. The task setting, as a rule, contained markers like “Work through the question of ...”, “Discuss with this ...”, “Organize a meeting on the topic ...”, “Analyze the situation for ...”, “Decide on ...”.

    If the task was recorded in a notebook, then it was successfully forgotten. Large corporate notepads are generally a fun way to manage tasks. I wrote down what I said today, turned the page, and you will never return to it.

    When such tasks began to be set through the information system, the executive discipline grew somewhat, but only formally. If a person was assigned the task “Analyze the question of ...”, then the result of the execution was the phrase “Analyzed the question”, and the like.

    Once received such a response, two received, and abandoned. They wrote only what was clear to the tasks - take it there, take it there, report on the performance. And non-task questions were just sometimes voiced, with the same markers like “So, I remembered one question ...”.

    The problem that I discovered in my room turned out to be relevant for the whole company. There are tasks, and there are questions. The tasks are accomplished at the very least, the questions just hang out, sometimes emerging in the memory of the questioner.

    Three nails

    From the fact that the problem is common, and it became even more interesting. Began to more closely observe. Although most of these issues were not solved, there were exceptions. It was necessary to understand which methods work and which do not.

    Somewhere I accidentally met a joke about three nails. I will quote:

    Soviet times. Congress of experience exchange managers. The most advanced chairman-manager is asked:

    - How do you manage to do so much?

    He answers:

    - Very simple! By the method of three nails. I have three nails knocked over the table. When an order or request comes to me, I write it on a piece of paper and hang it on a nail. And I do nothing. When the first reminder arrives, I hang on the second nail. After the second reminder - the third. And only after the third reminder - I start the implementation. However, few orders reach the third nail.

    A joke is a joke, but in fact it was exactly that. The question is suspended, or the task is set - and silence. If the manager remembers and again raises the question, hears in reply “yes, we are engaged, we are not ready yet”, calm down and forget. If you remember again, everything will repeat.

    It turns out, the problem consists of two parts:

    1. remember, or rather not forget;
    2. show perseverance - to reach the third nail and beyond.

    In most situations I saw, both sides of the problem manifested themselves. Some people simply forgot about the questions that they themselves had raised. This is especially true of high leaders who have to keep in mind a huge context - non-binding questions simply fall out of it.

    There were people with a good memory, but with a lack of perseverance. Or excess shyness. They will say once, remind them a second time, and then ... It is inconvenient somehow. Maybe he remembers and does everything? What will I, like a fool, walk and ask again?

    Then an exception caught his eye - a person whose tasks were performed. Long, tedious, with swearing and, sometimes, tears (it was a woman), but performed. I watched her for a while - I wanted to understand how she manages to jump over three nails.

    Tasks and questions

    It turned out that it simply separates tasks and questions, both as entities and as a control algorithm.

    Everything is clear with the tasks - it operated within the framework of the existing information system. Set the task, coordinate the deadline and supervise the execution. Actually, the system itself controlled - for overdue orders the salary decreased.

    But some tasks didn’t get through the system - those are optional. Recipients simply rejected them, with different wording. The coordination of the director is necessary, then “not my responsibility”, then “I will not accept, now there is no time for execution”.

    But the girl was persistent and obligatory, so she began writing out these questions on a piece of paper and carrying her to the meetings with her. And voice at every opportunity.

    Formally, this was not a problem statement. Just a question, or a request, or a request, or a complaint that is rhythmically voiced every week. And, what is most interesting - as a result it turns.

    A rather simple algorithm is obtained:

    1. tasks and questions separately;
    2. tasks live their lives;
    3. questions are always collected in one place, at hand;
    4. it is necessary to voice these questions regularly, regularly;
    5. and then everything will work out.

    It was with this lovely woman that I decided to take an example. I needed to solve a similar problem.

    First attempts

    At first I also tried to use a notebook or a piece of paper, but quickly threw it away.

    First, it grew rapidly — not by adding questions, but by notes and comments. Every time I asked a person for a recapitulation, I made a small note - what he said when he recalled the next time.

    Secondly, it seemed to me inconvenient to keep tasks and questions in different places. One is in the computer, the second is on a piece of paper.

    Thirdly, because of the territorial distribution (4 points scattered around the region), I asked most of the questions on the Internet - email, instant messengers, Skype. The paper in this thread seemed superfluous.

    I decided to look for tools in the system. In those days, it was a modified 1C: Document flow. There is such a function - “Put in control”. In appearance - that is necessary. You take any object, you put on control, you specify the term (to yourself). You can write a comment for yourself. The term is coming up, a notice comes out, you come in, remember, write a letter or message to a person.

    Further options a bit. If it worked with a single nail, then all is well - you stop control. Otherwise, you can move the term of the current control, and add a comment. Uncomfortable - it turns out the same rapidly growing piece of paper, only in electronic form. Another option is to stop this control and launch a new one on the same object. There will be a new comment and a new term. But then it is inconvenient to collect the story - as the question moved through the nails.

    I also tried it through the outlook, but it's even worse there than on a piece of paper and in 1C. As a result, made a simple automation.


    Automation is hard to call - work for a couple of hours. But the importance of the problem being solved set aside doubts like “no, everything cannot be so simple.”

    I liked the idea of ​​putting any object in control, and I also implemented it.

    But there was a small problem - in which objects to write down these questions for control? In the task? To whom? To myself? They will interfere in the general list of tasks.

    As a result, he created a simple object, which he called - “Questions for control”.

    Next is what I lacked in 1C: Document circulation - sequential control, overcoming any number of nails. You can attach an arbitrary number of mini-tasks with mini-reports, deadlines and performance marks to any controlled object.

    At first it seemed strange to me to make some kind of record about the control, but then, in actual practice, I found that in a month I could not remember what exactly I wanted to do, with whom to talk, how it all ended last time, etc. Therefore, a small note, after all, is needed.

    Now, for each controlled question, the whole story of hanging from nail to nail was collected.

    It turned out to be very convenient to use the history of control, personally. Immediately, the head began to get rid of questions that had to be either kept in my head, or copied from paper to paper, or copied from one control point to another. The time has come - you come in, look, quickly remember and remind.

    In order not to miss the control points, I made a simple mold that collects all the points on one screen.

    For each object, the last control point is displayed with its time limit. Also, there is a link to previous control points. The coloring is simple:

    1. green - everything is good, the period of control has not yet arrived;
    2. red - the term has already passed;
    3. purple - idle control when the deadline is not set and the task is not recorded.

    Actually, everything. What I have in control, how I use it, what tasks and deadlines I set myself - is visible only to me. Well, I started to use.


    I quickly became like the girl with whom I took the example. Questions important to me, too, were fulfilled. Moreover, it does not matter what kind of person we are talking about - the storekeeper or the owner.

    There were some differences in the phrases and texts that we used during the reminder. So I had the whole history of control at hand, then I added “in general, the question has been hanging for a month now” and “the last time you said ...”, well, or “you have already said the same thing 3 times in a row”. Metrics in general. How many nails are overcome, when, and under what circumstances.

    Funny people reacted. At first they were amazed, smiled and did what I asked for. Apparently, it was so unusual that the question was outweighed by at least the second nail, which helped out of one interest.

    Then they realized that I was up to something or using some trick, and began to resist. Probably, they thought that they would not reach the third nail, they just got some annoying.

    And then when the fourth, fifth, etc. went. nails, resigned and began to help. Some asked what I had in mind, and how much I became so stubborn. I said that I write down questions on a piece of paper.

    Reluctance was to explain that the problem of three nails is solved very simply. Maybe you decide it in the same way too? Or you do not have such a problem?

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