In-house Issues: Gum Chewing Strategies

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Running an in-house department is like trying to build an airplane while it’s already in flight. You’re putting out fires all day long to the point where “proactive” starts to sound like a 4-letter word. How can any of us possibly have the time or the energy to tackle big-picture issues when we’re dealing with unreasonable deadlines, inferior infrastructure, garbled revision requests and corporate politics?

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Well, I’m here to tell you, I have seen it done. It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. None of the suggestions below are earth shattering or a complete solution by themselves. It’s not quite that simple or easy. But, with a mix of equal parts discipline, passion, and ingenuity, you can address strategic issues such as the creation of SOPs, self-promotional materials and position descriptions. If you don’t –well then just make sure you keep a fire hose handy at all times…

  • Prioritize your paradigm-changing projects using 2 criteria – the payoff and how much time and resources you’d need to devote to a particular initiative
  • Assemble a support group of co-workers, professional colleagues and friends for moral support and inspiration
  • Set aside a half hour every other day at either the beginning or the end of the day to work on big picture issues – make sure you tell your boss what you’re up to and why
  • Work off site on proactive activities 1 day a week every other week (again with the boss’ blessing)
  • Go off site for lunch 2 days a week to focus on high-level projects
  • If you’re guilty of spending even 10 minutes of every day complaining how bad things are at work – stop doing it and use that time for strategic planning
  • Delegate some of the tasks to your co-workers but allow them specified times to devote to your requests
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel – check out web sites, books and magazines that may have information, templates, advice etc. that you can leverage
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel déjà vu – reach out to colleagues at other companies and mine them for valuable insights

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