A Brief (American) History of Time Management

Juni 22nd, 2011

Inc. Magazine is giving a wrap-up of important milestones in Time Management – from a US-American point of view.

Inc. Logo

13 slides show books like Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive or David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Tim Ferriss stands for the more recent approaches – The 4-Hour Workweek.

Combined trends: folding bikes and planning on paper

August 28th, 2009

While I was preparing for a 1-day workshop on selfleadership I was (time and again) reflecting about the right instruments for self organization. Obviously there is a trend back to paper when it comes to quick and easy ways of planning, jotting down notes, or scibbling strange ideas. The resurrection of personal organizers (e.g., by filofax) or the variety of Moleskine notebooks (you can personalize those, too) and their lookalikes are clear signs we could watch for years now.
How is the typical business day of leaders and „leading people“, such as freelancers, artists, or consultants? Where do they actually work – and how? Sitting in a BALZAC coffee shop in Hamburg and watching the scenery I saw this prototypical bicyclist:
Woman on folding bike

For sure she was not carrying a large notebook computer in her briefcase – I bet she is using a personal organizer… Have a look at these folding bikes as well in WIRED, Youtube, or FAST COMPANY.
Of course, this combination of tools is not a new phenomenon – in point of fact it gets more and more common, even in smaller cities.
What keeps me busy is the question under which circumstances and with which tools these target groups can actually improve their selfleadership. For analyzing their habits, for the recognition of personal patterns of behaviour, and for keeping track of their vision and mission they might need a highly individualized set of methods and tools. For sure, this has to be a combination of those instruments they already use – such as BlackBerries or iPhones, small computers, paper notebooks, pieces of paper, etc. – blended is such a way that it not only supports their output but adds to their appearance/looks, too…

Here is the Book: The Art Of Selfleadership (in German, sorry)

August 13th, 2009

The German Version of my book is out (http://www.amazon.com/Kunst-Selbstf%C3%BChrung-German-Burkhard-Bensmann/dp/3837095673/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1250166505&sr=8-1). With a big book release party we celebrated this event on May 12th. More than 120 people came together, 30 of them interviewees for the book.


Fields of Self-Leadership: Processes & Structures

Januar 20th, 2009

Sixty Interviews with leaders and „leading people“ have been conducted and I am continuing to write the book on Self-Leadership. Regarding the methods and instruments of self organization one insight is obvious: the most fascinating tool is worthless if you do not really know how to use it, and it makes no difference if it is a classic paper organizer or a BlackBerry. As a result of my conversations I have come to the realization that successful leaders choose methods and instruments which fit them and which they really can handle – without following a fashion or trend.
Although I found a couple of positive examples for good self-organization there is still room for improvement.
Processes & Structures
For an effective self-organization it is highly important to be aware of ones own (working) processes and to integrate these into suitable structures. Key questions are:
–    How do I organize myself?
–    Which kind of structures do I apply to my work?
–    Which helpful habits can I develop?
–    Which methods do I actually use for time management, creativity, projects, etc.?
The interviews have shown that self-leadership will only be successful when leaders realize their abilities and potentials and when they continue to develop these assets. With reference to the processes and structures of worklife it is of primary concern to know ones own duties and responsibilities. Based upon those are the daily tasks I have to focus.

Although it is a workflow like the production of goods in their companies, most leaders do not strictly check their personal processes and structures. The analysis of their duties and tasks – like checking their daily time budget – might supply some transparency. A simple visualization of the flow of their activities might open their eyes and show some counter-productive routines, suboptimal processes, and unnecessary interruptions.

In my point of view it is essential to do an in-deep analysis of your own work processes and structures and I suggest checking the following:

To reach my vision and /or goals:
•    Which processes
•    in which structures
•    with which methods
•    using which instruments
•    do or will I have to coordinate and successfully put to work?
•    And which results do I achieve (controlling the outcome?

Art For Business 2008 – First Impressions and Text

November 13th, 2008

Art For Business 2008 in Milano has started today and I really had to struggle to understand at least a little bit of the keynote speakers at the opening (because everything was in Italian…).
As a preparation for my ex-cathedra-speech tomorrow I will put a download of my text here: Self-Leadership as an art.
My key points are:
1.    Change Agents should learn, test, and use mind-sets, methods, and instruments from the world of art to shift context and perspective.
2.    Lots of successful leaders in business already use skills, approaches, and mind-sets similar to those of artists. And SELF-LEADERSHIP is an art in itself.
3.    To find out how we can “use art” in human capital development we should scrutinize, maybe test, the life and oeuvre of artists.

Especially concerning the last point I suggest to take a look at the text on How to survive as an artist (about Duchamp as a role model) to which I refer in my speech in the Art For Business Forum session. If you are interested to know more about it you might as well want to take a look at my Squidoo-Lenses

And finally for some of my ongoing gymnastics in the world of art see my laboratorio-pages.

AFB Opening

Mission … is possible

November 12th, 2008

My project on SELF-LEADERSHIP is entering its final state. Most of the scheduled interviews have been conducted and there are some key findings. Obviously, a predominate skill of successful people is their ability to be in the present, in the here and now. They possess inner clarity, know their state of being, and they have put aside their “ego” – they are able to be present. With this I do not mean them just showing up inside an organization but rather their inner presence, their uncoupling from old habits and patterns of thinking and perception. The interviews have delivered lots of hints towards this special ability. The importance of “presence” has been proved by numerous publications, some in the field of organizational or personal development. Peter Senge, author of the groundbreaking book “The Fifth Discipline” goes into depth on this topic in his newer publication, “Presence. Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations And Society“, created together with his co-authors.

Mission Vision

In addition to this, successful leaders  know or at least guess their personal mission, have a concept or sometimes a vision of what they want to create in their lifetime – their mission. Where do intuition or the knowing of one’s own mission come from? At least for some of the leaders it is the case that they see themselves deeply rooted religiously or spiritually. Others obviously have a humanistic foundation for their lives. A couple of the interviewees have had very distinct mental images of their goals and objectives which accompanied them in different steps of their career. For some leaders these images were so tangible in ways that they focused on a specific position until they actually reached it. Not only pictures of a future personal career, but plans for whole companies have been brought to life with the help of visions.

Some more interviews will follow. As the data collected so far was sufficient I already started writing the book about SELF-LEADERSHIP. Nevertheless, I will continue to inform about key findings in this blog.

Art For Business in Milano

November 4th, 2008

I will present some key findings of my project SELF-LEADERSHIP at the ART FOR BUSINESS FORUM (Nov. 13-15, Milano). If you are interested in my CV in Italian: here.  The congress is again promoted and facilitated by trivioquadrivio of Milan. Catch a glimpse on my theses for the panel discussion:Theses Art For Business Forum 2008
Logo AFB 2008

Interviews For The Self-Leadership Project: Final Spurt

Juni 30th, 2008

Some key findings:

  • In connection with Self-Leadership, classic values and virtues have a great importance for lots of the interviewees. Furthermore, the nearly fifty conducted conversations show that rituals and rhythms play a particularly important role.
  • There are different degrees of personal freedom and self-determination for the leaders I have interviewed, but whatever degree there is, Self-Leadership requires realizing one’s freedom and leeway and actually taking advantage of it to unfold a vision or mission.
  • Technical instruments, such as BlackBerrys or PDAs, play a subordinate role – interestingly „planning on paper“ has a high priority for various leaders.

After a lot of travelling, both in Germany and in Italy, I am still struggling to get some more interviews with leading women. I was very lucky – and happy – to get the chance for a conversation with Susanne Höhn, managing director of the Goethe-Institutes in Italy. However, there are some frustrations in connection with this project of mine, too: another appointment in Rome with a top leader was cancelled in the short term. But Self-Leadership also means to make the most of any given situation – so I had the chance to sip an espresso macchiato on the Campo dei Fiori, watching the clean-up ritual.

Campo dei Fiori


Juni 30th, 2008

Transition II

Transition II (2007, Sept./Nov.)

In memory of my aunt Ursula Heinrichs who passed away on June, 13.

(How to write) A Personal Mission Statement

Juni 30th, 2008

The German Blog imgriff.com is collecting some good ideas about how to find your personal Mission Statement. The author, Ivan Blattner, shows some how-to instruments, such as The Mission Statement Builder by Steven Covey or Tina Su’s 15 Questions To Discover Your Personal Mission .
These, in turn, are helpful methods for my Self-Leadership model, especially when it comes to answer key questions of the central field, MISSION / FUTURE.


NYC, June 2007 (Photo: BB)