ADVICE

Take Action and Boost Teamwork with the ‘Unless I Hear Differently’ Strategy

Mihir Patkar
When working in a team, a lot of time is wasted in asking questions about the exact details of the task to be accomplished and getting approvals. Apart from being a major time-drain, it also make an employee feel like a kid who needs adult supervision to get anything done.

Chris Johnson of Simplifilm has implemented a different system in his organisation that streamlines decision-making, avoids the team downtime between tasks, and fosters what he calls a "bias for action" in a team. And all it takes is four little words: Unless I Hear Differently.

So next time there is any problem or course of action -- like a proposal for a client or deciding the next lines of code to be written in the project -- let the person charged with the task take initiative and think about the best way to accomplish it.

Once he or she is 70% sure about the solution, he can communicate it to bosses, colleagues, clients or whoever else is involved in the project with a memo saying, "Unless I hear differently, I am going to take this set of actions."

Often, this will help clarify what needs to be done and collaborators can then refine the actions. Otherwise, the worker can get to the task and not waste any more time.

Johnson advises that the system will have a few chinks initially and you have to be a little lenient, such as allowing for some time to let people have their say. But the process irons out these flaws as you use it.

Johnson first revealed this productivity hack in an interview with Fizzle, which was so inspired by it that they created a mini-site to help you implement the UIHD system in your organisation, complete with a template email you can send out to get started.

Unless I Hear Differently
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