“Suz, this is an omen.”

For more than 27 years, I have been blessed to work with the same executive assistant. I know how long it’s been because Georgia started with me when my daughter, Ariel, was seven months old and, you guessed, she is now 27 (Ariel, that is).

What Georgia knows about me professionally and personally is beyond what any poor soul should bear. That, however, is not the point of this e-conversation. Rather, it’s that across those nearly three decades, Georgia would occasionally see situations when I would drop the ball. That’s when she would say, “Suz, this is an omen.” (Boston accent included.) An omen that meant I was not paying attention to the details, or that I was focused on the wrong things, or that I was spread too thin.

Last week, I had one of those “omen” experiences. One that caused me to increase my focus on team, collaborative tools, discipline in file sharing, AND mindfulness.

By way of background, The NemetzGroup had an offsite scheduled to kick off the year, reconnect, and focus on our company vision and plan for the future (yes, consultants do sometimes use their own tools).

The meeting was important to me! We had prepared well and engaged the support of a skilled facilitator. We had our busy team block the entire day for this internal priority, temporarily putting client work on hold (read: costs up, revenues down). I had spent time on the flow, the opening, and the sessions that were under my direction. I jumped out of bed bright and early, printed a few handouts, and headed to the Waltham site with time to spare to get in the zone.

First, shockingly bad traffic began the process of rattling me. Even worse, I walked in late WITHOUT my computer.

It turned out, you see, that while I had my computer bag with me, the computer itself was resting happily in the docking station on my desk. Georgia was at the meeting, and she didn’t even need to say those five famous words out loud.

I must confess, I have really struggled to let go of this bonehead move. My computer and I are bonded in ways that are probably not healthy, and I COULD NOT BELIEVE I FORGOT HER / HIM / THEY! As you can see, I’ve let it go. (Not really.)

But you know what? In the end, it did not matter one bit. 

As is our practice, I had saved all the files on our shared file site and, thankfully, so had every other speaker for the day. Everything was completely accessible in its most current version, and other team members jumped in quickly, letting us proceed without skipping a beat.

Collaboration and Strong Tools Carry the Day

In a related story, within two days of this meeting, our team was working on an important strategy session for a client. Thanks to our people being in London, Boston, Austin, and San Diego, we were (literally) able to work around the clock, progress work on our own schedules, and know we each had the latest version.

This approach, together with Smartsheet, a tool we have discussed previously in this space, and Zoom video conferencing, another cool tool, means that collaboration is not limited to set times of the day, locations, or traffic patterns.

During the course of this distributed project, it struck me that as an industry, we need to keep looking for ways to improve howwe work, not just what we work on!In companies that run lean (everyone), where information is everything (a 2020 reality), and where the commercialization process can be overwhelming (daily), we need to figure out how we can smooth the work experience.

After all, as my story proves, when there are humans involved, boneheaded moves happen!

P.S. In case you’re wondering how the rest of my, “Suz, this is an omen” day went last week, it was chock-full of first world problems. When we drove to our team dinner, I lost my phone in my own car (Apple watch said it was there, but I could not find it). Then, when I finally returned home at 10:00 PM, our Verizon Fios was completely down, and we learned that it would stay that way for another 48 hours. So much for remote working plans! Is this the world telling me I need a digital detox weekend?