I recently attended the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. The highlight for me was the first session where Ismael Ghalimi interviewed David Allen, the author of "Getting Things Done." The book and associated methodology highlight the need to capture and organize ideas and tasks in a structured way. The interesting question for me is how to make it work on an Enterprise or company level.

One theory of Getting Things Done (GTD) is that it is impossible to "really" concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Therefore, a system like GTD helps juggle the competing tasks to organize and prioritize them. As you can imagine, the bulk of the conversation centered on Office 2.0 type tools that can help facilitate this process. David is an avid user of Jott for example. He uses it to capture his thoughts while driving so he doesn't force his brain to keep a running list. What struck me after listening to him in the keynote and subsequent panel is that the tools are actually the least important part of successfully getting things done. Practitioners of GTD in the Enteprise world probably use an infinite number of tool combinations including Outlook Tasks, Jott, iPhones, Text notes, Lotus Notes, etc.; you get the idea. What is fundamentally more important is the discipline and commitment to do it.

We all have different levels of both and our respective individual success will vary. What I find interesting is to figure out how to make a group practice GTD consistently. There is no silver bullet but the following factors need to be addressed:

  • Management commitment - There is no way that an entire group will practice GTD if the management team is not fully committed and emphasizes it every day. Managers (and team members) need to conduct meetings with GTD principles and plan work in the same way

  • Training - GTD is a clever methodology that leverages alot of common sense. However, if a group is going to adopt it and use it in the course of business, they need training. For no other reason, the need to speak the same language with each other is critical. For example, if I tell you I'm going to put that task in my One Week Action List, you better know what I mean

  • Incentives - People must have incentives to adopt this system in a consistent and lasting way. GTD could be baked into employee's MBOs, team goals, public recognition opportunities, whatever. There has to be incentives and measurement for true adoption

  • Tools - As I mentioned earlier, the actual tools can vary widly. In the panel discussion I attended, there were several vendors (Enleiten, Mindjet, bllist) who utilize GTD concepts in their products and/or methodologies. There is even a GTD plug-in for FireFox. Whatever tool a company decides to use, they must use it consistently and ensure it fits into how people work. Otherwise, I guarantee it will fail

Does your company practice GTD? How does it work?