Slow Down

for organizations


c.os.org.observe.03

This Domain-Level Guide is designed to be used based on the Core Model. Please refer to the Slow Down Core Practice before exploring this guide.

overview

Slowing Down is not only essential to the overall wellbeing of you and your team — it is necessary for practicing mindful Observation and applying Creativity. But Slowing Down seems to contradict the mode of operation many organizations are encouraging. A goal-driven environment often pushes you to move faster, do more, and as a result, dedicate less time to Observe.

Slowing Down is first and foremost a mindset, but there are practical things you can do to promote it. As organizations are usually plan- and goal-driven, the most natural way to enable a slower pace is to make it an inherent part of your plan and your working practices.

guide

Create Observation Spaces

Your attention span is a limited (yet renewable) resource. If you aim to mindfully notice as many things as possible and give them the proper level of attention, you have to plan the way you invest your bandwidth and create the space to renew it.

When you invest most of your energy in completing a task, you are less likely to have the bandwidth to explore and Observe your actions and interactions. Using concrete times in your schedule as Observation Spaces will allow you to slow down and invest your energy and bandwidth in mindful Observation and exploration without rushing toward completing your next task.

Don’t confuse Observation Spaces with the need for Reflecting on the things you do. Both are essential, but Observation precedes Reflection. When you Slow Down to Observe, you collect the raw materials for future insights.

  • Embed explicit time slots throughout your plan for active exploration and Observation.
  • Use these spaces to Observe the things you have done and the things ahead, as well as random things around you.
Take One Thing at a Time

The benefit of multitasking is one of the greatest myths in modern organizations. Often, multitasking is even set as a goal or a desired skill.

However, research proves that frequent context switching has a significant undesired impact on productivity (which is what multitasking is supposed to promote in the first place) and on cognitive abilities. In the context of Creativity and the Observe function, multitasking drains your bandwidth and reduces your ability to mindfully Observe the things you do and the things affecting your work.

  • Avoid multitasking as much as possible. Define concrete time frames for each task and clear separation between different tasks.
  • Give each task its appropriate attention and focus.
  • Allow sufficient time and bandwidth for each task.
Take Time to Wander

Not Dismissing Anything is not aimed solely at things in the natural context of your work. Anything can be an inspiration, and many (if not most) creative insights originate in the world outside the context of your primary tasks.

Taking some time to wander — explore and Observe other playgrounds — is an excellent source for collecting ingredients and coming up with creative insights. When you do that collectively, wandering can turn into a meaningful team-building experience.

  • Set predefined times for physical and mental wandering.
  • Use these times to explore new playgrounds, contexts, or physical locations individually or as a group.
  • Don’t set any target for wandering activities. Wandering, by definition, should be aimless.

examples

Example 1

The Pomodoro Technique® is a simple way to reduce multitasking, increase focus, and create built-in breaks that can be used as Observation Spaces among other things.

Its essence is setting predefined time frames for deep, focused work (the default is a 25-minute Pomodoro) and predefined breaks between them (short breaks of 5 minutes and longer 15-minute breaks). The key of The Pomodoro Technique is that during each Pomodoro, you are focused on one task and eliminate all other distractions or incoming interferences. By doing so, you eliminate context-switching at least for this 25-minute time frame.

Example 2

Plan personal or collective breaks between focused-work time slots. Even if the task is not finalized yet, taking a break and using it also to Observe what you have done and where you are at is bound to result in meaningful insights that can affect the next steps.

Example 3

Go out with the team for lunch walks. Walk together during or after lunch without any definite purpose. Use this activity to observe the world around you together, notice it, let it leave an impression on you.

related practices

further exploration


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