If you're one of E2's more fastidious readers, you might recall that I wrote a couple of blog entries over the summer. Just after the second one posted, my schedule was turned upside down when I signed on to run a local political campaign.
It's true that I was gone from E2, but I didn't stay away altogether. I kept in close touch with my friend Curt Franklin, E2's executive editor. During our conversations, we developed a joint vision of the beat I'd cover when I returned. Almost immediately, we honed in on a pretty specific niche -- one that has been a passion of mine for the last several years and one we believed would deliver unique and immediate value to the CIOs who spend time here on E2: mindfulness.
In case you haven't been paying attention, interest in mindfulness has been exploding over the last couple of years. Wherever you look, from the Harvard Business Review to HBO, it seems that everyone from athletes to CEOs has been discovering its benefits.
I believe that mindfulness can be beneficial to everyone. However, for a variety of reasons, it's clear to me that CIOs could be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the movement toward increased mindfulness in the workplace.
There are plenty of definitions of mindfulness. Basically, it refers to your ability to pay attention to and function in the present moment. If that seems a bit metaphysical, that's a fair observation. The basics of mindfulness were widely known thousands of years ago, and it became the foundation for Buddhism. But today's mindfulness renaissance is being driven far more by science than by spirituality. Perhaps it might be accurate to say that it represents an ongoing convergence between the two. In this forum, though, I'll be focusing on secular, science-based aspects of the topic.
Over the next several months, we'll look at how individuals and organizations in the IT industry use mindfulness to improve effectiveness and enhance long-term results. As a CIO, you'll see three broad areas where mindfulness can make you more effective.
- Your personal performance as an executive: Business leaders who practice mindfulness believe it significantly improves their judgment and decision making. It keeps them focused and enhances their ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities.
- The performance of your team: There's a mounting body of evidence that there are measurable benefits to providing mindfulness training (and space) for your team members. Both quality of output and job satisfaction can be improved.
- Your users' experiences: The data is scarce right now, but I believe we're not too far from getting hard data on how mindfulness translates into improved user experiences (and, in the case of internal customers, improved working relationships).
Enormous advances in neuroscience over the last decade or two have changed everything. We've learned more about the mind and the brain than we ever knew before by orders of magnitude. Things that we always believed to be true about the mind's inability to change or to learn have turned out to be almost exactly wrong. Just as importantly, smart people like David Eagleman are dragging hard data out of campus labs and into our everyday lives.
If you coached a championship football team, you'd try to make sure your team pursued the best strength training strategies on the planet. Similarly, if you and your IT team are going to be world class, it makes sense to stay connected to emerging strategies that will make your team members' minds work better.
That's what we'll be talking about a couple of times a month. I'm looking forward to hearing any questions you might have or, even better, hearing about your own adventures in mindfulness at work.