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Getting Things Done in Large Organisations


When I work with leadership teams in big companies it's often apparent just how hard it is to get (new) things off the ground. It's almost as if the company is set up to thwart people who want to create something new and different. Which is why I loved this from Kumar Garg, who worked for Thomas Kalil (Deputy Director for Policy) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration. There's a good paper written on getting things done in large organisations by Kalil, but these principles listed on the whiteboard in the team office are excellent:

  • Schedule is your friend
  • Steer, don’t row
  • Hours you contribute/Hours overall
  • Have an opinion
  • Think of the end at the beginning
  • If you had 15 minutes to pitch POTUS, what is on your list and are you working on it?
  • Entrepreneur = someone not limited by the resources directly under their control
  • If you want people to do something, make it easy
  • Write it down. Make it happen.
  • Strong relationships are built on trust, mutual understanding, and reciprocity
  • People never follow up
  • Find your doers
  • Talk to who owns the paper
  • Better to light a single candle than cry out in the darkness
  • You can get more done if you don’t care who gets the credit
  • Don’t be a bottleneck
  • Water on stone
  • Just add talent
  • We are all captives of our experience
  • Do you have escalation dominance?


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