Thursday, December 13, 2012

Food For Thought

It's Lunch Time
Do you ever notice that lunch conversation quite often is just another opportunity to talk about work stuff. It is tough sometimes to turn off the switch in the middle of the day for an hour and conversation inevitably stays on work. In my post F5, I talked about IT stress, burnout, and it being difficult to shut down at the end of the day, so should we be concerned about lunchtime?


Good Question
It is a good question, but a tough question to answer from a director's view. Often the best time to collaborate is over a good meal in a relaxing setting, so why change the conversation? A couple months ago we were discussing how to communicate the day to day information that is so critical for an IT department. Each day something new is discovered that can improve the end users experience, but often we are busy and don't find the time to e-mail, blog, or just talk about these things.

Make It A Date
A long time veteran of our IT department, Lonnie Trotter, suggested that we get together once a week at lunch time for an informal lunch gathering to chat about day to day happenings. Everyone can bring their lunch of choice, no formal agenda, and share anything that they feel is important for others to know. Since it is a "working" lunch, that hour is taken off the end of the day and another positive layer of communication has been added to the week.

Keep It Simple
You are probably thinking to yourself, so what. Working lunches, morning coffee, there are a number of ways to informally gather staffs together to chat, but how often do those go by the wayside when things get busy. The difficult task is finding the time and staying consistent with promoting positive collaboration within teams. Keeping it simple and not creating a multilayer approach to most situations usually yields the best results in my experience. If it takes rocket science to figure out how to communicate with one another, there may be other issues.

So, how does your team find time to stay in touch with the valuable day to day information that is critical for an IT department. The more collaborating the better, so please share. 


  1. Lunch time for some is time to recharge in peace and quiet, but once in a while a good get together over a meal is a great way to make time for sharing. The weekly staff room snacks has worked for us. Nice to get people together in the same space at the same time.

  2. I hope, as our teams mature and become highly performing, collaboration is built in to all they do. A lunch time collaboration may be a great place to start and a place where the team sees the benefits enough to want to o more. In highly collaborative methods, like Agile and Scrum, continuous high collaboration, not just cooperation, takes place throughout the day. One other and lightweight you may consider having a Daily Standup, where the team gathers daily for 15 minutes, and answers 3 questions:
    1. What did I do yesterday. 2. What am I doing today. 3. and What are my roadblocks.
    A simple 10-15 minutes works wonders!

    John Miller, CSP, PMP


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