Volume 10 | Issue 3 | Year 2007

Every manager has white space in his or her day. Successful managers take advantage of their white space and use it as a time to brainstorm new ideas or work on things outside their normal job scope.The following are tips for making the most of your daily white space:

1. Study the business of your passion.
The goal is to take aspects of your passion or hobby and see if you can apply it to your company in any way. Use your passions to “connect the dots” at work by uncovering new solutions to challenges and unique opportunities for growth. If you’re going to use this white space time to pursue some open ended projects, why not focus on projects where you have some kind of a passion? The things you love and know are ultimately going to give you ideas you can act upon.

2. Network outside of your industry.
Another option is to spend your white space time talking to your peers in other industries. Go to their events, trade shows, and conferences to get a feel for how the industry works and solves problems. Doing so enables you to get a completely different perspective on how to address challenges your company is facing. Also, develop relationships with people who are at a similar level as you are or who have a similar scope of responsibility as you do, but who work in completely different industries. So if you’re an accountant in a software company, for example, talk to accountants in manufacturing or professional services companies. Your standards and practices may be very different, but your peers have likely come up with some ideas and solutions that you can apply to your company.

3. Be your competitor for a day.
Use your white space time to write your competitor’s sales pitch. This will help
you understand what your competitors are saying about themselves and what the opportunities are for your company. For example, if you worked at Dell and had to write a sales pitch for Compaq, you would ask yourself what you could say about Compaq that only applied to them. Then you’d realize the true differences between your two companies and could figure out how to capitalize on those differences.

Make the Minutes Matter
We all have parts of our job that are not completely defined.
We all also have time in our day that’s unaccounted for – white space in our daily calendar that’s prime for opportunity. So really look at what you’re charged to do and then assess how much leeway for creativity and unconventional thinking you have.

White spaces are those gaps in your calendar in between meetings and other planned activities. Many managers fill that time by replying to e-mail or making phone calls. And while keeping in communication with people is certainly important, it’s not always the best use of white space. In fact, those managers who are truly successful and fulfilled use their white space to connect their personal passions with their professional goals.
But not all white space activity has to connect to your passions or hobbies. Sometimes simply using your white space to think about things differently is enough to give your company the competitive edge it needs.

Vince Thompson is the author of the new book, “Ignited: Managers, Light up Your Company and Career for More Power, More Purpose and More Success,” available in book stores everywhere. He is a former executive for AOL and the principal at Middleshift, a consulting company focused on creating revenue for Internet businesses by empowering those in the middle and super-serving customers. Visit: contact: www.beignited.com

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