How to Perform a Time Leadership Portfolio Analysis

If you’re just doing your job the best you can, then this article may not be for you. However, if you have multiple things going at once, from side hustles to learning projects, then what follows can be tremendously useful. For me, it is now an annual reflection and planning activity.

You likely say yes to lots of things, and are dabbling in side projects, perhaps exploring some career moves, maybe trying to multiply your earnings through investing in anything from the stock market to property. There’s a lot of things on your plate, and you have no desire to change that fact. However, since your plate runneth over, it likely needs to be managed a bit.

Are you saying no to stuff because it’s the right thing to say no to, or are you saying no because you are just completely filled up?

Enter the very subjective Time Leadership Portfolio Analysis. I didn’t even name this until writing this article, it was just something I did, but it needed a name. Why Time Leadership? Because time management is how you manage everything on your plate. Time Leadership, on the other hand, is about deciding what should be on your plate, and what shouldn’t be. It’s the big brother to time management. Your time and attention is valuable. Manage it as if it was. 

How to do it: Draw a chart, on the Y axis is the value (or money, if you prefer) it provides and X is the time (or effort, if that makes more sense) it consumes. Now break your stuff into various elements, as granular as you can. For example, for me, I work on my ACT with Purpose Advisor clients, develop content for the Learning Lab, serve on boards, volunteer time, write, invest with money, invest in learning, and a few more. Each item is marked on the grid to see where it belongs. Now, to be clear, “value” is highly subjective, so I leave that to you to figure out.

For every item on that grid, as yourself:

  1. Should I still be doing this? Start here, because if the answer is no, then the other questions don’t matter.
  2. How do I increase the value of the item without increasing its time consumption?
  3. How do I decrease the time consumption without decreasing the value it provides?

There are zero easy answers to these questions. If you find there were easy answers, then that only proves how much you needed this exercise. But it provides critical thinking to your most valuable resource: you.

Let me know how it goes.

Innovating the Future: Cheryl Stokes on Inclusive Leadership at CNEXT


Cheryl Stokes, the CEO of CNEXT, joined Jamie Flinchbaugh on his podcast “People Solve Problems” to share her insights into corporate education, leadership development, culture change, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. With a rich background that spans over two decades, Cheryl has significantly contributed to these fields through her roles at Heidrick & Struggles and Duke Corporate Education before her current role. Her educational achievements include two Master of Science degrees from MIT and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Kettering University, equipping her with a unique perspective on leadership and organizational effectiveness.

In the episode, Cheryl discusses the concept of inclusion, defining it as the intentional creation of an environment where all individuals can contribute productively. She stresses the importance of moving beyond merely assembling diverse groups to ensuring active participation and listening within these groups. She emphasizes that inclusion requires deliberate effort and intentionality to be meaningful and effective.

Cheryl elaborates on the concept of inclusive leadership, which she describes as the ability to foster an environment that celebrates and utilizes the diversity of a team. She outlines the traits of an inclusive leader, including humility, self-awareness, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, the ability to collaborate effectively, and a visible commitment to inclusion. These traits, according to Cheryl, are essential for leaders who aim to unlock the full potential of their teams by creating a culture of belonging and engagement.

The conversation also touched on the equation of diversity and inclusion, with Cheryl explaining that while diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act that leads to a sense of belonging, which in turn drives engagement within organizations. This engagement is crucial for achieving lower turnover rates, higher productivity, and overall organizational success.

Cheryl’s contributions extend beyond her professional work; she is involved in several organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and serves as a trustee with the UK charity Leadership Through Sport and Business, supporting disadvantaged young people. Her commitment to fostering inclusive environments and promoting social mobility is evident in her work and volunteer activities.

Listeners of the podcast can learn more about Cheryl Stokes and her work in fostering inclusive leadership and organizational cultures through her company’s website, and her LinkedIn profile. Her insights provide valuable guidance for anyone looking to enhance their leadership skills and build more inclusive, productive, and engaged teams.



19 Graceful Ways To Ensure Recognition For Professional Contributions

On Forbes:  19 Graceful Ways To Ensure Recognition For Professional Contributions

Being recognized for one’s professional contributions is not simply a matter of fair acknowledgment; it can also be a key factor in career advancement. However, many professionals find it challenging to strike the delicate balance between ensuring they receive credit for their good work and appearing boastful or self-centered.

Read more here

Lean Whiskey Episode 45

Episode 45: “Crossover event: Just-in-Time Cafe and Lean Whiskey”

In Episode 45, Jamie Flinchbaugh and Mark Graban join the Just-in-Time Cafe team of Elisabeth Swan and Tracy O’Rourke as a special nod to their 100th Episode, while also having a chance to toast Mark’s accomplishment of 250 episodes of My Favorite Mistake podcast and 500 episodes of the Lean Blog Podcast. This episode blended the two formats a bit, but you can be sure whiskey was one of those elements that we retained. 

We each selected a cocktail to make. Jamie made his original recipe, the Black Forest Kiss. Since you can’t Google it, the recipe is 2 oz bourbon, ½ oz sweet vermouth, 1 oz Cherry Herring, 5 dashes chocolate bitters, and garnished with cherries. Mark made a Perfect Manhattan with walnut bitters. Elisabeth made Remember the Maine. Tracy was stuck with wine, but you’ll have to listen for the story as to why that was. We also checked in about the various books we’ve written, including Mark’s The Mistakes That Make Us, Jamie’s People Solve Problems, Elisabeth’s Picture Yourself a Leader, and the forthcoming 2nd edition from Tracy and Elisabeth of the Problem Solver’s Toolkit.

We shared our Hot Apps personal choices, which included Trello, Kainexus, Asana, and the combination of Evernote and Scannable. In the episode you’ll hear how we utilize these apps. We then turned our attention to podcasting, sharing our origin stories, what we love about it, and some mistakes that we’ve learned from through the process. 

Please review us and follow! 

First Principles for Problem-Solving

When I wrote my first draft of People Solve Problems, I was very clear that the tools were not where the magic was but I still referred to my favorite tools and methods a bit too often. After a structural edit and some great feedback, I committed further to write a truly method-agnostic book about problem solving, with the aim to get to the most essential matters for success.

I wish I had run across this quote before I had written the book. I think there is a good chance it would have made the introduction of the book. It is from Harrington Emerson, who wrote it well over 100 years ago…

“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Please, read that twice. I did.

My first reaction is that this is how I’ve tried to live my entire life. It was inefficient, to be fair. There are a lot of places where I didn’t need to understand the underlying principles, but just learn and apply the methods. Curiosity, as they say, killed the cat. However, that also allowed me to not just accept the methods as taught but to dig further, seeking foundational understanding.

My second reaction is that this was the goal of writing People Solve Problems. I’m not going to suggest that I was successful at defining the true first principles of problem solving, but that was certainly the goal and I hope I have advanced our understanding, and the discussion, around problem solving. That’s why I continued to have discussions on the podcast. Of course, you’ll be the judge of that.

Here’s how you can utilize the concept behind this quote. Decide what domains you need to understand the first principles, and when you can be fine with just tools and methods. Everyone needs a domain, or two, or ten, where you understand the true first principles. I’m not here to judge what those domains are – it could be fantasy football or home brewing for all I know – but we all have the opportunity and, I believe, the responsibility, to pursue this opportunity to advance our collective knowledge.

Forget Time Management—Manage Your Attention

On Forbes: Forget Time Management—Manage Your Attention

Baseball players can easily hit home run after home run in batting practice. But things are different when it’s the bottom of the ninth and the game is on the line in a stadium full of people cheering (or maybe booing). The difference is a player’s ability to focus on what matters and ignore what doesn’t.

Read More

Inclusive Problem-Solving and Culture Transformation: Insights from Rebecca Snelling of RS Consulting

In this episode of the People Solve Problems podcast, Jamie Flinchbaugh welcomes Rebecca Snelling, the owner of RS Consulting. The conversation focuses on the themes of collaboration, problem-solving, leadership, and the importance of a culture that supports these endeavors within the design and construction industry.

Rebecca brings a wealth of experience in coaching individuals, teams, and organizations on leadership and lean transformation, with a particular emphasis on culture advancement. She has a significant presence in the design and construction sector, contributing to various industry events both in the US and internationally. Her work involves helping clients to understand their current and target conditions and devising strategies to achieve their objectives effectively.

During the episode, Jamie and Rebecca explore the intricacies of collaboration in problem-solving. Rebecca underscores the importance of understanding a problem’s impacts and the people it affects, advocating for the inclusion of diverse perspectives in the problem-solving process. She shares a compelling anecdote about a painter who, despite being unrelated to a construction project, provided a breakthrough solution during a planning session. This story highlights the value of external perspectives and the potential of “half-baked” ideas to spark innovation.

Rebecca also discusses the concept of “touching the outside of the problem,” emphasizing the need to balance inclusivity with effectiveness. She suggests various strategies for managing large groups and ensuring productive collaboration, such as pre-discussions, breaking into smaller groups, and focusing on perspectives that offer the most value.

The conversation then shifts to the dynamics of problem-solving teams, with Rebecca advocating for a critical and thoughtful approach to team composition and problem scope. She warns against the inefficiency of involving too many participants and the necessity of maintaining a lean team for agility and speed.

Rebecca further addresses the balance between speed, thoroughness, and inclusion in problem-solving. She points out the pendulum swing between extremes and the importance of finding a middle ground that maximizes efficiency without sacrificing quality. She champions the development of problem-solving skills across the organization to empower more individuals and groups to address challenges effectively.

Ideation and brainstorming form another critical part of their discussion. Rebecca stresses the importance of setting clear expectations for brainstorming sessions, encouraging the sharing of half-baked ideas to foster collaboration and innovation. She mentions using tools like Mural for asynchronous collaboration and emphasizes the value of engaging younger or less experienced team members to bring fresh perspectives.

The episode encapsulates the essence of problem-solving in collaborative environments, highlighting the importance of diverse perspectives, the judicious composition of problem-solving teams, and the balance between speed and thoroughness. Rebecca’s insights offer valuable lessons for leaders and organizations aiming to foster a culture that champions effective problem-solving and innovation.

For more on Rebecca’s work and insights, visit her website and connect with her on LinkedIn 


16 Important Skills Professionals Need To Build ‘Future-Proof’ Careers

Everyone is so busy trying to keep up, but how do you get out ahead? How do you ‘future-proof’ your career?

Some skills, capabilities, and perspectives are timeless. You don’t have to be a futurist or a fortune teller to be prepared for the future. Here are 16 perspectives, including one from me, about how to do this.


Read More Here

Teams Solving Problems: Sarah Tilkens’ Strategies from GE and The KPI Lab


In a recent episode of the People Solve Problems podcast, Jamie Flinchbaugh sits down with Sarah Tilkens, Senior Manager of OpEx for GE Healthcare as well as the CEO & Founder of The KPI Lab, to discuss the art and science of problem-solving within organizations. Sarah shares her journey from an early interest in Six Sigma to founding The KPI Lab, focusing on how to tackle complex problems that professionals face in today’s business environment. She emphasizes the importance of a clear understanding of problems, advocating for a methodical approach to problem identification that prioritizes empathy and deep listening.

Sarah’s insights into her role as an coach with GE and The KPI Lab reveal her approach: she sees KPIs as not just as metrics but as narratives that guide and motivate teams towards continuous improvement and innovation. Her discussion with Jamie explores how effective problem-solving involves blending analytical rigor with a profound understanding of human behavior and team dynamics.

Throughout the episode, Sarah provides practical examples of how asking the right questions, fostering a culture of curiosity, and adopting a learner’s mindset can transform challenges into opportunities for growth. She stresses the significance of leadership in cultivating an environment where teams are empowered to experiment, learn from failures, and innovate.

This conversation offers listeners an opportunity to learn about the nuances of operational excellence, the subtleties of managing team dynamics, and the critical role of leadership in fostering a problem-solving culture. For those eager to learn more about Sarah’s work or to connect with her, information is available on The KPI Lab’s website ( and her LinkedIn profile 

This episode is essential for anyone looking to enhance their problem-solving skills, drive operational efficiency, and inspire a culture of innovation within their organization.


Is Our Thinking Wrong about the Speed of Decision Making?

We should all speed up our decision-making in this faster-moving world, right? Well, only partially right. In this video, we’ll explain how our decision-making should be really split into faster decisions and deliberately slower decisions. I’ll share why, and also the core methods you might consider to help.