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Available

Good Group Tips

In principle, issues that require decisions often come to us with little or no warning, when we are in the middle of something else. To be available is to be willing and able to instantly change priorities. To be available is to have a little excess capacity, a little down time in the schedule, a little gas in the tank. It is to be well-fed, well-rested, clear thinking, ready for anything.

Groups, managers, parents, and others who are always too busy and unavailable for unanticipated “stuff that comes up” are always on defense, always in crisis, often in emotional pain.

Practical Tip: When you make plans such as a work plan, a job description, a budget, or even just planning your day, leave room available for things you can’t anticipate. Resist the temptation to pack plans too full. Governments grow, in part, because when legislators see what looks like latent capacity — people sitting around — they rush to fill the void with additional responsibilities. Then when “stuff comes up” there is inadequate capacity so new spending is needed to build more capacity. Sometimes sitting around and being available is exactly what we want; think firefighters.

Plan to be available for things unplanned. Don’t hold to your plans no matter what. Be available to the people and things that are truly most important.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

9 thoughts on “Available

  1. Perfect timing! I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow and feel pressured to clean up all my old work, and a couple of new projects have just come my way! I need to allow time for those. Also a good reminder not to plan my vacation too tightly either!

  2. Another all important issue that speaks to the bottoms, middles and tops within an organization, gives us the next step to address the issue, applies it to our work and personal lives and with a bit of wit in your tone – “Sometimes sitting around and being available is exactly what we want; think firefighters.”
    Thank you.

  3. Great reminder! For those of us less comfortable with leaving ‘space’ in our lives, I sometimes categorize items as “a wish list” – things that I would like to do, but could be addressed/or not depending on what comes up. Not surprisingly, those items often times seem less important as time progresses.

  4. Ah ha! THIS explains a lot of what I’ve observed. I left regular public education because of exactly this issue (amongst many, some of them even my own…). The last school I taught at had school board members in the parking lot timing teachers to see if they were “wasting” time at the end of the day. Relationships of any kind take time, whether with people, problems or cats. The company I work for now makes it a point to give us time to shake together so we fit closer.

  5. Seems to be similar to what Tom DeMarco describes with his principle SLACK. Never plan 100% of your capacity. It makes you rigid which is not what you aim for in an agile world.

  6. I really liked this one. It got me thinking about how important being available to others is to a healthy community life. Our community would come to a STOP if everybody felt they were too busy to be available to each other.

  7. This is what good parenting is…being available, not having a rigid plan–seems like, once again Craig, you got it right—-

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