I am moving to a new client, which I am both excited and a bit sad about…
I think many people will think I am leaving my current assignment because I am unhappy, or demotivated. This could not be farther from the truth, I have actually never been so optimistic about the future of this organisation as I am right now. And I am very sad to be leaving the people I have been working with. The real reason I am moving is because I want to run a rather large life/work experiment. This article is about that experiment.
It all started a few months ago when I watched the keynote speaker, Henrik Kniberg, at a conference I organise.
Here is the full talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8DTUYfUOa0
By the way, the other guy in the video is me 😉
My main takeaway from the talk was quite simple. Slack time, time blocked out to provide flexibility, results in a sort of positive feedback loop which creates a snowball effect for both you and your clients. This image below visualises the concept very well.
I found myself deeply inspired by this talk, and wasn’t able to stop thinking about it. I started my own company precisely for the reason that I want to spend more time on my own development and ”side projects” like speaking at conferences, teaching, and writing.
But I have found the reality of owning your own company differs substantially from the dream. Most clients want you to work with them full time, and this means that you are tired when you get home and your free time is just a precious as it was before. What’s more, you actually have less free time because having your own company also requires administration.
I strongly considered talking to my current client about doing this, but in the end, I felt they actually need someone 100% for the job they need done. And while they might very well have agreed, I think at least in the short term I would have been doing them a disservice. So, when a new client appeared, without me actively searching for one, I saw this as an opportunity to set these expectations from day one.
I have long been a proponent of investing in the future, and a believe it pays back more quickly than most people anticipate. I believe slack time will work the same. I already have several side projects in my free time www.ScrumBeers.com and www.BrewingAgile.org and there is no question in my mind that these investments have paid back. But I don’t know that for sure, I don’t have any numbers, so I have decided I will run this as an experiment and try to assess the result.
Not enough time to explore, grow and learn.
- I need to earn enough to survive.
- I am fully engaged with a 40 hour work week, and this means no working hours to spend on improvement either.
- I don’t think it’s reasonable as a consultant to have my client pay for improvement time that may not directly benefit them.
- I actually do a fair few side projects in my free time currently.
- I don’t feel have any capacity left in free time for side projects, all time is either used or needed for rest or family.
- I worry I will become obsolete if I only focus on today.
- Have one day a week which is for working on projects that further my development or make me happier.
- Check every 3 months that this time is in fact being used for the intended purpose, and I am happy with the results.
- After one year, determine if this investment has paid back.
- Having a balance between the need to earn and have security, and investment in the future.
- Be able to demonstrate that this has a benefit for both me and my customers.
How to measure
One of the following criteria must be met:
- Earning greater or equal too what I would have earned having worked that year full time.
- At least 25% happier than I was before the experiment began. (This is something I will measure using my happiness index.)
- Find at least one way that I feel I have served my clients better, that would not have happened without slack time.
I am very excited to see the result! I will keep you updated.