Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Time to Think

How many times when implementing a policy, practice, or other strategy have you heard this, "We just don't have enough time." Well, here's something worth considering from an article on Knowledge Sharing:

"The concept of 'slack' refers to the availability of resources that go beyond the requirement for regular activities," notes Haas. "Slack time is the amount of time and attention the team members can commit to the project beyond the minimum required." Studies have found that "time famine" -- or a feeling of having too much to do and not enough time in which to do it -- can reduce team productivity.
Teams with insufficient slack time may download large quantities of documents from a database without checking their quality, skim the papers on their desk superficially -- missing important information -- or fail to solicit sufficiently diverse views by only consulting close colleagues who will return their phone calls promptly. These shortcuts can reduce the benefits of the knowledge inputs they obtain. In contrast, Haas points out, "slack time increases processing capability because team members have more time and attention available to allocate to knowledge-related as well as other task activities."

The key? Leaders (including teachers) often need to act as filters, determining which concepts are the most crtical for understanding and then providing the time for focused processing of those concepts. All too often we fall into the shotgun approach--throw all the research at them and hope some of it hits the target--or the coverage approach--we have to touch on every single detail about this topic, and the critical understandings are lost in the data stream.

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