Don’t bark at passing cars. Mark Mullen said this is in his opening speech at Thinking Digital this year. It made me think of Snoopy though I’m not sure he was a barker. The dog next door barks at anything, it is a Chihuahua and so perhaps its image should have popped into my head instead.
Mark went on to elaborate. When starting up a company there is a lot of stuff that goes on that is not relevant to your core aims. It is easy to get distracted and end up focussing on things that will ultimately pass you by, just like the cars in the street. He should know, as he is the Chief Executive of Atom Bank.
How true this is of working life in general. It is easy to focus on the irrelevant and indeed it can occupy much of our time. Barking at passing cars can create the impression of activity and allow us not to address the real issues. We may not be doing what is needed but at least we are doing something. How much productive time is lost to such activities?
When the dog jumps up at the window and yaps away at the traffic outside we may be tempted to shout at it to be quiet. As if it will understand. Someone will say, let it be, the dog is just doing its job. It is guarding the house from intruders.
So when your supervisor jumps up and starts barking at yet another irrelevant task should we be so lenient? Should we accept that they are just doing their job or should we point out that the car is already miles away?
Of course not. It is incumbent upon all of us to bring our efforts back to what is most important to the organisation and its customers. If we don’t then we may as well put our paws on the window sill and press our nose to the glass because here comes another one.