On a daily basis, any executive receives hundreds of emails, phone calls by the dozens and a good amount of text messages. Oh, and this article to read and this site to check and this piece of advice to share… One could spend the whole day just “responding” to this myriad of solicitations.
In order to actually get some work done and survive, executives put in place necessary protection mechanisms. For some it is a very efficient personal assistant who knows exactly what to allow to reach and what to prevent arriving on the executive’s agenda. For others it is a very unique combination of work practices such as not responding to certain emails, selectively picking up the phone, or allocating a certain amount of daily time to read or research topics outside business-as-usual.
However, how much is this protection actually cutting the executive off from signals in the market place, early trends, or new thinking in adjacent activities or industries? Too much filtering may mean that the executive is focusing almost exclusively on his/her business, and is not nurturing the creative part of his/her brain. Many executives complain about having no time to step back and think, or to get educated on new topics. The risk is that, eventually, isolated executives lose their pertinence in a fast-moving world. This isolation may also have them lose touch with what is happening deep within their organization and with customers.
The response for executives with an eye on the future should be to place careful limits on the amount of filtering they put in practice. Being clear on what you are passionate about or even merely interested in, and allowing space in your schedule to work on, study, hear or share about these topics may be a indispensable path to being valuable and relevant to your organization.