I'm dating myself by sharing this video with you, but it's worth it.
As a kid, I spent many happy Sunday nights at 8pm watching The Ed Sullivan Show. Erich Brenn, the plate spinner, was always one of my favorites. I didn't realize it then, but Brenn offers some valuable lessons for managers who struggle with operational management and efficiency.
Brenn has mastered time management. He is an amazing multitasker and an astonishing micro-manager. You probably can see a little (or a lot) of yourself in his peripatetic antics --the problem is, you're not a professional plate-spinner.
Brenn is the only one who can spin the plates, so he can't delegate -- that would have made his act pretty boring. You, on the other hand, should be delegating work that someone else can do, and focus on doing the things that only you can do.
Brenn excels at doing several things at once. He can spin plates, keep the bowls on top of those sticks spinning, and toss spoons around. You, on the other hand, can't multitask, even though you may think you can. You can only do one thing at a time with the type of work you do.
Did you catch the moment when Brenn dropped some spoons on the floor? A quick shrug and he's off to spin the plates some more. But if you drop some spoons (i.e. making a mistake on a client's account) the raminfications can be much more serious -- even if Brenn's error was seen by millions on a Sunday night in 1969.
What's one plate-spinning activitiy you vow to give up next week to focus on the work that only you can do? Share your insights with a comment.