Rio2016 Olympics and the Essentialism

How I’ve transformed loads of information received at Rio2016 Olympic Committee in a successful essentialist work

By the end of the Olympic Games, I read Essentialism by Greg Mckeown. It was clear that the unconscious strategy I’d chosen to succeed at work was “Less is More”.

In the first week of work at the Committee, I received loads of work. Everything was overwhelming: lots of e-mails, lots of meetings, lots of colleagues, lots to be done and lots to be learned. It’d be an intense and challenging experience and I asked myself how to pick priorities at each time. The first step was to understand the operation the department had to deliver. I took a few days to dive into reports and policy and procedure readings, and to get answers with co-workers who were already there.

When I became responsible for a team of seven managers, I had a chance to choose how to lead. This freedom made all the difference. We made good use of time discussing what was worth becoming a priority. Therefore, we had enough content to decide what should or should not be done. Deciding what to do, what to delegate and what to invite to be done was an important part of my routine. Choosing to make something different, to do something new or simply not to do was sometimes the option selected.

Little by little the team started understanding that having the basic values defined, we would focus on those values and would ignore all the rest. We’d do well what we defined and would do the minimum necessary to meet bureaucratic processes that wouldn’t add to the final operation. At first, it could sound like incompetence or petulance, but it was clear that it wasn’t humanly possible to meet all requests with perfection. I wanted to have common sense, and then avoid doing everything and progressing so little.

The next step was to define very clearly the goal of the week at meetings. Whoever needed help to reach the goal, counted on their buddies, so everyone stepped ahead together. Talents emerged and naturally we determined who would execute each task easier, faster and more joyful. I was picky regarding what to listen. The requests kept coming. The mantras “what we have for today” or “a step a day” started to be lived by the team. Whoever pulled the team behind in the department or other areas, was slightly ignored. Nothing would demotivate our commitment and goal to deliver the best Olympic Games in our country.

Simple tasks optimized our time such as creating a list of procedures. The team shared ideas. The good ones were adopted and acknowledged. The ideas that didn’t match with our idea “less is more” would be respectfully kept away in order to be processed, maybe, at another moment. We created patterns for files and shared them with the team to avoid that everyone wasted time working on the same layout. Links and documents were online so that everyone had immediate access to what happened.

It was part of the routine to remove obstacles. I always asked myself: “what do we gain and what do we lose if this manager contact that person directly?” That way, we benefited from many short-cuts. The time and energy should be spent in what really mattered.

I started from the idea of doing the minimum necessary in a scenario of pressure and stress that wasn’t encouraging — common in many companies. We planned as a team and organized ourselves. Small victories were daily celebrated and I got to an amazing statement: a united team get much further. A week prior to the beginning of the games, everything that we wanted was ready. The humble goal to survive in the company doing the minimum necessary gave space to doing more than planned with excellence.

Originally published in LinkedIn