Lunchtime Links: Productivity Tips From ‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner

Lessons in teamwork from the brain behind the hit AMC television drama. Also: how to turn curiosity into productivity.

Some of our best projects are the result of teamwork. Just ask the creator of the Emmy-award-winning television series Mad Men.

That, and more productivity tips, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Don’t pretend to be better than others, and don’t fool yourself into thinking you have all the answers.

Write out loud: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has a unique writing system: He dictates the script to an assistant. Weiner says the process allows his thoughts to flow more naturally than they would if he were alone in front of a computer screen. He avoids second-guessing himself, and he hears the dialogue as it would sound on the show. And often, he says, his staff writers provide the fuel to keep the project moving. “This is not me doing something, this is an organism. It’s not a committee—that’s part of my reputation on some level—but that’s the only way it works,” Weiner tells Fast Company about his process, which has produced its share of Emmy-award-winning results. “I’m in charge of it, but … I am picking and choosing from gold that’s being given to me by really, really talented writers.” What does your association do to promote collaboration?

Honest talk: Curiosity is a big driver of productivity, if Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Richard Feynman was any example. Samuel Bacharach, director of Cornell’s Institute for Workplace Studies, shares a few of the productivity lessons he took from Feynman’s book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! “For Feynman, productivity was less about work and more about exploring problems that intrigued him,” Bacharach writes for Inc.com. “Don’t pretend to be better than others, and don’t fool yourself into thinking you have all the answers. Like Feynman, be humble and talk directly and [honestly].”

The art of apology: Have you ever made a bad decision that negatively affected your colleagues’ work? If so, you know what’s next: the apology. Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., associate director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University Business School, says apologies only have their desired effect when done correctly. “When you think about it, it’s surprising that we’re often so bad at apologizing,” she writes on HBR’s blog. “After all, we are frequently on the receiving end of apologies ourselves—so we should know what works and what doesn’t. In reality, we often forget what it’s like to be on the other side—whether we’re trying to apologize, impress, persuade, help, or motivate.”

What are you reading today? Let us know in the comments.

(Christina Saint Marche/Flickr)

Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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