This is the third article in a three-part series on creative leaders:
Embrace the reverse pilot | Look outside your circle | Make time for inspiration

Good leaders stay on top of their game by remaining dynamic. While it is not always about embracing every new, shiny theory, it does require effort, practice and some attempt to stay current.

This three-part series for creative leaders will highlight a few non-traditional strategies to add to that leadership bag of tricks. We will start by discussing the reverse pilot.

What is a reverse pilot?

Daniel Shapero, vice president of talent solutions, careers, and learning at LinkedIn wrote about the reverse pilot in his article, "Great Managers Prune as Well as Plant." Greg McKeown, author of the New York Times best-selling book “Essentialism," refers to it as a key strategy to overcome overcommitting.

Simply put, the idea is to strip away useless or productivity-killing activities. While a traditional pilot program provides an opportunity to test out a new product or approach to better understand the positive impact it has, a reverse pilot has the opposite intent. Take the activity away and see what happens.

Too busy

We are all running 1 million miles a minute; something that feels even more true at year-end. The biggest problem with moving fast and taking on a lot is the potential to miss something.

However, what if we could take that problem and turn it to our advantage? Launching a reverse pilot program right now might be the best way.

It may seem counterintuitive, yet most employees are increasingly busy this time of year. Thus, they may welcome the extra time in their day.

Whether it is a report that is not created, a meeting that disappears from the calendar or a request that is no longer sent, this is a great time of year to try doing one less thing. Next, wait and see what happens. Does anyone notice? Is there positive or negative feedback? How many people said something?

Use whatever data you can collect about the absence of the activity and weigh it against the time, energy and resources the activity required. Armed with cost-benefit analysis, it will be easier to determine whether to reinstate the activity.

Too easy

If it sounds too easy, it is not. Taking away a meeting, report or process that may be a part of several employees’ responsibilities can be a challenge. Further, measuring the absence of something can be tricky as well. We are so used to tracking increases, it can be tough to get a grasp on something like a decrease in wasted time.

While we frequently think of ways to add, build or develop, everything does not follow a beta-test, have tons of research to back it up or is well-funded. To stay on top of our game, sometimes it helps to switch perspectives. Instead of adding another initiative, take the initiative to take something away instead. Doing so may end up adding back time and productivity.

The bottom line: We must be creative so we can continue to find ways to maximize our time and energy, ensuring they are spent on fruitful pursuits, not just things that we assume need to get done.

In Part 2, we examine the spheres of influence that can confine us and simple ways to look outside those circles.