Avoid the Rat Hole

I was talking to my brother yesterday.  Through the course of the conversation he said something like, “…not to go down the rat hole on this, but…”.  I’d never heard of the term.

Then last night the neighbors were over for dinner, and I asked K (who works in the tech sector) if she’d heard the term, “rat hole.”

She replied quite assumptively, “Yea, we use it all the time.  Like in meetings.  We even have a separate, rat hole white board, to capture those ideas during the discussion, but not allow the agenda to get high-jacked.”   Ah yes, the RAT HOLE.

This situation got me thinking.  There’s terminology, jargon, vernacular, whatever you want to call it, that’s likely to develop in any business, discipline, group, team, etc.  That’s probably a good thing most of the time.  It gives people with a common purpose a common language with which to move their goals forward.

Just as important as the language though — maybe more so, actually — are the processes and commitment to see things through to the goals that are set.

So to go back to my neighbor’s example, having a white board up during a meeting to note ideas that come up during discussion that aren’t particularly relevant to the agenda at hand is really smart.  It allows the ideas that come up to be captured for future review, but also keeps people moving forward towards their goals.

Figure 0ut ways to hack your behaviors to be more productive, to move toward the objectives you’ve set. You’ll be more successful.  Even more important, you’ll be happier. And you’ll stay out of the rat hole.

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