Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What I've Learned from Being Mr. Mom: E.A.S.Y. Does It

I work from home two days each week while taking care of our baby (who is now 7 months young)! It's truly a privilege to have the flexibility to do this, even though it means a lot of late nights and working on the weekend to try keep up with everything.

A couple things I learned in the process are 1) E.A.S.Y. does it when it comes to baby care, and 2) care for your baby like the little *person* that they are. Incidentally, both of these points can be aptly applied to an organizational context.

First, E.A.S.Y. is an acronym that I got from the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. The letters stand for Eating, Activity, Sleeping, and You and it refers to the four segments of a structured, yet flexible, routine for you and your baby. Feed the baby (an obvious one, I know), then you do an Activity like changing the diaper, a walk outside, reading, tummy or blanket time, etc. Then the baby goes to Sleep, and then while they are sleeping You get some time for yourself (typically these are conference calls for me or writing). Each of the four-segment cycle lasts about 3 hours (or at least it did when Allyn was younger).

I'm a structured person so it definitely helps me out, but Allyn has responded really well to it as well as it provides the structure and predictability that little babies seem to thrive on.

Second, interacting with the baby respectfully as a person. I know this sounds really obvious and probably makes you wonder how else you should treat a baby, but Tracy Hogg, the author of Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, uses the example of how it would be pretty shocking if someone came up to you and all of the sudden, put you on your back and threw your legs up in the air (a reference to what many do when changing a baby's diaper). Instead she suggests to talk with your baby about what you're going to do before you do it, as you would with another person to show respect for their space and autonomy.

I've noticed a huge difference in how Allyn responds when I do this versus when I don't. She is much more receptive to changing her clothes or her diapers, for example. Feeding times also got a lot more smoothly. By taking the time to talk with her about things that impact her I notice I focus on her own space and autonomy, and as a result I notice that I listen much better to her cues and know what types of activities are appropriate and when.

The applications to the organizational setting are easy to see as well. For example, respect and take care of your customers' (or other stakeholders) needs first and then your needs. Doing the former can actually make the latter much easier to achieve over the long-term, as a result of all the positive word of mouth and customer-driven feedback and innovations you'll receive. You'll also be much more nimble in how you adapt to marketplace changes because you are really focused on the needs of your most valuable assets.

Sounds like it's time to move from the "Y" to the "E" and start the cycle again!