How to free up significant amounts of time with a Zombie Campaign

At Inventium, we frequently hear people say they don’t have time for innovation or simply struggle to get their day jobs done in ‘normal’ hours. So we say ‘Go and kill some Zombies’! These could be products, services, meetings, reports, or processes – but importantly, work Zombies are like the living dead. They are things that have failed to fulfil their promise and are hanging around sucking up resources without any real hope of having a meaningful impact. Running a Zombie Campaign also happens to be a very enjoyable way to free up time.

Aim

To free up time for more impactful and energising work.

Resources

  • A shared collaborative google spreadsheet or project management tool (we recommend Google Sheets or Monday). You can see our template here.
  • A facilitator
  • A designated ‘Zombie week’
  • A Zombie decision committee (ideally three people)
  • Zombie artefacts and promotional materials
  • Optional: Symbolic items for the Zombie killing ceremony

Method

Pre-Zombie Week (2-3 weeks prior)

  1. Build suspense through team communications and artefacts signalling the ‘Zombies are coming’! 
  2. Share your preferred Zombie collection tool with your team.
  3. Ask people to start looking for Zombies – processes, products, services, meetings or reports that no longer serve a valuable purpose or kill productivity. Then, have people add these to the list to be ‘killed’. 
  4. Also, ask people to look for Vampires – things that are sucking the life out of people but may still have value for your company and should therefore be changed or resurrected so they can add value again. Ask people to add these to the list with suggestions on how to improve rather than ‘kill’.
  5. Send frequent reminders in the lead up to your designated Zombie week. 
  6. Select your Zombie committee and schedule a time for them to meet towards the end of Zombie week. The time required for this will depend on the number of Zombies. We estimate around 2-3 hours. Your committee should be comprised of people with the appropriate authority to make decisions
  7. Schedule a time at the end of Zombie week for the ‘Killing Ceremony’. One hour should be enough time, depending on the number of Zombies you have decided to kill.  
  8. Brief your Zombie committee and provide them with a clear criteria for making decisions. We suggest having criteria such as:
    1. How frequently does this Zombie occur? (eg daily, weekly, monthly, once in a blue moon)
    2. How frustrating is this Zombie? (eg very frustrating, a little bit frustrating or not frustrating at all). If high frequency and high frustration exists, the decision should be prioritised
    3. Are there any the cost considerations that need to be made?
    4. Are there any logistical considerations that need to be made?
    5. How simple is the decision to implement? If a decision is easy and cost effective to implement, don’t spend time overthinking it – do it!

During Zombie Week

  1. Allow your team to review all submitted zombies and vampires and vote on the most significant time suckers.
  2. Present the Zombies to the Zombie Committee, who will work through each item and decide whether to kill or pivot, then record the reasons for this decision. We recommend live updating of the spreadsheet during this process for ultimate transparency. Clear and objective criteria for decisions is important to avoid people taking any killings personally. 
  3. Facilitate your Zombie ‘Killing Ceremony’ and create a symbolic way of doing this. 
    1. EXAMPLE: Each zombie is depicted as a sunflower seed that is buried but brought with it new life and new possibilities
    2. EXAMPLE: Write each Zombie on a piece of paper that is ceremoniously shredded
  4. Ensure that throughout the ceremony, you communicate the ‘why’: Explain why something is being killed and what it will result in – i.e. more time to try new things! 

After Zombie Week

    1. Share the results of the campaign to your business – what did you kill, what did you re-energise, and why? See if you can quantify each in terms of time/money saved and highlight the outcome.
        1. EXAMPLE – When we ran a Zombie Week with a client, 19 zombies were killed, resulting in significant financial savings and 75 hours a month of staff time being reclaimed for innovation.

Outcome

Upon completing the campaign, you should have some tangible time and money savings and have had some fun. Aside from that, we’re sure your team will have had an almost cathartic experience getting all their Zombies off their chest and will genuinely appreciate the extra time you’ve just freed up for them.