Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Work vs. Growth

At our company we have a Corporate Guidance where you must work from home at least one day a month. …I’ll explain the “must” part later. Last month I had one of these days, and it was glorious! It was quiet, I had a nice cup of coffee, no interruptions and I powered through work, “WORK” (email, an outline and a business plan) like never before. I was able to focus and get so much work, “WORK” done that by noon I had completed nearly a typical weeks worth of work, “WORK”. I leaned back in my chair and felt the accomplishment, and even decided that for the first time in a long time I had earned a lunch break! :D

I am sure most of you have had a similar experience, where in the correct environment you have been able to drastically multiply the amount of work, “WORK” you could get accomplished. I’m not just talking about a 10 to 20 percent increase, but complete multipliers… like 5 to 10 times the amount of work, “WORK” done. Jason Fried of 37signals has a great Ted Talk on this Here! And there is a great article on multitasking in HBR Here!

THERE IS ONE PROBLEM THOUGH…. That’s only half the equation… and certainly not a “Triple Win”. :D

The study completely focuses on work, “WORK” just “WORK”…it is actually missing the other half of the equation. Think about days and days of just work, “WORK”…yes, you would get a lot done but you would not grow, you would not innovate… you’re too busy being great at getting work, “WORK” done.

Take the other side of my opening story from above and think back to the experience when you learned or grew the most or the fastest. In most cases it looked almost the complete opposite of the work, “WORK” environment. I am betting there were multiple people around, you were thrown into something foreign, under huge time constraints and it was anything but quiet. During that time, you expanded, broke through walls, grew and innovated like hell …you had no choice.

This gets to the point I am trying to make… at some point you have to come to the conclusion of what you value more, work or growth. That is not to say that both can’t exist (in fact they need to) at the same time in the same place, but at the end of the day given all equals, which will you put over the other?

At least in my case an where I work we have decided to value growth and innovation over work and optimization. I think it was John Henry who tried to out work innovation. BTW… if you value work over growth, you might want to consider a good outsourcing strategy.

Where I work we have created an environment that can be loud, that does have some interruptions and that can be distracting. At the same time we have created an environment where lots of smart, supportive people are around you. Where questions can be answered in seconds, where ideas freely and continuously flow and on most days you feel, actually feel, like you left a bit smarter. We also support a very flexible work from home Corporate Guidance, quiet conference rooms, some cubes and spots for heads down time. …but when you jump into the mix, you’d better be ready to grow.

So I ask you...  are you creating an environment where growth and innovation leads or looking for help with an outsourcing strategy? :D

ps… our Corporate Guidance say that you must “MUST” work from home once a month, we want our Team Members to practice working from home. Our disaster recover plan has one sentence “Take your laptop and go home”. :D