We’ve been talking an awful lot about work norms. Goldman Sachs no longer requires suits. IBM allows flex time. MasterCard permits video attendance at weekly touch base calls. This is all terribly progressive, and probably helps with attracting, retaining, and motivating A Players. But one thing remains a fallacy; the common safe place called “being busy”.
Maybe it’s the old puritan work ethic. Maybe it’s from back in the days when people- most- billed by the hour. Those warriors who worked on weekends. Brought files along on vacations. Always had a conference call, or a reason to burn the midnight oil. How impressive. What a workhorse. Such a team player. An animal. We gave you a pass because you were full on, all day. Frantically moving from one thing to the other, never pausing to catch your breath. PS; now you’re exhausted.
I’ve been observing one particular lawyer the last few years that bills (others, not me) by the hour, and for the life of him, he can’t comprehend how anyone could make money otherwise. His world is one of bartleby the scrivener, get a W-2 at year end and call it a day. Devoid of any concept of creative output, right place/right time, or asymmetrical value add, while I was in his presence he chose instead to rail endlessly about the illegitimacy of entrepreneurs and their habits. Perhaps he is just green with envy at the freedom of it all. That he wore tailored suits lined with Hermes silks, Berlutti shoes, a pocket watch on a golden chain and a DuPont pen… sorta underscored the absurdity of his arguments. But, I feel for him: what could he do… but raise his rate another $100 per hour. Never gonna get to a happy place doing that.
So I’m calling BS, and give no points for busy-ness.
- Our new world gives points for successful prioritization.
- Points for efficiency and productivity.
- Points for doing work that matters.
No points for busy. Bosses that reward that are just as guilty. I will focus on points for being done, and getting out of here. That’s what we need more of.
~Note: inspired by Godin