Saturday, July 4, 2009

Phoning it in

The phrase "phoning it in" used to be how we described someone who wasn't really putting in an effort. Rather than get off the couch, come in and do something, this person was simply just doing the bare minimum.

Now though, I'm not sure phoning it in is a bad thing. In an economy desperate for innovation, we're seeing that effort and hard work for the sake of hard work isn't a good strategy. What you want are people who are willing to see the whole picture and be creative. Nose to the grindstone, sweat on your brow kind of effort likely won't get you there. Instead, if you're just paying attention to the important bits, maybe a phone call is all that's necessary. Perhaps the phone call transfers the single piece of information that's required, or adjusts the project to save a thousand hours of work. I would prefer distributed problem solvers to a room full of people putting in the face time. Face time is the kind of stuff that obfuscates the real issues.

I get my best ideas as I go to sleep, go for a run or read someone else's brilliant writing. If I could spend my whole day in that creative, thoughtful state, I'd be waaay more productive. Maybe a bed in every cublicle isn't right, but walks whenever the mood strikes, a recognition of the power of diverse perspectives, a work environment that is a lot less stuff, a focus on ideas and results instead of appearrances and hours - these start to make a lot of sense.

They just aren't in the typical manager's toolkit... for now.

Just for the record, I spelled obfuscates right but had to spell check it to make sure.

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