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Effectiveness through others is different from effectiveness on my own

I spent a significant time of my career as a productivity consultant. It fit me because I have always disliked wasting time even as a child. (Maybe it was OCD.)

When I was young, I was responsible for washing the dishes. We didn’t have a sink in the kitchen though so it took quite some preparation and hassle to do it. I had a system: I organised the dirty dishes, I set up the 3 containers of hot water, cold water, drier, and went through them in batches. If there were a competition, I would’ve won, every time.

Systems please me. The pleasure is not only from the results but also from the creation. And this is the hard part.

Because systems are personal. When mum was washing the dishes, she did it differently. She used more water, she took breaks, and it took her longer. The dishes were still clean though. When we had a row and I showed her how I do it, she was still slower but on top of that, she was also uncomfortable. It wasn’t her way of doing it.

As a leader in the knowledge management industry, I can provide systems to work in, I can train people and theoretically can demand to use them but I would take away an important aspect of their work: autonomy.

I had to learn that efficiency is not everything. Work is not only about output but also about how people feel about themselves doing it. Without joy, work is just a chore. Nobody’s good at that.

11 thoughts on “Effectiveness through others is different from effectiveness on my own”

  1. As the mother of two unschooled and extremely autonomous teens, I am often in awe of their systems, which are very unlike mine.

    From age 2-6, my son dressed himself, but EVERYTHING was inside out or backwards or both. My family complained about that – but I reasoned that dressing independently was a good skill, he wasn’t always going to do it the same way, and a two-year-old who dressed himself already shouldn’t be discouraged.

    He’s 17 now, and his clothes face the world in a far more customary fashion.

    Getting hung up on forcing others to follow our personal systems ignores the rather huge facts that we are all individuals, and our brains don’t all follow the same paths.

    I really enjoyed reading this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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