Thursday, June 26, 2008

What is real work?

Often times one gets buried into the mechanical aspects of project management. There is comfort in routine and a certain symmetry in the output. It all looks beautifully structured and planned. However, the plan disguises the fact that there is very messy reality and a lot of ambiguity.

When one's faced with ambiguity, it is tempting to create very detailed and structured plans. As if somehow the plans details will make it reality. But a map is not reality and adding more tasks to a project schedule does not make it more realistic.

I thought about this reading a poem a friend sent me, The Real Work, by Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

The real work on projects is the thinking when one has to figure out what to do next. It's very comforting to do something you know, especially when problems swirl and the path in not well known. But busy work is not what's required at that point. Thought, and experiments and real work are what's called for, but often not done.

To paraphrase John Wooden, its often easier to look active than to achieve something.

Are you being active or achieving?

No comments: