I was finished! OMG I had nothing to do for the rest of the day!! I was OUT OF WORK.
It became very clear that two thirds of my days for the past 25 years had been spent NOT WORKING and now, I had a much wider range of opportunities on how to spend that time.
To be sure, many of those hours in my old life were spent productively meeting with others - but many were not.
Let's open up this discussion and throw a light on these important issues: what is work? How does it define us? At the end of the day, what have we created?
Back in the late 90's, Jack Reilly CEO of Parlance, was a senior executive at IBM. He introduced some innovative concepts about work, and how we measure success and effectiveness. Reilly thought he could manage work processes by keeping track of what people committed to do, and measuring whether they kept their commitments.
He spoke about his ideas of what work consists of, developed with Fernando Flores, in an interview in the Center for Quality of Management Journal. Think about work as an exchange between a performer and customer, in which a task is agreed to, carried out, and satisfaction assessed. "It seemed to me to provide a definition of the new form of work that would lend itself to recording'something that could be kept track of using computer technology."
Fast forward 10 years or so, and Fast Company revisits the idea of work as a conversation about commitments, and why companies are in trouble. Once again quoting Fernando Flores, the article dissects what happens when there is no commitment from senior management.
"Performance breakdowns are attributable to failures of commitment: Executives make promises that they have no intention of fulfilling."
And now, 2 years later, Don Sull at the London Business School has published a Harvard Business Review OnPoint article Managing by Commitments. "A leader's commitments shape a business's identity, define its strengths and weaknesses, establish its opportunities and limitations, and set its direction. Managers who understand the nature and power of their commitments can wield them more effectively throughout a company's life cycle."
So is work a "conversation" about making commitments to each other? Are we rigourous about making and keeping our promises? Do we put our hearts and souls in what we say we are going to do - and actually carry through?
Or do we go to work, but not actually do work?
This is a wonderful conversation to be in at this time in our economy.