Working without delivering

March 28, 2011

Career counseling

In my career search, I have been trying to focus on the positive. Trying to move toward something new and good, instead of running away from something bad. But as I’m identifying the things that work for me, it’s difficult not to see the things that don’t.

I don’t do well in an environment that stifles creativity. In his latest book, Poke the Box, Seth Godin calls this the “culture of stasis.” It’s the sort of atmosphere that creates an opportunity for the corporate disease of “working without delivering.”

People learn that new ideas are not welcome, that originality is disregarded, that inaction is supported more than innovation. Slowly, subtly they learn the rules: Keep busy. Keep your head down. Make up work to do. Execute big sub-projects without knowing or caring how they contribute to the bigger picture. Stay late. Act like you’re doing a lot. Tell everyone how overburdened you are. Highlight “unsolvable” problems. Talk incessantly in circles. Don’t make any decisions. Call another meeting.

Do all this and you don’t have to actually deliver anything. This is how you can work really hard and ship nothing. Hey, you may even get externally rewarded. But ultimately, the culture of stasis is unsatisfying to its inhabitants and unsustainable as a system.

Creating and delivering something new is risky and scary. You might fail. At times, you probably will. But it is the only way to learn and improve. It is the only way to grow and move forward. It is the only way.

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One Comment on “Working without delivering”

  1. broadsideblog Says:

    I’ve been reading Godin’s blog recently. When it’s good, it’s very smart.

    I blogged about risk yesterday, and a new book you might enjoy.


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