Work smarter, not harder.
Have you heard that? I did, in my first job out of college; my boss said it, but it wasn’t clear what it meant. What does ‘work smarter’ mean? I already thought I was working smarter. Well, as I’ve learned (in conjunction with my ITA colleagues), it means a number of things that organizations can, and should, do.
So, what is known about when we work smarter? We work smarter under a number of conditions: when we have a clear goal of what we’re supposed to achieve and we recognize it’s importance; when we’re free to experiment, explore, and even fail; when we have colleagues to collaborate with; and when we have the resources we need available ‘to hand’. This provides some guidance about what an organization should be doing to optimize the likelihood of success.
We need to be doing meaningful work that we’re excited about. We need to be connected to a vision, and understand how our role contributes. There needs to be transparency above and below as well as ahead, so we can see how the parts are working together.
We also need a culture where that transparency is empowering, not threatening. It has to be safe to perform in public, to share our thoughts, and to both provide and receive help to others. Where, when mistakes are made, the lessons are learned and shared.
We need to see it as important to contribute, and be enabled to communicate to the right people, and be able to work together to get the job done. We need time to reflect as well, to take time to think about what we’re doing. We should be doing that publicly too. We need to learn out loud and together.
Finally, we need the tools available. We shouldn’t have to take time to go multiple places to get what we need, and use inconsistent interfaces to use them. We should have an environment where we’re focused on our tasks, and can get who and what we need to stay focused.
How to work smarter isn’t a mystery. The mystery is why more organizations aren’t systematically breaking down the barriers to working smarter. Are you ready to get going?