Common words often have many meanings and interpretations. For example “work” is a common term often used to describe physical labor. It is also used to describe the location and/or company where you go to earn your paycheck. However if you are a manager, do you actually do “work”? Are you tired in the evening after a hard day? I feel tired after work so maybe physical labor is not the best definition for “work” in a discussion of management, and we should differentiate it from the location and/or company.
May I offer a definition for work from the management scientist, Dr. Elliot Jaques?
Work: The exercise of judgment and discretion in making decisions in carrying out goal directed activities. (Requisite Organization; Jaques, 2006)
Even a ditch digger is using judgment and discretion in doing his/her activity. How deep to dig? Where to dig? How long and wide to make the ditch? I like to use as my definition for work the phase, “the use of discretion to deliver a desired output” and then I sometimes use the word ‘creativity’ as a substitute for discretion. So hopefully we agree on my definition of ‘work’ and that in my definition of work a subset of the term ‘discretion’ includes such terms as judgment, creativity, innovation, etc.? All of these imply that we are thinking and using our rational thoughts to make decisions, and through such “work” we give ourselves the opportunity to get to a desired result.
Well that came across like Management 101. Sorry, but we do need a common definition of some of the terms which most certainly will come up repeatedly in this blog. Another example is “manager”. Lets start with this simple definition of manager: a person accountable for the results of others. I’m sure we will expand on this further in a later blog but this gets me to my question for today. If your manager is accountable for your results, then for what are you accountable?
Think about it and I will give you my thoughts in the next blog post.