Friday, March 4, 2011

Considering Indifference

We're meant to take ownership of our work. We're meant to have pride in our output. That's how we're taught. And, for someone like me, at least, that translates to a level of perfectionism in certain deliverables that can be rather taxing. Not all deliverables, but I can easily get wrapped around the axle on some slide deck or document.

But here's the thing. It's all a bit of a lie.

Remember in school when you had individual homework and group work? Life is a hell of a lot more like group work. At least my life. In group work, you were constantly battling the fact that you had a vision, you put in the effort on part 2, you had a story in your head - and that idiot on your team jacked it up. If you matured a bit, you separated "messed it up" from "had his own vision that was incongruous with yours," as the latter is far more generous and valid an attitude. But, either way, your vision was not executed.

So, I can wake up every morning today with a vision and a dream, and the rest of the team, who I am lucky to say, are simply operating on their own visions, will go in and muck up my vision for a single document/plan/exercise. If I feel true ownership of "my" work output, then, I am setting myself up for either constant battles or constant disappointment or both. It isn't my work output. It's OUR work output. And more often then not, I'm dreaming of a well-appointed victorian mansion while my counterparts are considering ranch houses with ocean views. They toss a skylight in my foyer and I get annoyed. Or maybe I throw some frilly mantle on their space age fireplace, and they get annoyed.

For all the alleged value of vision and ownership, I actually think it gets in the way of collaboration and progress more often than not. Vision is infused subtly. Vision is the default assumptions people adopt without paying much attention. Real work requires you to put away your vision and see the product being collaboratively built. If the process is productive, you get a nice family home with good market value. If it isn't, you find no one will buy what you're selling...

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