Do More by Doing It Differently
An excerpt from Try Different, Not Harder
by Karl G. Schoemer
"I can't work any harder. I'm already working harder than I ever have."
This common complaint during times of change is a red flag. No reorganization, reengineering, or right sizing sets an objective to have people work harder of longer. The goal is not to have fewer people do the same amount of work but to have fewer people figure out which part of the work is most important to the customer and do that. Underlying the change, though, is a marketplace mandate for greater efficiency, productivity, and levels of service. So while you need not necessarily work harder, you definitely must work differently.
The problem is that our competence and confidence lies in the old tools and methods. We are more comfortable redoubling our efforts than changing them.
"The way we've been doing it has always been good enough, so more of the same should be better."
Just when we should be letting go of the old, the ambiguity and uncertainty of change make us grip it even more tightly. Instead of giving the wheelbarrow a try, we feverishly attempt to move rocks more quickly by hand.
"How can my work suddenly be unacceptable? I'm doing exactly what I've always done, exactly how I've always done it."
Productivity is now gauged not only be the end result, but also by the processes and tools you use and your willingness to change those processes and tools. If you're still doing your job the way you always have by gritting your teeth, working longer and harder, and digging in your heels against change, every day puts you farther behind. In fact, if you simply do more of what you have always done, you'll get less than you ever have.
What worked yesterday won't necessarily work today. Good vaccines become ineffective against adaptive viruses. Even the best major league pitchers eventually give up a hit if they don't constantly revise their strategies. The tendency to do more of what made you successful is natural, but what made you successful may not keep you successful.
What to Do:
Fight your natural resistance to change. Figure out what needs to be done. Find out what no longer needs to be done, then stop doing it. Separate the wheat from the chaff and invest your time and energy in the wheat. Don't do more with less; do more by doing it differently. Work smarter. Perpetually adjust, refine, innovate, adapt.