“Hard work is only a small part of productivity” says Richard Farson in his short book ‘Management of the Absurd’. But this can’t be true can it? What about work ethic, effort and all those other good things? Farson’s argument is that we should distinguish between what it is that makes people work hard and what accounts for productivity. Our work organisations. Now, not wanting to just re-regurgitate Farson’s already well considered arguments, it is worth adding a fresh angle to emphasise what he has observed.
Deming has very strong views on this: “Hard work and best efforts will not by themselves dig us out of the pit” – working hard may get you no-where fast (and you will be none the wiser until it is too late).
Work has to be purposeful and that purpose needs to be relevant. To enable this we must be able to ask the right questions, to seek the right knowledge to inform us in what we do, how and why it matters.
Deming W.E. (1993) The New Economics, MIT CAES, Cambridge MA.
Farson R. (1996) Management of the Absurd. New York: Simon & Shuster