Many of us feel like we’re on a treadmill that’s increasing in speed and we can’t get off. Often we don’t even know who has the remote control. I ask you this: Why are people feeling like they are working harder than ever but accomplishing less? In my search for answers I recently read “A Sense of Urgency,” by John Kotter and “Fake Work,” by Brent Peterson and Gaylan Neilson. Kotter reminds us that “true urgency focuses on critical issues, not agendas overstuffed with the important and the trivial.” “Critically important means” challenges that are central to success or survival, winning or losing.” Therefore doing something incredibly well that doesn’t need to be done at all is a huge waste of organizational energy.
Without a clear vision of where we’re going and a clear roadmap to get there we can be dispensing great amounts of perspiration and still be “lost”. A map of Des Moines doesn’t help much in Detroit. How can we avoid doing “fake work”…that is work that fails miserably to add value and advance our organizations sustainability?
Please build on these ideas for actions to avoid from Peterson and Neilson:
- Holding meetings without a clear agenda and inviting people to share in the waste of time
- Sending emails to a huge distribution list of coworkers without considering whether they need the information
- Holding off-site meetings that provide distraction not value
- Not following through on plans to implement needed changes
- Assigning work then ignoring it when completed
- Running training programs that don’t make a real difference
According to these authors, fake work thrives where outdated cultures and work processes hang on. Do you feel like this phenomenon of “fake work” is prevalent at your organization? Is it something you can route out of your EHS and Sustainability programs? I’d love to hear some examples of how you have or are applying the ideas of Peterson and Neilson to cut down on the fake work in your EHS function!