Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Meaning of Work

I began to wonder these past few weeks, as I do more and more non-income producing work, has my idea of work changed? Was my decision to redirect my life's work energy appropriately timed? What are my daily behaviors telling me about my comfort zone?

I had been defining success as 1) getting the most out of my teams and 2) achieving actionable stakeholder understanding of the relationship between what analysis determined they needed and their concept of desired result. It had appeared to me that the gap between analytical findings and expected results widened; once my employer became a public company whose focus shifted to short-term deliverables within massive merger initiatives.
The decision to 'retire' as part of my redirection, seems correct on all counts. Ironically, in a few recent chats with former work associates it was claimed that I left as a Legend.  But I was not thriving as evidenced by my thigh size.

Job preservation can distort results. Analysts with can be compelled to hold mirrors and document reflections; thereby, defining requirements as: What the stakeholder of the hour says they want without triangulating with evidence from observation and data.
2011 was the 1st year in 15 that I was not a lynch-pin in the chaos of yearend in which 60% of annual business was processed in 2 months. However, I was actually as much a part of this yearend as any other because my replacement system and mentored peers were navigating the chaos - and it appears with solid results. With my 2011 bonus check now in the bank, I am confident that my most recent income producing work created with a good team was a success.
In 2012, I am missing the teamwork. There is not the same level of investment in the outcome, or shared vision, in the pro bono work I have been doing. Nor is there the caliber of talent. I really miss the puzzling out of solutions with a  talented team and I am curious about how I would do in a team in which I was not a senior player. As I look for income producing work, the pragmatist in me sees two things as fundamental to my ability to contribute: 2004 knowledge of media is already old and leveraging what I know is the best means is the 'best' way to make a difference.
Experience has shown me that 

  • not all ideas are good and few are well informed
  • my most instructive teacher was typically a bad result
  • most things are iterative, and if they are not, they should be.
  • that hitting my head against the wall just caused headaches, not progress

So I am concluding that:
Yes, my idea of work has changed in that the goal is no longer daily bread - I am much more invested in the quality and purpose of the outcomes.
Yes, my decision to redirect my life's work energy was appropriately timed based on the changes in my former employer’s organization and my goals?
And that my daily behaviors are telling me that getting to a place of comfort within uncertainty has been challenging but that I am as capable of success now as I have always been - I just need to clarify what that means now.


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