Tuesday, June 27, 2006

thoughts on the concept of work

I have always been fascinated by how people work (or fail to work) together, both as a writer and as someone getting his graduate degree in Organizational Change. Here are some assorted tidbits on the subject that I've scribbled down over the years:

Work can be thought of as the process of overcoming inertia - whether it's hefting steel beams or just wrestling the unwieldly structure of your organization.

A friend of mine works at a large defense contractor. Like many other bureacratic institutions, it seems to be very difficult to get anything changed there. She call it "getting the elephant to dance."

Never underestimate the obstacles any halfway organized society or group of people can throw in your way.

Parkinson's Law, a term developed by British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson from his lighthearted observations of politics, states that work expands to fill the time available.

On the practical side, one of the most useful definitions of work comes from a grocery store manager I once knew: "When you're at work, you have to work! That's why they call it work!"

Then there was Howard, the twenty-something manager of the car wash where I worked during high school. His motivational speech for our benefit before every shift was "Don't you f**** up this time!"


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