Simple Dollar – The Periodic Self Assessment

One of the more odious trends of modern thinking is our obsession with productivity. Why? Because the urge the squeeze ever more out of each second pushes us to overload. We end up working too fast to see the effects of what we do.  The urge to be more productive too easily morphs into the urge to sprint when walking would do just fine. In other words, the never ending quest to be more productive assumes that the marginal value of producing more and more is unlimited. Of course, this is nonsense.

Where did this come from? In my humble view, it is a by-product of the 20th century obsession with efficiency. Back when things were usually produced one at a time, mass production created tremendous value added by making component movements in the production process less costly and of more uniform quality. So one strips things down to the essentials to see what tasks are repeated, and focus on making those repetitive tasks faster and cheaper.

This works very well for the assembly line. But soon, we will find ourselves in a dilemma. Computers will be able to do any task better than we do, except one. That is to understand why we do tasks at all. So getting better at doing repetitive tasks is not a recipe for success in this future era. Getting better at assessing why we do tasks makes a lot more sense. And, as The Simple Dollar points out, this implies periodic self-assessment. It is not the same thing as rest. And it does not happen quickly or automatically. It is a form of work. And you get better at it the more you do it.

Where do we start? The periodic self-assessment is a part of strategic thinking. And you do it in light of the iterative questions that you ask and answer as you do things.  These are simple questions like “who are you?”, “what are you doing”, “who do you connect with”, and “what story are you building”?  But while the questions are simple, they are not so easy to answer and act upon.


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