Is working smarter foolish?

by Braden Kelley

Is working smarter foolish?

Last night I dreamed about the extremely unbalanced view of work in our societies, and woke up wondering whether working smarter is foolish.

Why is that we lionize the workaholics among us and penalize those that find ways to be more efficient?

Why is that we say “thank you for working so hard” to someone who takes sixty hours to complete a task and penalize the person who figures out how to do it in twenty hours by giving them more work to do?

Out of one side of our mouth we talk about the importance of work life balance and out of the other side we praise those who worked the weekend. What’s worse, we often also speak behind the back of those who find a way to leave promptly at 5 PM every day, and look down upon them instead of admiring them.

There is the old saying “Work smarter, not harder”, but what’s the point when you get punished for doing so?

Where’s the reward?

We reward companies for getting more efficient and more profitable by raising their stock price. Where’s the reward for the individual for finds a way to get more efficient?

And why do people who work neither hard or smart get a free ride?

I am reminded of the saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

The attitudes about work in our society that make this quote a truism, along with the penalties for working smarter, make it nearly impossible to achieve work life balance in our culture unless you’re lazy and difficult to fire.

People marvel at how much I seem to achieve between working full-time, traveling the world delivering keynotes on innovation and change, writing books and articles, helping to run Innovation Excellence, and getting ready to launch a new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit.

The only way I’m able to pull it off is by doing my best not to explode while I work harder at working smarter.

Books like Essentialism by Greg McKeown (and many other similar ones) serve as a great continuing education and gentle reminders for the legions of us trying to working smarter.

My wife also helps keep me focused only on the ground in front of me and becoming comfortable with whatever forward progress I’m able to make on my content creation efforts as I move through the world and all of the requirements and expectations that I’ve signed up for. The importance of family also lead me to protect evenings and weekends against potentially encroaching work.

work smarter not harderBut many organizations, and our culture at large, definitely doesn’t make it easy by inflicting their own inefficient processes, policies, and expectations on us.

So, what could we do better as organizations and leaders to teach people how to be more efficient in their jobs and have the foresight to let them use that improved efficiency to allow them to go home at a decent hour to their families?

We must remember, all parents have another job to go home to, and single employees have passions to explore that work probably is not fulfilling.

Help your employees work smarter and let them reap the rewards and you too will be rewarded with a stronger next generation of employees, increased employee retention, and MORE INNOVATION. Not a bad deal, right?

P.S. For my part soon I will be releasing a new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit to help organizations work smarter by planning their change initiatives (and projects) in a less overwhelming, more human way that will help literally get everyone one the same page.

I’m looking to select a handful of companies to teach how to use the toolkit for free and feature their experience in my next book on the best practices and next practices of organizational change. If you would like to get a jump on the competition by increasing your speed of change (and your ability to work smarter), register your interest here.


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SPECIAL BONUS: You can now access my latest webinar ‘Innovation is All About Change‘ compliments of CoDev with passcode 1515 here:

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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, builds sustainable innovation cultures, and tools for creating successful change. He is the author of the five-star book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and the creator of a revolutionary new change planning toolkit coming soon. Follow him on Twitter (@innovate) and Linkedin.

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  1. Excellent post Braden! The honesty and pragmatism you demonstrate here is fresh thinking that I wish was more prevalent in organizations. Thanks for sharing your waking thoughts!

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