Working Smarter vs. Working Harder LO30245

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 06/09/03

Replying to LO30231 --

Hello Steve, dear felLOw antz,

Through The Looking Glass rewritten: "Now here , you see, it takes all the
cunning you can manage, to keep in the same place. If you want to get
somewhere else, you must be at least twice as smart as that".

And because most managers move twice as fast as others (with the exception
of HR-managers, they can make thrice that speed), they must be twice as
smart. QED. So, i assume that the core of the issue is not that people are
unable or do not want to work harder, or that they do not want to work
smarter. They simply do not want to work harder for somebody else when
they suspect that the other is going to reap the benefits. And that is
very smart - locally. Besides, working harder - or smarter - only will let
you end up at your level of incompetence twice as fast. The true smart
bro's (or sisses) are those who work at their own pace.

The issue is not that LO - or any other theory, like TQM, BPR, teamwork,
KM, what have you - or what are you - isn't valid - the problem is that
time after time we end up in a place were we cannot leave by using the
road (= theory) that brought us there. You can check out any time, but you
can never leave. Why? I assume that we're confronted by the central
paradox of learning:

"Learning in order to control behaviour (of others) inhibits learning."

As long as organisations treat learning (aka improvement, change, working
smarter) as a method, a tool, a system of solving problems by controlling
others (and that includes influencing customers through marketing etc.)
and not as ways for self-development, self-empowerment, spiritual growth
(- yes, i do think that the MBA-eduction is the modern day equivalent to
seminaries - remarkable word - and i also think that most religions do not
care for the spiritual growth of their believers, they're also caught up
in a competition - ), we'll remain stuck. And look what this stuckness
brought us: we've made major improvement to the point that we're now
starting to realize that we have become our own problem. It is a truely
beautiful stuckness. It will be much admired in the days to come and
people will wonder: "how was this possible, they saw it and didn't see;
they heared it and didn't understand?". Compare it to the stuckness of
biology before Darwin, of physics before Einstein and Schroeder.

Kind regards,

Jan Lelie wrote:

>Should work really be based on organizational strategy? If we get an
>insight about how to improve the strategy, what do we do? Because then
>the current strategy is at odds with the envisioned strategy--what is the
>foundation for making a decision to change the strategy? It seems it
>would only be something 'deeper' than strategy.
>Should work be based on relationships? What happens when people leave or
>get laid off, or are on vacation? How can I stay aware of relationships
>while I need to focus on the paper for which I have a deadline? What if
>I'm a sole proprietor (which I am)? I have no one else in the company to
>focus on.
>I have not heard a good suggestion as to what could possibly be the basis
>for true continuous improvement in work. It needs to be something that is
>always present in experience, which excludes strategies and relationships
>and skills. What candidates that are always present could be useful?
>With this question I hope to start a real inquiry.


Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) facilitator mind@work

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