There are only three types of work:

  • Bad work
  • Good work
  • Great work

I think you probably know what sits in each of these categories.

Bad work is pointless. It is a waste of time. It is the basis of Dilbert cartoons. Sadly, most organisations are superb at creating bad work: bureaucracy, meetings to plan other meetings, outdated processes that bear no relation to what customers require.

Good work is the bread and butter, the stuff you do well, you are trained to do.  It is comfortable and you probably do it well. Good work is necessary and there will always be some in your life.

Great work is the work that matters. It is meaningful to you, has an impact and makes a difference. It can be enjoyable, but it can also be quite uncomfortable. It is new and challenging so there exists a possibility of failure.

The answer is not to stop everything and focus only on great work.  I was reading the Changethis.com manifesto “Stop the Busywork: 7 counter-intuitive ways to find more time, space and courage to do more Great work” by Michael Bungay Stenier.  His years of experience coaching people suggest that most people lie in the range of:

  • 10-40% Bad work
  • 40-80% Good work
  • 0-25% Great work

Michael suggests an exercise: You draw a large circle on a page and create your own work pie chart – how much of what you do is bad, good and great?  What sorts of things fit into good and great?  What is in the great category that is also of immediate and strategic value to your company?

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