I remember looking over to the table of Maik and his group. He was always after getting good grades and seeing his group’s table made it clear: this time will be no exception. Books over books, stacks of internet printouts.
It’s ninth grade, ethics class. We’re split in small groups and work on a project about the teachings of a philosopher. My group chose Plato’s allegory of the cave.
“That doesn’t look like fun.” I thought. And pledged then and there that I will not read stacks of books, even though it’s most the obvious way to do this work.
I wanted it to be easy, light and quick to do. And I wanted to have fun.
So I suggested to my group to do a comic strip about Plato’s allegory. They were in immediately.
The result? Our teacher was so over-the-moon she asked us if she could take our hand-drawn comic strip to the teacher’s conference.
“Sure.” we smiled.
Stop Working So Hard
Are you sometimes like Maik and his group? Thinking that more work, more effort, more pages … is the only way to get results? Are you making work hard for you?
I see that often in my clients: thinking that extraordinary results always need an extraordinary amount of work. Not true.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times and projects where you can’t afford to be sloppy and have to be very diligent about the work you do. Like qualifying a new drug for a clinical trial, writing a report that’s submitted to regulators or paying suppliers on time.
But that principle doesn’t apply for the monthly report to your boss, that presentation in a team meeting or developing a prototype for a new product. Ask yourself how you can achieve the same impact with less words, fewer slides and a minimum set of features.
How can you make it easy?
Let It Be Easy
That’s where the distinction between deliverable and result comes in handy. If you specify deliverables (a 20 page report, a 30 minute presentation, a product with XYZ features), you’ll work very long and hard to fulfill those and maybe not even make an impact.
If on the other hand you focus on the result and impact you want your work to have, then you’ll know that a shorter report is more likely to be read. A shorter presentation means you have greater focus on your message which leads to more interest and action in your audience. And that prototype? Less tinkering, quicker consumer test, faster to market.
It’s not cheating either. For some things — like that root canal treatment at your dentist — greater value comes with less of it.
Let work be easy … and fun!
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