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Work Is Broken; Let's Hack It - Forbes

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Just passing Labor Day in the USA makes an excellent time to consider something we all know and feel instinctively: Work is fundamentally broken. I used to think it was just a little chipped in the corner, so we turned it around to show another face and pretended no one would notice. No, it is not just chipped. It is not simply a large unsightly-but-innocuous crack. It is wholly broken through and through.

Managers, academics and pontificators like myself have been gluing together the pieces for ages trying to pass it off as whole to others. Sooner or later a butterfly flapping its wings will shatter the entire illusion of structural integrity. First, we will sit around gob-smacked that it could even happen, and then we will look for someone or something to blame.

The problem isn’t in any particular piece. It isn’t in the baking process, nor in the glazing. It would be easy to blame the quality of the ingredients–the people involved in the work. We can scurry about looking for better quality ingredients to see how they settle into the system, but that only asks us to start over or redo some of it. What is wrong is in the binding agent that holds it all together.

Any guesses on that binding agent? Is it management? Perhaps. More accurately, it is how we manage our work. Rather than looking the problem laying with the workers or with the management, I look at it in terms of the holistic system of how we coordinate and execute work. Before I offer an explanation of what that means, we should look at what this pain means to us.