Thursday, April 12, 2007

What if everybody just wanna work smart?

I wanted to find the smart ass who coined the phrase "Work smart, not hard" and hang him by his toes and continuously shoot peppered ice-cold water in his face. Well, I found Gerry McGovern. But he wasn't meaning it to be like what our guys are taking it to mean.

Being busy is often an excuse for not doing something you should be doing. For me it has often been an excuse for not thinking, managing, and planning properly. Working hard is no longer the route to success it once was perceived to be. In an era of outsourcing and offshoring, success definitely does require hard work, but what is way more important is smart work. Basically, all the hard work will be outsourced, with just the smart work remaining.

Now what's happening is nobody's interested in working hard anymore. They're trying to outdo one another, passing work to other people, other departments or shoving them out of sight. Now instead of just managers delegating work to subordinates everybody else is doing likewise, even those without subordinates. They call meetings and pass the job to others. Local jargon turned that into 'Taichi'. I call that a football game. No wonder, the marketing guys always call a "kick-off" meeting whenever they get a LOI (letter of intent) from a customer. Pity the poor guy who has the ball at his feet!

Working in this kind of atmosphere is exasperating. For us and our previous generation who've worked their asses off to help build up this country, it seems some of our youths think working hard is beyond them. And I mean also those armed with their degrees (employable or otherwise). They think 'work' is what someone else does. Some don't even make the suggestions but just fill in the work-order after the brain-storming, during which they keep their mouths shut, being afraid that whoever makes the suggestion has to carry out the job.

Then I found out why they have this kind of attitude.

Some smart aleck has misquoted the Work Smart idea from somewhere and refashioned it. Instead of the phrase "Work smart, don't just work hard" the word 'just' disappeared.

They're ignoring the fact that if everybody just wants to work smart and nobody works hard there'll be nobody working at all.

Maybe that explains why we need so many foreigners around.


  1. It seems no one wants to work anymore !
    A note about these hard working foreigners ; Indians who are notorious slackers in their own country will work their asses off in any foriegn country.
    it seems that we should try a mass foreign exchange program to improve productivity !
    (this is a superficial observation, Im not saying that all indians in india are slackers )

  2. Seriously, those who dare to go to a foreign land to work are those who are ready to sweat it out. Otherwise, they get shipped back. Of course, there's the higher pay in comparison to what they get in their homeland. What I'm peeved about is the current concept of 'work'.

  3. but work smart does not mean passing work. working smart IMHO means completing the tasks in shorter time and with fewer resource. so in stead of outsourcing, some companies are starting to see how to optimise their current set up with automation technology

    i woundn't mind having a robot earning a living for me :)

  4. That's the trouble with every good concept. People interpret it wrongly and preach it to their subordinates. Now that sticks well because most people prefer to keep their hands clean.

    As for automation, it applies to high capacity process. If order is too low, say a few hundred units per day, there is no way you can implement it.

  5. so which would you prefer, the guy who works hard but takes ten hours to finish a job, or the guy who does it in an hour but slacks off with the rest? ^_^

  6. Well, I wouldn't mind working with both these guys. The 'how' doesn't matter, as long as they do it.
    But I 'd be pissed off with the one who weasels out of doing anything serious, but comes back into the picture only when the dust settles.

  7. well.. that's the human element - the most unreliable and unpredictable. can't live with em, can't live without em. ^_^

  8. I had one of them for a colleague once, long ago. An old injection machine broke down. The molds couldn't open. The GM told him to fix it. He got a technician and passed the job to him. The poor guy fiddled with it for a few days but couldn't get the toggles to budge. He went back to my colleague for some advice. He scratched his head. Came and asked me if I could lend him my car jack. I asked him how many tons he had to push. He said the machine had a capacity of 150 tons. I said sorry, my car jack can only lift 2 tons. He went away.

    The technician came to me. I had a long look at the machine. Then I suggested he spray some anti rust fluids and unscrew a few lock nuts (they were pretty huge) along the shafts, start the machine and let the machine move itself. He did that.

    The next morning the colleague went to the GM and told him the machine had been fixed. That's all. Not a word of credit for anyone.

  9. Yes. I got a lot of those as stories as well. What are we going to do eh? Most of the time we're just glad to help up, but some of these insecure guys make a jerk out of themselves. But kudos on the solution! Smart and simple and cheap. If only we can solve the world's problems that way most of the time. ^_^

    Ben has a blog entry about that. I think I'll cross-pollinate you guys. ^_^

  10. "cross-pollinate"? Flowers we ain't... But I can also relate to MacGyver.
    Sometimes one track minded people simply aren't impressed with Simple Solutions no matter how efficient they are.