Fake Work

December 4th, 2008 by Sharon Larsen

Ok, let’s admit it; we’ve all done it – fake work.  Rich and Ron call it ‘motion v. momentum’ but the principle is the same – being busy does not necessarily result in meaningful accomplishments, especially in the workplace.   I’m sure you know what I’m talking about and that you’ve had days running from dawn to dusk, one meeting after another, blackberry constantly buzzing.  How many times, at the end of one of those days, have you thought to yourself, “Am I making a difference for this company?”

One of Rich and Ron’s good friends, Brent Peterson, recently completed a book with Gaylan Nielson about this very subject – Fake Work.  The basic idea is that even though people may be working harder than ever, they are actually accomplishing less because their time and energy are not focused on the right actions – actions that are tied to the strategies of the organization.

Let’s take this to a personal level.  I’ve always assumed that being constantly connected and consistently in motion made me more productive, but is the work I’m doing fake work?  What does fake work even look like?  How can I recognize it so I know what to avoid?  According to the book, fake work can include meetings that waste time, meaningless paperwork, empty training initiatives, etc.  Sound familiar?

I took the test on the Fake Work website to determine just how little I am accomplishing.  I must admit I was a little apprehensive – it’s hard to take a test like that and not be nervous, especially when you know your bosses will see the results!  I don’t think I fill my time with fake work, but isn’t that the point Peterson and Nielson and Rich and Ron are getting at – you think you’re busy so you must be accomplishing something significant?  I am happy to report, however, that according to the results, I work in an environment that does very little fake work – that’s good to know!

In these crazy economic times, the companies that are going to survive will be those that are highly efficient and focus employees’ energy on strategic tasks.  There is no time for fake work in today’s economy!

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