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Jonathan Flower
Jonathan Flower

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Are you a function or a problem solver?

These quotes from Great Work Great Career by Covey, served as a paradigm shift for me and how I manage software development teams effectively.

First Covey tells a story about a 30 year old man who had tremendous potential after graduating from college.

I asked him several questions.
β€œWhat is your company’s highest strategic priority right now?’ He couldn’t say.

β€œI make out a report once a week for my boss…but I don’t think he reads it.”
This young man looked crestfallen. I felt deeply for him - his energy had drained out of him, his vigor was gone, his dreams of making a great contribution had shrunk down to fulfilling a mere job description. He had allowed himself to be reduced to a β€˜job description with legs’

Then Covey explains Peter Drucker’s concept of a Knowledge worker:

In the Industrial Age, people simply asked, β€œWhat’s my job description?” Now, according to Peter Drucker, β€œKnowledge Age workers must learn to ask, β€˜What should my contribution be?’ … If you have an Industrial Age paradigm, you see yourself as a tool used by others. On the other hand, if you have a Knowledge Age paradigm, you see yourself as a solution provider who brings a singular set of tools to solving significant problems.

Industrial Age Paradigm - I am my function. I’m a job seeker. I’m a gear in an organizational machine.
Knowledge Age Paradigm - I make a significant contribution. I’m a problem solver. I am a human being with a portfolio of unique strengths - talents, passion and a conscience.”

Times of London reports, β€œMany workers are so ill at ease in the office that they spend a large part of the day simulating work. That generates more negative stress than excessive working. The result is serious but hidden depression in the office.”
You are a knowledgeable, skilled, proactive, thinking and creative human being with unlimited potential; and you can leverage that portfolio of strengths to make your own unique contribution.

Another takeaway here is how this relates to burnout. Working on a software development team with an Industrial Age Paradigm is a great way to burnout.

Great articles diving into the concept of a knowledge worker:
Peter Drucker – The Focus on Contribution
Knowledge Workers - Who They Are and What They Do
Making Knowledge Workers More Productive: Insights from the Works of Peter F. Drucker | by Frank J. Wyatt | On Business Process Management and Workflow Automation | Medium

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