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Monday, November 06, 2006

Opportunity Cost - II

In a follow-up to this blog post, Dr. Cem Kaner emailed me this:

I tried to post this to your blog, but I get an error message.

Peter Drucker provides deep wisdom for managers in a short book called "The Effective Executive."

An executive is someone who is responsible for the value of his own time. Most knowledge workers are (or should be) executives under Drucker's definition.

Drucker made the point forcefully that no executive will do everything well, and that many managers fail because they try to do too much "acceptably" rather than doing fewer things very well.

It has been decades since I had a job so simple that I could do all of it well, or so limited that I could find time to do all of it well. I have had to prioritize. And that includes not spending time getting better at things that I won't do.

I don't want to work on my weaknesses. I want to work on my ability to meet my strategic plan, whatever that is. Sometimes that requires fixing weaknesses, sometimes building on strength, often it requires developing a new strength in an area that wasn't seen previously as relevant.

I think it's interesting that my original post only offered two options: Work on your strengths, or work on your weaknesses. This is just two choices, a dilemma. Dr. Kaner is offering a third option; work on the things that map onto your goals (or strategy).

Jerry Weinberg calls this the "Rule of Three"; that when you feel limited to one or two options, you haven't thought things through enough.

Thanks for the insight, Dr. Kaner. Does anybody have a fourth?

1 comment:

Michael Bolton said...

4) Don't work on anything. Tolerate the occasional foul-up when it's of low cost.

5) Work on things that are neither current strength or weaknesses, but are things that you might anticipate have value.

6) Work on things that are unrelated to your current strengths, weaknesses, goals, risks, or projected needs, with the idea that the unrelated thing might give you insight into the others.

7) Work on something, unrelated to the previous six things, that merely gives you recreation and pleasure.

8) Work on learning itself.

9) If it's not one of the previous eight things, work on physical exercise, in the interest of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

10) Take a break, and work on nothing at all for a while.

11) Work on exercising the Rule of Three (which, by the way, is a specific case of the general rule, the Rule of At Least Three). I like the Rule of 11, myself.

---Michael B.