Creativity: Time versus Results in American Business

Post By Bryce Haymond ~ 29th February 2012

Any employers that require “time” out of their employees rather than results aren’t interested in getting ahead. They’re only interested in running a factory. The American business ethic says the longer you work, and the more hours you put in, the better you do. But there’s just one thing – it’s not true.

Back in the days of the industrial revolution, the amount of time spent was extremely important, because the more time you spent at the factory, the more widgets you cranked out. It’s not that way anymore. You can’t work longer, and expect more innovation. You can’t work overtime, and expect brilliancy. We’re not wired for that kind of output. In fact, studies have shown that our effectiveness and productivity sharply decrease after only 35 hours in a work week. After that, it’s just wasted time, burnout, stress, broken families, and dead ends.  Some economists have even suggested decreasing to a 21 hour work week, for the same reasons.

I like what Seth Godin has said about this:

“…the economy is now rewarding art and innovation and guts. It’s rewarding brilliant ideas executed with singular direction by aligned teams on behalf of truly motivated customers. None of which is measured on the clock.”

An entire movement has sprung up out of this called ROWE, the Results-Oriented Work Environment, and some businesses are headed in that direction. It’s what you do in your job that matters, not how much sleep you lose.

I look forward to the day when business in America realizes it’s kicking a dead horse and encourages its knowledge workers the time to work when, where, and how they may.

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