I’m frustrated as all hell today, and it’s the same kind of thing that frustrates me often. I have a big problem when people don’t understand the difference of what they’re doing “IN” their business, versus the perspective required to be “ON” the business.
IN the Business
When you’re IN the business, it’s like not yet being awake in “The Matrix.” You only know about the systems within the context around you. This means you willingly and cheerfully fill out TPS reports and fax copies to the ferret office because that’s what’s always been done. You follow process without question. You trudge through everything in the same order, because why not? That’s what they pay you for, right? Right?
ON the Business
By the way, is this someone’s concept and I’m ripping it off? Tell me if you’ve heard about this before, because I’d like to give credit and point people towards the proper book.
When you’re ON the business, you see with perspective. You know where the context of the situation begins and ends, and this means you can choose to use a different context, follow the rules, throw everything out the window, whatever. You understand that not everything should receive the same process. You understand that with few exceptions the work you’re doing won’t kill someone or otherwise impact enough people’s lives that it must be treated like a tombstone moment.
Being ON the business means that you’re always thinking from two or three levels above your specific position. You’re perceiving how this little bit of cog-work connects to the greater good. XPLANE has a really cool poster at their site showing how all the various parts of HP Mexico connect together. I think that if you’re ON the business, you’re aware of the map. If you’re IN the business, you think there’s nothing but the inbox and outbox of whatever tasks you perform.
For some reason, project managers seem especially guilty of being IN-businessers. They are paid to keep processes in order, and maintain the look and feel of information within a company. To that end, they are absolutely the MOST plugged into the IN-business perspective. Going back to the Matrix analogy, they’re the program agents. “Mister Anderson, have you revised the requirements document to version 1.7 to reflect the removal of commas in section 2.1.4?”
Get an ON-Business View
There are plenty of people who can see IN-business, and who LIKE IT THAT WAY. (Freaks!) And it’s important to get IN-business from time to time, because that’s where actual stuff gets done. ON-business is just a vantage point that helps one decide their strategy. You actually have to get IN to do work.
By developing an ON-business perspective, you gain immediate power over your IN-business-only brethren. You can see things, react to them, push back where appropriate, and immediately become more of an asset to your organization or your own business, if you’re the boss. Key things to consider when you’re on-business.
- There’s more than one way to do ANYTHING.
- Fix roadblocks IN-business by seeing their effects ON-business.
- People IN-business can’t usually comprehend ON-business.
- Those that do, make use of it.
- Always tie your ON-business perspective and discovery to your IN-business work.
Above all else, remember that there’s what needs getting done, and there’s what we do during a given day. They rarely (if ever) equate. Instead, see where you can pluck away the strangeness of the IN-business world and replace it with more streamlined ways to get things done.
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