When Alexander Dumas wrote his swashbuckling classic The Three Musketeers, he coined the phrase synonymous with this band adroit nobleman ‘All for One and One for All’. It is thought by some to be the truest and most symbolic example of teamwork. We (the team are all in this together).
Fast forward several centuries and our work lives are still all about ‘the team’ in many respects, only this time it’s about getting things done and getting them done within our allotted hours of work. But what exactly are we all in for? What are we striving to achieve in the modern workday. The modern work week. Are we all in for the work or just to work?
Let’s think about this proposition. How many of us can say we actually do work at work or do we respond to things about work. Has technology become a helper or a hindrance to work?
Real-time communication at work is amazing. Through email, instant messaging, texting we can know about things instantly. The feed of information is relentless. How much of this information though, is useful? How much of it enhances or enables us to do our work more effectively? How much of it distracts us from our work?
We can no longer kid ourselves. We are more and more distracted during the day, either having more meetings or having our day sliced up into smaller and smaller slices of the workday pie. We feel wedded to the stream of real-time conversations that bombard us all day long, feeling (perceived or otherwise) that if we don’t participate we are going to miss out on some vital piece of information. So, if we are doing this all day, if all we are concentrating on is the multiple conveyor belts of information streaming by all we are doing is reverting back to the industrial age. It’s like we’re factory workers tasked to watch data/information and what creeps up on us? Our work. The actual things we are employed to do. It doesn’t get done because we are following a dozen conversations afraid if we don’t we’re going to miss out. Your word won’t be heard and then it’s too late.
So what happens? We start working longer hours, not because there is more work to do, but because we’re not getting our work done at work anymore! Instead of being all for one and one for all, technology is forcing us to be all for one. Full stop. Technology is actually holding us back from the team, back from the work and back from uninterrupted period fo time to actually get work done. Spiralling out of control, we fall deeper into the morass of meaningless attack and disengage where the ultimate result will be all for one and all will fall.
It’s time for us to be creative. Time for us to think about how we respond to the information around us. Time to be selective and consider our answers or retorts to the information streams. Take the time to respond in a manner which is thoughtful, inciteful, challenging. It’s time to respond and not react. The Musketeers ‘conversations of blades’ would only ever parry-riposte. Just like the language of Dumas, let’s bring some sparkle back to our communication. Let’s bring some sparkle back to our work.