“In time” works no more

Teamwork and communication skills

Expert work is typical in the post-industrial economy. A significant part of work is preparation, research, development and design work or organization related to a specific competence. Much of the work is group work, when competencies are combined into larger entities. Competence in team work and communication skills thus play a significant role in expert work.

A safe-sounding delusion

Self-direction has been widely found to be a good method of work organization in expert work. In addition to professional skills, competence is also required in managing one’s own work. Self direction as a noun in itself contains a seed of misunderstanding of the possibility that one can be misled, especially one unfamiliar with this organizational model. When carelessly used and poorly communicated, “self-direction” creates a safe auditory delusion about things that flow and get handled independently and effortlessly “by themselves”.

Self-direction is much more demanding than hierarchical leadership

There are many examples in the history of mankind of ideologies and ideas that, if successful, would have produced prosperity and happiness. Many ideologies are perfect in theory, “on paper.” And so is also self-direction. As a management model and ideology it is much more demanding than a hierarchical management model based on supervision, measurement and control. Individuals’ competence in managing and organizing their own work is worth of gold for businesses. 

Individual work inputs are interdependent

In general, the individual contributions of team members are interdependent. Performance of the entire team depends on the coordination of these work inputs. And successful collaboration between teams is possible when individual teams or work groups succeed in this coordination.

In time – that is: at the last possible moment -works no more.

It is human and normal that we are all different individuals, differently paced and we have different skills in organizing and managing our own work. One has a different heart rate in doing than someone else. One who may have used to be ready on time in the past is in trouble in a self-directed organization because “in time” – that is, at the last moment – works no more. Other team members’ own input cannot wait for the last-minute winner to be ready with their own contribution. Others must also be able to do their share so that the actual group work can happen, given that this is nature of the work.

Scheduling is the most demanding in self-direction  

It is the coordination and scheduling of team work that is the most challenging component of self-direction.. The schedule is not that “on next week Tuesday is a presentation for the client”. According to which team member’s work performance is the team progress time outcome generated? Who evaluates and decides on the necessary changes? What is the last possible time for the completion of an individual team member’s performance so that the team’s overall contribution can be realized? And so on. Even if much of the work is in pairs or in collaboration with a wider team, each team member’s own individual performance is still always needed.

Conflicts in teamwork > quality suffers > clients get nervous

According to the principle of continuous improvement, nothing is ever perfectly finished. There are always situations where work is not conducted or finished as intended. The reasons can be innumerable. If the reason is more broadly the shortcomings in managing one’s own work, the problem is a more permanent disadvantage to teamwork. Part of the teamwork nature is that the whole team also supports the last minute achiever. But it is not a sustainable procedure, nor does it build an atmosphere of trust. In addition, if the rest of the team has to regularly support the latecomer with their own work input, it generates conflicts in teamwork – and quality of the work suffers. And clients get nervous. 

In time = With difficulties at the last minute. And the work was left incomplete.     

When professional skills, competence in managing one’s own work and teamwork skills are combined, self-direction is the most effective method, especially in expert work. The company saves on management costs, in shorter turnaround times, in high levels of employee motivation and in peak productivity. The competence of individuals in managing and organizing their own work, as well as the success of teams in coordinating work inputs and outputs, is worth of gold to companies.

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Timo Keinänen Explorer, concept designer, service designer, art director, strategist, writer and designer.

”I belive that you should be yourself, as all other roles are already taken. If you have the opportunity to express an opinion, express your own.” 

Thougths, posts and opinions represent myself only.