Tasks or initiatives?
For the longest time, just about all jobs were task jobs.
Inbox then outbox.
The assembly line, the ticket taker, the cook…
We learned how to hire for these jobs, measure them, manage the work to be done. Over time, we’ve figured out how to outsource them, mechanize them and pay as little as possible for them.
But in many pockets of our economy, the new jobs and the best jobs aren’t task jobs. They are jobs of initiative. Work that’s taken, not simply assigned. Work that can’t be easily forecast, and work that thrives with a different sort of teamwork.
These jobs often have a lot of task work mixed in, which is really confusing for everyone involved. Because reverting to task work feels safe and hiring for task work is easier. Apparently, people are supposed to learn how to do initiative work on their own and do it in their spare time.
Most organizations do an astonishingly bad job at creating, initiating and dancing with the next thing. And so they struggle and eventually become Yahoo.
First step: announce what the jobs around here are like. Hire for them and measure and reward appropriately.