15/10/19, Cate Nelson-Shaw

Don't Be Good, Get Better

Intent-Based Leadership, employees, robotics

The Future of Cities report on employment across the UK generated some eye watering headlines about how, in some areas, 1 in 3 jobs will be replaced by robots by 2026; and about how the inescapable march towards automation and digitalisation will have a profound impact on the way we work and the way organisations lead their people.

Jobs which are about being good, for example, those focussed on task fulfilment or the implementation of fixed processes and procedures, are being increasingly automated. So in fact organisations need people who have the headspace to think about being better – about improvement, innovation, change and responsiveness.

In a world where customers have a louder voice and have more choice, the challenge isn’t just to be good, it is to be better; and to be better we need more people in jobs where they have the autonomy to think, not just to do their jobs.

This can be neatly illustrated by considering the concept of Red Work – ie. the day to day processes and operations delivered at consistently good quality - versus Blue Work – ie. understanding how to be better.
Red Work v Blue Work

Both red and blue work are equally as important and indeed most organisations need a mixture of both in order to maintain competitive advantage through innovation - although this does, of course, depend on the nature of the business and the nature of roles within the business.

And innovation isn’t the sole preserve of the research and development team - it can come from anyone, in any area of a business, at any level of their career. It’s stimulated by encouraging people to come up with and try different ideas, different approaches and getting the perspective of people closest to front line who are often the real experts. 

If we only ever invite and value the “doing” and compliance we’ll always struggle to get people to think differently. So consider this, are your processes and procedures encouraging good work or better work?


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