We’re all task-based: the Culture of Being Busy

I’ve already talked plenty about the industrial revolution and production lines in the text “Agile Leader x Boss “Leader.” But I’d like to talk a little more about human behavior in a traditional company’s everyday life.

I began my professional career in a large multinational oil company that was profoundly hierarchical and could see everyone’s position by the desks and chairs’ size.

I remember when I was promoted to coordinator and was given an “L” shaped desk. The minute I sat at it, everyone knew I’d been promoted. And then as a manager, I got an office of my own!

I’ve always been a reasonable observer, and early in my career, I used to see the Director going back and forth, still carrying a notebook or pad, even on visits to the restroom.

One day I plucked up the courage (yes, courage: after all, we were separated by so many hierarchical levels that such an exchange was practically forbidden).

I asked him why he always went around with a notepad. He was amiable and invited into his swanky office me for a coffee. –“kid, let me give you some advice: never go around the company empty-handed otherwise, folks might think you’re not busy”!

The culture of being busy

The culture of being busy
Being very busy hinders us from focusing on what’s important

The above example illustrates the being-busy culture in companies. This culture is so strong that it hinders being able to prioritize or un-prioritize our actions.

To be Agile, we must prioritize our actions, work in short cycles, and focus on continuous improvement. Since we’re always so busy looking after the chickens, we never have enough time to fix the chicken coop hole.

In other words, being very busy hinders us from focusing on what’s important. Even if you’re an enlightened being and can work in this way, your process will still be heavily restricted if the company or sector doesn’t have this same culture.

To prevent this from happening, and to stop being essentially task-based, we must be aware that digital transformation demands Agile culture beating deep within the organization’s purpose and inside people’s hearts. Otherwise, we’ll just be a traditional organization (command and control) in an Agile costume.

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Andre Bocater
Andre Bocater
Andre Bocater Szeneszi is a partner at Knowledge21 and a cofounder at the startup WBrain Agile People. With extensive experience as an entrepreneur and Head Hunter, Andre is enthusiastic about People and Agile Culture. He is graduated in Business by Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio and had many specializations on Business: Financial Specialization by Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Buenos Aires, Strategic Management by Universidad de Belgrano, and Strategic Planning & Decision Making pela Berkeley University. As a guest MBA professor at the Fundação Getúlia Vargas, he taught classes for executives for many years, and now he is teaching Agile Culture in Latin America and Europe.

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