Thought Bubble: Three Attributes of a Good Result

WARNING: Every now and then a new thought arrives, which may or may not just be bleeding obvious to everyone else. From now on, I’m going to bravely post them. Here’s the first: 

It’s interesting to note the different ways we measure things. What really constitutes a good result?

As I reflect on work and life with colleagues and friends from a diverse range of professions, we’ve noticed that we measure effectiveness in one of three ways: Quality, Quantity or Uniqueness.

It’s the difference between thinking: ‘A lot got done’, ‘It was done well’ or ‘It’s not been done before’.

Sure, in retrospect, we want all three. We all want to do things well. We all want to be effective in getting more things done than less.  And we all feel a sense of satisfaction in making a kind of personal unique contribution.

But we don’t value all three exactly the same. And with a limit to the things we can do with a full life – it shows.

One person will feel satisfaction the MORE they get done, even if the quality is not what it could have been. They value Quantity. They’re thrilled to have gotten so much done.

Another person will do less, but will be incredible attentive to how WELL they did. Were all the details completed? Does it work properly? It is properly finished? They value Quality.

Then there’s Uniqueness. This person has either Quantity or Quality as their second motivating attribute, but primarily approaches their tasks seeking to avoid what has been done before. These people seek out the maximum amount of vocational freedom. They’re less than satisfied to have done more expected, even if’s it’s perfect, if it’s very similar to the ‘standard‘.

Our primary motivating attribute will drive our approach and shape the result. And what we perceive as being a good result. And there is bound to be some tension over that.

A good result for Quantity, can be a line of unfinished, shabby patch up-jobs in the eyes of Quality.

An exciting result for Uniqueness can be an indulgent, lazy project in the eyes of Quantity.

Depending on our primary motivating attribute, our approach to tasks will be dramatically different – affecting, time, resources, standards, reputation and productivity – or stewardship.

There’s several reasons why awareness of this can be helpful:

1. You can be attentive to growing in a weaker attribute yourself.

2. You can have helpful discussions with others about exactly what a good mutual result is going to be.

3. You can build teams with a variety of attributes, as long as each understand each other’s perspective, in order to get a good overall result.

4. Under pressure, you can discern who the best person is for a task, based on the essential attribute of the task.

I’ve actually found this helpful personally, realising that I’m a Quantity person. I like to get a lot done, and am thrilled by accomplishing lots of tasks, especially challenging ones. In recent times, I’ve deliberately resisted this in favour of doing less things, but doing them better.  

This mean saying no to some opportunities, and seriously reflecting on which things I will hope I’ve totally nailed with the perspective of hindsight.

It’s humbling, and strangely satisfying.