Saturday, March 1, 2008


One of the reasons I started this blog last September was because I've supposed to have been journaling for the past 18 months for my Executive Leadership class that I'm taking through the Augsburg MBA program. But along the way I quickly forgot that original intent and haven't posted hardly at all on those sort of issues. I'll try to do better in the next several weeks.

This morning we had a good Exec Leadership class with more terrific guest speakers. The instructor focuses a lot on helping us find what our personal values are and then encouraging us to lead that way. And it always gets me excited to think about who I am and what I believe in and what I want out of life.

Over the course of the program we have had several guest speakers who are successful business people and quality people outside of work. One disturbing thread through each of them that Brooke has perceptively noted is that they all talk about the importance of work-life balance, while at the same time admitting that they do not have such a balance. They work a lot. So what does that imply? It seems to point to the state of today's American business model where the only way to make it to the top and be admired by your peers is to work 70 hours per week.


Mikko said...

I agree that the number of business leaders who talk about "work-life" balance... but don't live it ... is very disturbing.

I think it should be perfectly reasonable to work 50 hours a week (say 7-5 with an hour off for lunch and errands), with a few hours of time on weeknights and the weekend.

The idea of a 40-hour work week, and that's it, is a thing of the past I'm afraid -- if you want to get ahead. There's way too many afterwork events and evening/weekend firedrills that require a business leaders attention.

Most business leaders are neck deep in the meetings/social structures/politics that got them to the top in the first place.

I also see a ton of inefficiencies in how both I (and other business leaders) conduct meetings and how we spend our time.

Something has got to give.

JRM said...

What we really need is a deep dive into changing corporate policies to allow employees to work the way that they want to, no matter where they are or what time it is. Work-life balance is no longer about balance; it's about integration. Work and life so intertwined so that we can't see where one ends and the other begins. Employees need to be free to prioritize their lives as they see fit, altering their schedules on a daily basis to fit whatever they have going on from both the work and life perspective. And employers need to be forward-thinking enough to realize that this is the work-wave of the future. And those employees will likely produce more and be more company loyal to boot.

Kirk said...

Amen jrm. It seems like a small group of tech firms are good at the flexible work day, but it certainly hasn't been adopted by the bulk of corporate America. I remember back in '99 my company was experimenting with tele-commuting. I don't think its progressed one step for us since then.