Be a Vampire

Your job, I often tell the junior people under my watch, is to make everyone above you more productive. Sometimes I call it a pyramid and that everyone’s job is to push everyone else up the pyramid to higher value activities. Right up to the top where the job is to identify and focus the organization on the problems of the world.

OK that’s one principle. Next one: waste. Wasting higher value resources is much more costly than lower ones. So to the extent that it can, an organization will concentrate the waste on lower value resources rather than higher ones.

So to lower level employees, who generate much more waste, work can look insane. Why do we waste so much time?

I often delegate tasks to others and when they’re done tell them to wait until I have the time to review it. Sometimes I totally forget and they sit idle for a while. Then when I get around to it I realize that I actually want something a bit different and make the redo everything. And they get pissed off a bit with me. And feel like they’re wasting their time.

I suppose that’s true but the waste would be much greater if I had been forced to walk down that blind alley. Likewise between me and my boss. So in a sense, organizational hierarchy makes Vampires out of its managers, sucking the life out of subordinates.

And I’m here to say that’s a good thing. The alternative isn’t no waste. The alternative is worse waste.

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