book.gifRead Part 1 of my interview with Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, authors of Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It. Check out the reader comments, too. They’re interesting.

PINK: You’ve done a great job of anticipating these “Yeah, buts” — and even have a whole chapter telling people how to respond. Let me give you a chance to respond to the “Yeah, but” I hear the most when I tell other people about ROWE: “Some people just can’t handle this. They need supervision, guidance, and structure.” What say you to that?

RESSLER & THOMPSON: This is one of our favorites! Our response: how do you know that some people can’t handle ROWE? Don’t assume what you don’t know. If you and your employees work on the clear expectations that are expected in order for them to keep their job, then set them free to reach their outcomes. Worrying that some people can’t handle ROWE is a waste of time. It’s paternalistic thinking that just doesn’t have a place in the 21st century. We’ve found that there is so much productivity being left on the table in companies because managers are orchestrating everything according to their liking. Unleash the untapped potential around you – it’s waiting to come out!

PINK: One of the barriers to a Result-Only Work Environment is what you call “sludge.” What is that and why does it matter?

RESSLER & THOMPSON: Sludge is the toxic language in the work environment that judges how other people are spending their time. It sounds like: “Did you hear Mark is doing that work from home thing? No way he’s working – he’s watching TV and probably doing laundry.” “I can’t believe Amy left again at 3:00 other day. She’s not even putting in close to 40 hours.”

Sludge has absolutely nothing to do with the work that people are accomplishing. It is rooted in the old beliefs we have about how, when, and where work needs to happen – in an office building, between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 Monday through Friday, in 40 hours or more, etc. Sludge is used to hold our place in the work environment – to show that we’re more dedicated worker than the next person. Sludge keeps the Industrial Age rules about work alive and well.

To move into the future, we need to eradicate Sludge from our work environments. To give it a shot, next time someone Sludges you about the time you come in to the office or the time you leave, ask “Is there something you need?” Shift the focus right back to results. Then bask in the feeling of not having to justify how you choose to spend your time.

PINK: Let’s talk real world. Best Buy has a ROWEin its corporate offices — thanks to you. Where else is this new approach being put into place? And is it harder or easier to get traction for this sort of thing in an economic downturn?

RESSLER & THOMPSON:: In addition to the 3,000 people at Best Buy Corporate that are ROWE, we wanted a small company to get on board to show that this isn’t just a “big company” thing. We’re proud to say that J.A. Counter & Associates (20 employees) in New Richmond, WI is also an authentic ROWE. There are several other companies worldwide that have purchased our ROWE Launch Kit that are implementing ROWE right now.Getting traction for ROWE from the management ranks is always a challenge, regardless of the state of the economy. An economic downturn may be used as an excuse for not wanting to explore ROWE, but there are other fears underneath that resistance. Dig for them. Address them. Remember, people have a right to control how they spend their time as long as the work gets done. And that is worth fighting for. 

3 Responses to “ROWE, ROWE, ROWE your company — Part 2”

  1. Pekka says:

    This is exatly the way I’ve done everything before I got to work – the getting up @6 and drivin through traffic takes me almost 2 hours daily – 10h a week and 500h each year. Just to get to the office. That’s 13 workweek of getting to work, if I’d go to work outside rush hour, I’d be spending 40min a day on travel.

    When I doing my Bachelors, I was getting in class when I had slept enough – meeting people on my schedule and finishing work on time, maybe during the night, but still I got it done by due date. I could do a lot of things and travelled when it was cheap – not during holidays. But still I delivered.

    BTW. Greetings from Finland =)

  2. Nicola says:

    I find the whole premise fascinating, and very appealing. I work for government, however, and wonder if such an idea could ever work where there is massive concern about accountability for spending the public dollar. Despite that, I think ROWE would be wonderful to try in the public service and am speculating that, if anyone ever had the courage to trial it, would give taxpayers better ROI than they get now. While being without both power and influence in my workplace, I’ll be following this notion closely to see how it progresses elsewhere. You never know … I might one day be able to persuade someone in authority to examine it in our workplace’s context.

  3. Cali & Jody says:

    @Pekka – hello, Finland! You are exactly right. The same thing is happening here in the U.S. – graduates who have done everything on their own time (and succeeded) are entering the workplace and are treated like children again. It’s not productive and it’s not the smartest utilization of our most important asset – people. We’re glad to have people like you across the borders helping the ROWE movement!

    @Nicola – if there is anywhere that ROWE *should* be utilzed, it’s in government agencies for exactly the reason you mention: there is massive concern about accountability for spending the public dollar. ROWE eliminates waste and focuses everyone on common goals. Nicola, listen closely: you are not without power or influence. When we started ROWE, we were in the middle of a very large organization and did not have what they call “weighted business cards”. We never let that stop us from charging forward to make change happen. You *will* find an opportunity to make an impact, and you’ll succeed. And when you do, we want to hear about it!