My Job Is To Stay Away From Work

Sometimes the best thing that I can do for my business is to make sure that I am not doing product or project work for clients. A statement about staying away from work seems like the wrong thing to say, but it is true. 

My job as a business owner is to make sure that customers receive something valuable that changes their lives. There are two ways that I can do this: 

I. I Do the Work Myself

I can do the work for the client. Client work is a simple one-to-one relationship. I do the job, the client pays me for the work. The problem with this approach is that I can’t provide work beyond the hours that I have in a week. If three clients want a total of 120 hours of work in a given week, I either have to turn some work down or do a poor job on all of the work. (I would choose to decline some work.)

II. I Build A System To Get The Work Done

Preferably, I should build a system where the work can be done effectively by other people. If I can create a standard process by which work gets done, it will be easier to scale the work. If three clients ask for 120 hours of work, I simply need to assign the process to 4 different employees at 30 hours of work apiece, and the work will get done. 

There are many reasons why we prefer to do the work ourselves rather than building a system where others can do the job. Some of these reasons are: 

  1. There is no tangible feedback on when your process is working. If you complete a piece of code, there is tangible and immediate feedback because the code either works, or it doesn’t. The customer either likes it or they don’t. 
  2. We expect that we can do the work better ourselves. We all suffer from the above-average effect. This phenomenon makes us all feel that we are better at work than other people. When designing a system, you need to let go and understand that two other people doing work at 80% of your capacity is still more work than you could do if you worked at 100%. You must let go of the desire to do everything perfect yourself. You build quality control into the system.
  3. Systems take a long time to prove themselves effective. Similar to the ‘tangible-feedback’ point. You won’t always know that your system is effective in the long-term until you have waited for the long-term. Sometimes it is easier to avoid long-term investment because we are afraid that it might be a failure. 

My job is to stay away from doing work within the processes and spend time creating the processes that will work. If I can design a system that delivers value, I will be much more useful than if I try to provide value one customer-hour at a time.