Giving Your 150%: Why Effort Inflation Shouldn’t Be Confused with Work that Produces Results - (Archived)

We came across a blog post from GovSupervisor about the concept of ‘effort inflation’ that absolutely caught our attention. Is your organization dealing with a lack of strategic alignment, resulting in unfocused employees using their energy on the wrong things?

It was an exhausted Friday night and, full disclosure, the only fuel left in the tank was directed to channel surfing. I came across a rockumentary on Iron Maiden and noticed a comment by one of the band members that on tour in South America they had to play “at 150%.”

This was striking because 24 hours earlier in a coaching session the client made a reference to working “at 150%.”

Questions of synchronicity aside, what is going on in the workplace? We used to hear about giving it 110%, and so like inflation maybe it’s just gone up over time. But I have a different theory, in two parts.

The first is that when people are working at 150% (and let’s leave aside here things like performance art, which require extraordinary feats – I’m talking knowledge workers, day to day) the strategy has collapsed.

What is strategy? According to the famous Michael Porter at Harvard, It is deliberately choosing the activities that will give the organization a competitive advantage. In government, we can call this ‘program effectiveness’. But here’s the kicker about Porter’s definition: he says this choosing occurs in a context of limited resources, the most fundamental law of economics.

This means you can’t do everything. The organization has to really think about how to use its resources to create that competitive advantage or effectiveness.

Be sure to check out the full GovSupervisor post here.

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