Weekends, Sense-Making, and How Much I Hate Sports Analogies
A weekly post in which I share thoughts provoked by (some of) the great content I came across this week(ish).
Greetings and happy Mother’s Day! This week was packed, and I’m really pleased to have crossed off a bunch of to-dos that have been sitting on my list for awhile (triple whammy of passport, driver’s license, and health card renewal being a few of them).
As usual, there was also a glut of a great content out there. Here are a few highlights:
It Took a Century to Create the Weekend and Only a Decade to Undo It – Quartz, Katrina Onstad (book excerpt)
The clock became the ubiquitous new boss. Previously, workers tended to complete their work organically, in accordance with natural laws: the sherman’s tasks beholden to the tides; the farmer’s to the seasons. But with industrialization, clocks now determined the task, and the measure of productivity was how much labor could be wrung out of a worker over a period of time. Time had a dollar value, and became a commodity, not to be wasted. “Time is now currency: It is not passed but spent,” wrote historian E. P. Thompson.
“Before the weekend became official, many workers took it anyway. Between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries in England, vast numbers of employees didn’t bother to show up on Monday…”“Binge work leads to binge play, and many workers were hungover on Mondays, recovering from bar games at alehouses, outdoor dog fights, and boxing matches. They were paid on Saturday, and stuck in church on Sunday, so they stole that Monday to burn through their paychecks and have some fun.”
We abuse time, make it our enemy. We try to contain and control it, or, at the very least, outrun it. Your new-model, even faster phone; your finger on the “Close” button in the elevator; your same-day delivery. We shave minutes down to nano-seconds, mechanizing and digitizing our hours and days, paring them toward efficiency, that buzzword of corporate America.
Hiedegger, Ford, and the Art of Sensemaking – dscout, Carrie Neill
This fascinating interview with
Please Stop Using Sports Analogies in Your HR Speaking Engagements
There is no article to link to here, because the content that inspired this musing was a presentation I attended this past week. It was on a people and work topic, and it was actually a pretty good presentation. I took a few interesting points from it, and the overall thesis was one that I found generally relevant and compelling. But I’m not writing about those points or that thesis, because the most important thing I took from this event was this:
Please, please, for the love of Michael Phelps, stop using sports teams as analogies for organizations and work teams.
Why, you ask? This is why:
- Sports is actually not that much like work. Are there ways this analogy is sometimes useful? Sure. But it’s rarely the best comparison, and in complex and ambiguous environments (which are increasingly the reality for many of us), the idea that we can all just train harder, believe in each other, and be inspired to win by a coach figure (virtually always a white male) is a potentially damaging oversimplification.
- How many people in your audience work with teams of genetically-gifted, elite level professionals who have dedicated their entire lives to the narrow specialty they currently excel at? Yeah, probably no one, so please stop it with the Olympics references.
- It’s. Just. So. Done. It’s not new, or interesting, or – *Yawn*
- It’s lazy, and often a cheap and transparent attempt to create rapport or score emotional points with an audience. “See folks, we’re all just football lovers spinning around on this crazy planet called Earth…now, about my new book”. I want your deepest thinking, not shallow reverence for celebrity athletes.
- Know your audience. Are you speaking to HR people? The numbers say that most of them are going to be women. Sports at all levels continue to be hotbeds of sexism, inequity, and objectification for female athletes..so maybe let’s not hold them up as ideal models for our organizations, m’kay?
Do better, please.
Okay, that’s all the musing I have time for this week. Are the dual pursuits of peak productivity and aimless weekends compatible? Do the terms thick and thin data strike you as a relevant or useful distinction? Do you think I just need to focus on getting the ball in the net? Tell me all about it in the comments!
Image credit: Jeshoots via Unsplash.com