There’s an intriguing talk at TEDx by Jason Fried who argues that productivity isn’t currently optimized at the workplace. He argues that M&Ms (Managers and Meetings) – not twitter nor facebook, as so many have argued – are the main detriments to being able to get some work done. He concludes with three main suggestions on how to get rid of those net losses at work. Here he is at work:
TEDx – Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work
I found it quite compelling, but his argument about creative people was a bit incomplete. I too work in an office with a severe case of M&Ms, I loose an incredible amount of time by being interrupted and going to meaningless meetings. But, when it comes to being creative, it gets a bit more complicated. I think that what creative people need most is to be in their element.
For example, my buddy and I are creating a new web-based company/product – outside of my current job with the infinite number of M&Ms – and the way we discuss our project (in the way we are most creative) is by going to a local pub to talk about it deliberately. By being in our element, we can interrupt each other, be interrupted by the waitress or by someone who needs to squeeze through, but we feel comfortable and our brains feel free to create.
I do concede, however, that once we are done “creating”, we need some uninterrupted time to write and fill the gaps. Fortunately for us, we don’t yet have an office in which to work, so we do most of our labour in our respective homes with a bit of music, uninterrupted.
Note: keep an eye out for our new product, there will be much more to come on the subject.
I’ve been playing around with Google Labs’ Books Ngram Viewer and I wanted to try a few keywords to see what this amazing new tool for nerds could do. Basically, it lets you look up how often certain words and groups of words were used in Google’s book database.
After numerous attempts and a few anomalies (like typing “internet” generated results pre-1950), the results were fascinating. Lets take it for a spin:
According to the following graph, the future is behind us.
Future related (more like, future mentioning) books have taken giant steps back since the beginning of the millennium. According to the data, “future books” peaked around the year 2000. The latest data available, 2008, demonstrates that the level of future mentioning books is back to where it was in the 1970s era. Could it be that there was structural change after the tech-wreck bubble (2001 recession) or even slightly before that period in anticipation of the crash?
Strangely, however, I look at the technological improvements over the past ten years and I see revolutionary ideas one on top of the other (for instance, the iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Google stuff, Social Networks…). My first reaction is to blindly hypothesize that our current technological prowess may distract us from the future. If it is the case, could it be that technology is a detriment to forward-looking thinkers?
Note: the data in the graph is unsmoothed (raw) “Future” data from 1800 to 2008.