Burst or busy?

Excellent piece by Anne Zelenka in Web Worker Daily.

The busyness economy works on face time, incremental improvement strategic long-term planning, return on investment, and hierarchical control. The burst economy, enabled by the Web, works on innovation, flat knowledge networks, and discontinuous productivity.

Here are some of the polarities she suggests:

Busy: Immediate response to email required.

Burst: Use better ways to communicate when available including blogs, wikis, IM, chat rooms, SMS, and RSS.

Busy: Always available during working hours.

Burst: Declarative availability.

Busy: Long-term planning rules.

Burst: Try agile experimentation and fast failure instead.

As Anne says at the end, we need both busy and burst approaches – and many of us will work somewhere in-between.

2 thoughts on “Burst or busy?

  1. Graham Hill


    As you say, an interesting article.

    I find myself naturally a combination of both, which varies with the things I have to do. For instance. At the moment I am very busy with my Interim Marketing hat on preparing a couple of direct marketing campaigns. Coordinating all the different aspects of the campaigns and the people who need to deliver them is just busyness through and through. There probably isn’t any other way.

    At the same time, I am very bursty (there must be a better word than this) with my Consultant hat on researching the economics of multi-sided markets for a book chapter I am writing on ‘Valuing Conversations’. I do the research in my spare time, ask people at work who might be able to help and think about what the research means when I have a quiet moment. Serendipity definately comes in bursts.

    Anne is right. We need both busyness and burstiness in different proportions.

    Graham Hill

    Independent CRM Consultant

    Interim CRM Manager

  2. Shawn Callahan

    I think I’ve noticed a way to tell if you’re in a busyness environment. Watch how people introduce themselves. If it looks like then it’s busyness. “Hi, how’s it going?”

    “I’m so busy. Flat out actually.”

    “Me too!” “It’s crazy out there.”

    “Do you want to get a coffee?”



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