Tea and intangibles

Viv had an old fashioned afternoon tea filled with gossip. And reflects:

It was a different world in the days when this sort of afternoon tea was more common. No-one would deny that. Yet when it comes to work we still hear the mantra to work harder produce more. Measure the output. Be clear about outcomes. Pull the lever faster, produce more. Problem is, just like we’re not indulging in long afternoon teas so much, we’re not producing so many ‘things’ any more – a lot of work is knowledge work, thinking, engaging with others, generating ideas and solutions. Asking us to think harder is just silly.

Good stuff. So many people doing completely intangible work use the language of the tangible to create some illusion of productivity. HR folks are awash with “tools” none of which have any resemblance to something real like a spanner. Others moralise about the superiority of “action” over “talk” but (as Chris Corrigan pointed out a long time ago) it’s not as if any of them are actually beating metal or pulling up potatoes. And don’t get me started on “deliverables” which almost always seem to be the subsitution of one abstraction for another.

It’s a real con, this search for the fake-concrete.I often find much more satisfaction in holding space for some things that are less linear – which may well be as pleasant as afternoon tea, or sometimes more challenging and discomforting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.