August 3, 2010

Opportunity, Responsibility, and Visibility

I’m reading the book “The Soul of a New Machine”, and as part of inteviewing one of the hardware engineers about what he wanted in a job, and why he joined up with the company, Data General, he said:

“I wanted opportunity, responsibility, and visibility.”

That really struck a chord with me. Later that day I got to thinking that those are the same things I love in work.

The thing is, none of those things are ever given. They have to be earned. The flip side of those three desireable traits in a job are behaviors that you can take on as an individual.

  • To get opportunity you must have tenacity, the willingness to fight a problem until it is solved. Only when you push hard will you both conquer hard problems, and then be asked to solve hard problems in the future.
  • To get responsibility you must demonstrate accountability, the willingness to be accountable for your mistakes and estimates for when you think work will be completed. Only after demonstrating that you can, and want to be held accountable for your quality of work will you earn the trust necessary to grow in responsibility.
  • To get visibility you must volunteer to take on challenging projects, and to step outside your comfort zone. No organization wants to put someone in charge of a project that they don’t want to be in charge of. When you can find willing volunteers for work, you almost always get higher quality output.

Oppotunity/tenacity, responsibility/accountability, and visibility/volunteering fit well with my work, passion, choice mantra, as they are key elements that will help you progress from just working, to working on things you’re passionate about, to achieving a sense of freedom and choice in your work and life.