Most of jobs in our modern world come with a job definition; a list of tasks that is expected from the candidate to accomplish during his/her occupation of that role. Very convenient approach; setting expectations for both parties.
A convenient approach indeed, but extremely dangerous as well! what is dangerous is NOT the job definition, rather the mentality it instills in the mind of the candidate.
The candidate examines the list of tasks, believes that he can do it, he takes the job, and once he starts in the new role he just fits into the gears of the existing environment/process, regardless of how rusty it is, or how inefficient the mechanics of these gears are! The environment or the process, part of which this role is, could be extremely malformed, inefficient, slow, or of any negative attribute you can stamp on a process that is not 100% fulfilling its goal. Just fitting into this system will make you part of this failure! But for innovators and positive influencers this is absolutely not acceptable.
If you examine any success story that happened within a process or an established environment, you will find that those who caused this success have actually revolted against that process at one point; they didn’t just accomplish “what expected” from them, they didn’t just accept the constraints as proven fact, on the contrary; they took one step back, went out of their specific “role”, analyzed, criticized, and then took a brave action to change.
Fitting into gears can be expected, to a certain degree, in situations where a job description consists of “rigid tasks”, but it can still happen to roles whose job description consists of “introducing change” (e.g. consultancy). But how can this happen? by:
- Being overwhelmed by too many variables: a lot of things might be happening all at once in the environment we want to change, trying to solve all these at once will only result of waste of effort; it’s pretty simple and straightforward formula: x/y=z the bigger y is the less z is. And the solution is simple and straightforward too: focus on the highest priority, and traverse by time!
- Despair of change by rigid constraints: decision maker’s mentality, rigid environmental constraints, …etc. All of these can be solved by different ways depending on the nature of the constraint, but “despair” is the keyword here; once the one reach that stage, he has a serious problem. Despair should not be reached before many trials of corrections acts, and in all different ways, but once it is reached, action should be taken immediately; it’s absolutely not allowed to stay in this situation unless it’s a consciously-made decision. Otherwise, scenarios of escalation, or dropping off, should be valid.
- Time lapse: this is the most important point because it is so subtle; what starts as a trial to accommodate to a new environment/process on the promise of change in the “near” future, evolves into an acceptance of the ugly environment/process simply because we “got used to it”.
The best solution I’ve come across for this problem is talking to influencer people who change things to the better so often that you are constantly reminded that “change” and “making things better” is actually the real task to accomplish.
If you can’t find such people around you, just print yourself a paper “What can I do to make it better?” and stick this to your monitor!
These three points are not the only ones, many things can also drive to the Fitting-into-gears scenario, though, I find these are the most common.
Of course this doesn’t mean to revolt always and on anything, sometimes something is just right and better left intact.
Don’t just fit into the gears, but step out, analyze, criticize, and change.