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Do less this year but do it better

来源:FT中文网    2018-01-12 07:01

        Typically, people start a new year resolved to achieve more than the previous year.        通常情况下,人们会在新年伊始踌躇满志,决心实现比上一年更多的成就。
        How, though? Some people make what I have always thought is a frankly strange commitment to “say yes to everything”. Others do the opposite, resolving to say no more frequently. In reality, either of those extremes could lead to bad outcomes.        然而怎么去做到这一点呢?有些人决心“对一切都说可以”——我始终认为这种决心相当古怪。其他人则相反,决心更频繁地说不。在现实中,这两种极端都可能导致糟糕的结果。
        Take the commitment to be busy, busy, busy all the time. Workaholism beckons for those who cannot turn down requests. Being absorbed in the task can mitigate workaholism’s worst effects, according to an Academy of Management Discoveries study published last year, but still anxiety about the job or obsessive ambition paves a pathway to health problems.        拿一直保持忙碌状态的决心来说。“工作狂”召唤着那些无法拒绝请求的人。根据去年发表在《管理学会发现》(Academy of Management Discoveries)上的一篇研究报告,专注于任务可能减轻工作狂的最糟糕影响,但对岗位忧心忡忡或者过于野心勃勃仍然可能导致健康问题。
        Accumulating multiple commitments poses other risks, too. If you try to do more than one thing, you will not be as efficient as if you concentrated on a single task. A 2001 paper found that people toggling between tasks took longer to solve complex maths problems than those who concentrated on one job. A separate 2015 study of Milanese judges determined that those who tried to handle several cases simultaneously took longer to complete them.        决心做多件事情还会带来其他风险。如果你尝试做不止一件事情,那么你就不会像专注于一项任务那样达到高效率。2001年发表的一篇论文发现,与那些致力于一项工作的人相比,忙于在多项任务之间切换的人,要花费更长时间来解决复杂的数学问题。2015年对米兰法官的另一项研究表明,那些试图同时处理多宗案件的法官,结果花费了更长时间才完成审理。
        Still, the cult of busyness is a powerful one. If you started this year with a view to doing less, you will quickly have felt guilty about the jobs you turned down — and the possible missed opportunities. I am always reminded of overachieving sitcom shrink Frasier’s retort, when his brother Niles reminds him that “less is more”: “Yes — but if less is more, think how much more ‘more’ will be!”        话虽如此,人们对忙碌的崇拜是强大的。如果你在新的一年以减少工作为目标,你很快就会对自己拒绝的工作、以及由此可能错失的机遇感到内疚。我总是想起情景喜剧中过于进取的心理医生弗莱泽(Frasier)的反驳,当他的兄弟奈尔斯(Niles)提醒他“更少就是更多”的时候,他脱口而出道:“没错——但如果更少就是更多,那么想想‘更多’将会多出多少吧!”
        Academic Morten Hansen, whose book Great at Work        学者莫腾•汉森(Morten Hansen)是挪威人,他的新书《玩转工作》(Great at Work)本月出版。为了说明区分轻重缓急的重要性,他举了其同胞罗尔德•阿蒙森(Roald Amundsen)的例子,后者于1911年赢得抢先到达南极的竞赛。
        is out this month, is Norwegian. To illustrate the importance of prioritising, he cites his compatriot Roald Amundsen, who won the race to be the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911.        在英国,这段历史通常被讲述为一个英雄失败的故事:探险家罗伯特•法尔康•斯科特(Robert Falcon Scott)和他的团队抵达南极,却发现挪威国旗已经在那里飘扬。在返回的路上,他们被卷入肆虐的冬季暴风雪,在距离安全营地仅数英里的地方在南极的雪和黑暗中死去。
        In the UK, this is usually told as a tale of heroic failure: explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his team arrived at the pole to find the Norwegian flag flying. On the return leg, they were caught in the encroaching winter blizzard, falling a few miles short of safety and perishing in the Antarctic snow and dark.        汉森认为,阿蒙森的成功归因于他执着地专注于只使用狗和雪橇来运送团队。斯科特的资源更为充足:他筹到了更多的钱,拥有更大的团队,而且还有包括机动雪橇、小马和狗在内的多种选择。但是斯科特的方法过于复杂——这位海军军官有一次不祥地说起他的“混乱的船队”——事实证明这是致命的。不同的英国团队要在不同时间出发,并试图协调行进速度。专注于获得最好的狗、最好的训练员和最好的训练的阿蒙森要快得多。汉森写道:“当阿蒙森到达南极时,他领先了300英里。阿蒙森选择了一种方法,然后娴熟掌握了它。他做得更少,然后执着地投入其中。”
        Prof Hansen believes Amundsen’s success came down to his obsessive focus on using only dogs and sleds to transport his team. Scott was better resourced: he had raised more money, had a larger crew, and set off with multiple options, including motorised sleds, ponies and dogs. But the complexity of the Scott approach — in an ominous insight, the naval officer referred to his “disorganised fleet” — proved fatal. The different British cohorts had to set off at different times and try to co-ordinate their speed. Amundsen, who had concentrated on getting the best dogs, the best handlers and the best training, was far quicker. “By the time Amundsen reached the pole, he was more than 300 miles ahead,” writes Prof Hansen. “Amundsen had chosen one method and mastered it. He had done less, then obsessed.”        这句妙语否定了一个假设,即仅仅说不就会自动带来更好结果。汉森告诉我,做得更少“有一个苛刻的前提条件……你必须执着于(你选择做的事情),因为如果你不执着地投入,你就不会比那些做更多事情的人有优势”。
        That catchphrase is an antidote to the assumption that just saying no will automatically yield a better outcome. Doing less “comes with this harsh requirement that . . . you have to obsess [about what you choose to do],” Prof Hansen told me, “because if you don’t obsess you don’t have an advantage over the people who are doing more things”.        汉森研究了5000人的表现,发现那些奉行“做得更少、然后执着”策略的人比其他人的得分要高出25个百分点。他和他的团队还发现,对于“激情”是成功关键的假设是危险的。事实上,激情可能导致人们走错路、失败或者精疲力竭。在这项研究中表现最好的是那些将工作热情与某个目的联系起来的人;这种目的可能很简单,比如为组织做出有意义的贡献。
        Prof Hansen studied the performance of 5,000 people and discovered that those who pursued a strategy of “do less, then obsess” ranked 25 percentage points higher than those who did not embrace the practice. He and his team also found that it was dangerous to assume that “passion” was a key to success. In fact, passion can lead people down the wrong road, to failure or burnout. The best performers in the study were those who matched passion for their job with a purpose, which could be as simple as making a meaningful contribution to the organisation.        要当心合作太少——或者太多——的危险。虽然分享重要信息可能至关重要,但是“打破筒仓”的时髦潮流可能过头。专家小组可能会被他们不需要的“有帮助”的外部意见分散注意力。汉森指出:“想想现实中的玉米筒仓:如果你把它们打破了,那么到处都是玉米。”
        Beware the danger of collaborating too little — or too much. While sharing important information can be critical, the fad for “busting silos” can go too far. Expert teams may be distracted by “helpful” outside contributions they did not need. “Think about actual corn silos: if you bust those, you’ve got corn everywhere,” points out Prof Hansen.        最后,不要以为实现更多完全取决于个人。管理者有责任帮助员工自律。很多时候,组织通过完成的工作量(比如律师事务所的计费时间)来衡量成功,或者尝试让团队规模匹配项目重要性。然而,有时候最好的方法可能是简化流程,缩减团队规模,或者实行新的战略焦点。今年你和你的团队怎样才能实现更多?试着拿走一些东西吧。
        Finally, do not assume that achieving more is entirely down to the individual. Managers have a responsibility to help employees exercise self-discipline. Too often, organisations measure success by volume of work done — the law firm’s billable hours, say — or try to match the size of a team to the perceived importance of the project. Sometimes, though, the best approach may be to simplify a process, cut the size of a team, or impose a new strategic focus. How can you and your team achieve more this year? Try taking something away.        译者/裴伴

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