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Are you working too hard?
By Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas

Many people work ever harder, and push themselves to the limit in order to demonstrate concern, loyalty and commitment. Executive car parks are full from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. Mobile phone calls and emails never stop. Those who do not have long lists of 'things to do' and yellow post-it notes all over their VDU screens feel vulnerable and fear the next headcount reduction cull. Yet, research projects at the Centre for Competitiveness to identify critical success factors for competing and winning consistently reveal that much activity within organisations, many management fads and a great deal of external advice from consultants and others are irrelevant, counter productive or destroy value.

Corporate decision makers need to review whether those for whom they are responsible are striking the right balance between activity and thought, and between action and reaction. Maybe less 'input' and fewer interruptions would mean more valuable outputs. We must be more selective and safeguard quality time for reflection, reassessment and looking ahead. Companies should encourage key staff to take sabbaticals, while longer vacations for bureaucrats and legislators might mean less regulation and red tape. Creative insights invariably occur outside of the 'world of work', when doing something different allows alert individuals to spot new patterns, links and relationships. People require quiet spaces such as patches of grass along riverbanks where they can sit, dream, meditate and think.

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, Author of 'Transforming the Company: manage change, compete and win' (Kogan Page, 2002).

Transforming the Company, Manage Change, Compete and Win’  by Colin Coulson-Thomas
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