I've been thinking about what "work" is recently.

An organisation I worked at for over 4 years was one of the high profile quangos that is being shut by the coalition government. I worked hard there, I believed in what we did in my little corner of the universe. I learnt a lot. So I've been taking this talk of quango "non-jobs" quite personally.

I've also come back from maternity leave into this new climate (do I get points for mentioning "the climate" as if its the weather?). Nearly a year off has given me a fresh perspective on what I do in my day job.

At a big work meeting last week several things got me thinking.

  • Talking about people's time as "resource" can blind us to the fact that this is about line managers agreeing that people can spend their time at work doing particular things. its about decisions and about doing things. "resource" might be a rather dangerous shorthand in our talk.
  • A keynote speaker spoke about leadership, and said things like "give your people a sense of purpose", and "people copy what they see". I found it uncomfortably patronising and it just didn't reflect the world I work in, a world of intelligent people who don't need leading, they just need managing, as in, given the time, space and mandate to do things.
  • A little bout of existential angst about what the h*ll is it I do in my job anyway? I don't *make* things! I sort of … make things happen, kind of, if people let me, I create spaces for good things to happen. I think? And I stop bad things happening.Or try to.
  • I've noticed some references to how to do staff development when there is no budget, and I've been hearing about unconferences, barcamps, peer learning. And realising I've had little formal "training" in the last 5 years, but I've learnt lots, and I've acted on it, and I need to digest it. I'm a knowledge worker, learning and managing knowledge is a core part of my job. I don't care much about certificates but I do want to feel I'm progressing with my understanding.

So …

With all this muddling my head on the way home day I spotted an interesting looking book at the station shop, so went to look it up. What timing!

"Drive" by Daniel Pink

We want: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose. Yes, I do. Even better, there's one of those fantastic RSA Animate films to accompany his talk. It even mentions open source. It made me punch the air with delight. WATCH IT!