- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Organizational Pathologies (8 of 10): Busy-ness

Almost there, two to go. I have posted one pathology per day (see the website) [1]

Busy-ness! From all organizational pathologies this is a tricky one because it comes disguised as healthy practice, so the chances of detection are often impaired.

Busy-ness is the opposite of business and the difference is just one letter.

Busy-ness is a semi-permanent state of continuous occupation. The difference between busy-ness and being really busy is that busy-ness is inflated with a lot of nonsense and usually carries a high degree of self-importance.

The being-very-busy people tend to express tiredness from time-to-time. It’s called being human. The busy-ness people wear a superman or superwomen invisible cape and have high dopamine levels. Not that I have tested them, but I am pretty sure. The reinforcement mechanisms of the brain can hardly cope with the demand. Blip, blip, dopamine, I have to go to another meeting. Blip, blip, dopamine, I am back-to-back today.

Healthy busy people may slide into busy-ness by the ancient  mechanism of flattering. They become busy-ness-on-demand. They become important. Indispensable. Of the type Charles De Gaulle (I have quoted so many times!); ‘the cemeteries are full of indispensable people’.

The problem with busy-ness is that it does not leave too much room for business. People are so busy that they can’t do business.

(A useful diagnostic test goes as follows. What happens with the busy-ness executive(s) go(es) on vacation? If the answer is not much, this is a good diagnostic parameter).

The cure for busy-ness is hard. Additions are hard to shift. Deprivation syndrome is a problem. So you have to go one meeting less at a time, one ‘sorry I can’t’ at a time, one delegation at a time. Easy to say.

As the old saying says, you don’t have to attend every argument for which you have ever been invited. [2] Equally you don’t have to be pulled into any conference call, webex and video conference.

Busy-ness leads to an extended negative consequence (in medical terms it’s what is called co-morbidity, or illness that tend to come together). This is the additional illness of measuring efficacy, efficiency and effectiveness by the number of activities: the Wednesday afternoon conference call, the twenty workshops, the monthly report, the number of people involved. The most measurable thing is not necessarily the thing that needs to be measured.

On this, tomorrow.