Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 7

In the book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Map 6 What’s Broken

In this chapter, Michael talks about how we can use some pain points in our lives to inspire Great Work.

He recommends we take the following steps:

Take a look at the map with the concentric circles in the book. Start in the inner circle and think about what we would like to change the various elements within our lives.

Work through the circles and write down at least two things we would like to change within each domain.

Go back to the list and circle the five possible candidates for Great Work that we are most drawn to.

Somewhere in the list will likely be some possibilities for Great Work – a challenge with the appropriate scale for us.

Also, pay attention to the little things that get in our way but we have chosen to put up with. Either we choose to handle them as they come, or we feel that we cannot be bothered to change those things right now.

Over time, we stop noticing some of those little annoyances. Reducing such accepted irritants one by one is a beautiful way to chip away at the things obscuring our Great Work.

Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 6

In the book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Map 5 What’s Calling You

In this chapter, Michael provided two maps that can be used to spot opportunities for Great Work. One map is a more general one of opportunities for Great Work in the whole landscape of our life. The other is more specific to potential opportunities at work.

Next, scan the chosen map and identify areas where there might be opportunities to do more Great Work.

Next, we add more details to the map, or we can customize the map by changing labels or replacing something that works better for us.

After the map is customized to reflect our life, we circle five areas where we think there might be opportunities to do more Great Work. Consider the following:

  • Is there a major project we have wanted to do for some time?
  • What part of the map do we naturally gravitate to?
  • Where could we enhance our work, upgrade our effort, and change it from Good to Great?
  • Where might we begin something new or spark something different?

Also, consider the following:

  • What did we learn by focusing on the big picture? What surprised us?
  • What obvious opportunities for Great Work would we have been almost too blind to see?
  • What might be possible in the less obvious places?
  • What do we know about ourselves that we had not fully realized before?

Finally, Seth Godin offers this secret to doing Great Work.

“My advice for creating Great Work is disarmingly simple: Don’t settle.”

“If you honestly believe that Great Work matters, then the issue is settled. You can and should start today. Identify where you’re settling, and stop.”

Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 5

In his book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Map 4 Who’s Great

Tapping the power of role models can encourage and pull us forward to the same standard of whatever they embody.

Michael suggests we consider the following steps when identifying heroes and their best work.

  1. Think of eight heroes, role models we think are inspiring for one reason or other.
  2. Role models do not have to be people as long as they resonate with us.
  3. Narrow that list to five.
  4. For each hero, list four of the characteristics that are so inspiring to us.

As we work through the list, we want to gain insights from the following:

  • Looking for patterns in our lineup of role models. Recurring themes or words can give clues about what we believe is essential and where the seeds of our Great Work might lie.
  • When we are feeling discombobulated and unsure of our next move, bring one of our role models to mind and ask:
    • How would [hero] behave right now?
    • What would [hero] do?

To take the hero concept even further, we should:

  1. Know that we are role models to others.
  2. Turn up the volume! Choose a characteristic that one of our heroes embodies.
  3. Build a picture montage of role models.

We want to answer the following questions by expanding and cementing the insights offered by the exercise.

  • What was most powerful about listing our heroes?
  • Who surprised us by showing up on our list? What surprised us?
  • What characteristic showed up that we have and that we take for granted?
  • What is become more precise about who we are and whom we want to be?

Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 4

In the book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Map 3 What Are You Like at Your Best?

Gaining insight into who we are – and who we are not – is a powerful act. Michael suggests that we ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Remember a time when we were at our very best.
  2. Write down twenty words that evoke how we were at this time.
  3. Think of another time when we were similarly rocking along, another moment when we felt we were at our best and most ourselves.
  4. Now narrow that list down to the ten words that seem the most powerful and on-target.
  5. See if we can amp up our words.
  6. Decide upon our final list of ten words and write them down in the left-hand column.
  7. It is time for the second part of the exercise.
  8. Pick one word in the left-hand column we have already completed. Find a term that describes the OK-but-not-so-great behavior we recognize as accurate.
  9. Just as we did with the words in the first column, play around and tweak these words. The goal is to find the most powerful and accurate way to describe our state of being when we are not at our best.

From the above exercise, we attempt to gain insights.

  1. One way to do Great Work is to figure out how we behave when we are doing Great Work and start to behave like that as often as possible.
  2. If we are feeling that we are not quite being our best selves now, scan the right-hand column and try to shift our behavior to the left column.

To further strengthen our behaviors, Michael suggested that we do the following:

  1. Once we have a set of words that works for us, consider putting it somewhere we can see it daily.
  2. Pick one of the word pairs and give it our attention for a day or a week.
  3. Keep working with our list.

Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 3

In the book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Map 2: What’s Great?

While past performance is no indicator of future results for many investments, that is not true regarding Great Work. Past peak moments of engagement and meaning are an excellent indicator of future Great Work that we can do.

A peak moment is when we can see and feel ourselves doing something more than we typically do. On those occasions, we step beyond where we usually stay and do something new or try something different. As a result, we also made an impact.

Acknowledging our past peak moments can help us clarify our definition of success. Michael suggests the following tactics for completing the mapping of this exercise:

  1. Think back and remember three or four peak moments in our working life.
  2. Add one or two peak moments outside our work life.
  3. Give each one of the peak moments a title and write them down.
  4. Write a sentence about what happened during those peak moments.
  5. Review the peak-moment stories and get insights from the map.
    1. As we remember those peak moments, what did they feel like for us?
    1. Take our list of themes and discuss it with someone who knows us well.
    1. Retrace the steps that got us there to those peak moments of Great Work.

Here are some Great Work wisdom nuggets from Penelope Trunk about taking a leap of faith.

“Ultimately, you are left with you. So really, doing Great Work is about knowing who you are and what you want. And here’s the crux of the matter: We can never know that for sure. You’ll never know everything about who you are, and you’ll never be able to completely describe what you want.”

“But we can’t wait forever. So we have to guess and take the plunge. Stepping forward to do more Great Work is in fact about a leap of faith that we take because the alternatives are so disappointing.”

Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 2

In the book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Map 1: Where are you now?

Identify the current mix of Bad Work, Good Work, and Great Work. Write down two examples of each type of work in each segment. Gain insights from the current mix, but, more importantly, consider what the ideal mix should look like.

Here are some questions that Michael suggests we ask ourselves.

  • What’s the main thing we noticed from the mapping exercise? What is the big takeaway we had about our mix?
  • What, if anything, surprised us?
  • What are the habits and patterns that got us to this current mix? What have we been saying yes to that we wish we had been saying no to?
  • What do we know now that we did not know before?
  • What do we want to remember from this exercise?

Here are some Great Work wisdom nuggets from Dave and Wendy Ulrich about working toward abundance.

Dave and Wendy define an abundant organization as a work setting in which individuals coordinate their aspirations and actions to create meaning for themselves, value for stakeholders, and hope for humanity at large. They have identified eight questions that individuals may ask themselves to help reveal and make more accessible meaning and abundance.

  1. What am I known for? (Identity)
  2. What am I going? (Purpose and Direction)
  3. Whom do I travel with? (Teamwork)
  4. What challenges interest me? (Engagement)
  5. How do I build a positive work environment? (Effective Connection)
  6. How do I respond to setbacks? (Resilience and Learning)
  7. What delights me? (Civility and Delight)
  8. How do I manage the transition necessitated by change? (Enabling Transition)

Michael Bungay Stanier on Do More Great Work, Part 1

In the book, Do More Great Work.: Stop the Busywork, and Start the Work that Matters, Michael Bungay Stanier shares his inspiration and techniques to help us do more work that matters.

These are some of my favorite takeaways from reading the book.

Borrowing from the great insights of graphic designer Milton Glaser, Michael outlines the three types of work we do: Bad Work, Good Work, and Great Work.

Bad Work is a waste of time, energy, and life. Doing it once is one time too many. Sadly, organizations have a natural tendency to generate Bad Work. It shows up as bureaucracy, interminable meetings, and outdated processes that waste everyone’s time. Bad Work also limits our productivity and our professional growth.

Good Work is the familiar, helpful, and productive work we do. We probably enjoy doing it and likely do it well. There is a range of good work. It could be engaging and exciting, and it could also be more mundane. However, we recognize its necessity and are happy to spend time doing it. We always need good work in our lives. At an organizational level, good work is vital as it helps the organization stay efficient, focused, profitable, and sustainable.

Great Work is work that is meaningful to us. It has an impact and makes a difference. Great Work is the work that matters as it inspires, stretches, and provokes us to grow. However, Great Work can also introduce uncertainty and discomfort.

Great Work is often new and challenging, as risk elements and possible failure exist. Great Work creates tension. On the one hand, we want to do more Great Work because the work matters, and we also care about it. On the other hand, because it is new and challenging, there is a chance that it might fail.

Despite the tension, Michael encourages us to do more Great Work for the following reasons:

  1. The desire to do more Great Work is not a call to abandon our everyday life and become a martyr to a cause. However, it is a call to do more meaningful work. We all have opportunities to do work that makes a difference, changes the status quo, reduces waste, and generally improves life.
  2. Great Work can be public, but Great Work is also private. Great Work should be meaningful to us. Only we can determine what matters to us.
  3. Great Work often is not wanted, but Great Work is needed. Great Work shows up at the intersection where what needs to change in our world meets what is important to us.
  4. Great Work can be easy, and Great Work can be challenging. Sometimes when we are doing Great Work, we are in a flow zone where things come easily, and time seems suspended. More likely, Great Work can be a time of grinding through it. It is a period where we need to show up when our muse is not whispering to us. It can be a time of uncertainty, groping forward when we are unsure where we are heading. It can also mean picking ourselves up off the floor and carrying on after “life” has just slapped us around a bit.
  5. Great Work is about doing what is meaningful and not about doing it well. It is often easier to deliver Bad Work and Good Work at an excellent level. Instead, Great Work is not so much about a standard of delivery. It is about a measure of impact and meaning.
  6. Great Work can happen in a single moment, but more likely, it is a project that develops over time. Great Work is often a commitment (or a journey) to making changes in ourselves and our world through the work we do. Perhaps not every minute of the journey is Great Work, but those minutes eventually add up to something meaningful.