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October 20, 2011

The Great Things at Work: Novelty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

Albert Einstein_4.jpg

"E" getting ready--and grateful to be a kid who could think on his own.

There are no right answers, proven-out formulas, connect-the-dots kits. The current winners--think Jobs, Murdoch, Eastwood, Drudge--are those who are custom-making solutions and brilliantly implementing them.

--Jane Genova

An acceptance of complexity, of subtlety, of unclear-ness. Do you hire people who have and embrace that with open eyes, excitement and vigor? And can think hard things through? Or do you attract the "isn't-there-a-form-for-this?" crowd? You know, the Cookie Cutter People. My problem--and yours: for more and more people in the workplace, novelty--which I view as gorgeous, sometimes elegant, and always beckoning--makes their heads explode.

There are several quality answers and solutions. Find one. It's what comes at you every day in any workplace with work worth doing. Complexity. Ambiguity. A messy problem. A "hard" thing. More and more employees don't like it. They can't deal with it. They want a "form", a template, a program.

But great work doesn't have "forms". Am terribly sorry about that. You will just have to think, and suffer through this, on your own. We hired you--all of you--to solve problems.

So here's a true gem we love--written in late December 2008--by Jane Genova at Law and More (subtitled "Deconstructing What Happens in Law"): "Managing Partners: Are Your Millennial Gen Associates Not Dealing With Ambiguity".

The issue for WAC? is not just one about the care-and-feeding of often delicate Gen-Y, the new, complex, and astonishingly intricate "tea cups" in your shop.

How do your lawyers, other professionals and staff of any generation with undergraduate degrees in, say, engineering (no Aggie jokes, please) and accounting deal with the wonderful chaos of hard, complex, messy, unruly and--"worst" of all--novel problems?

To me, those are the fun ones--and often the only issues I want. But novelty makes lots of us fold.

For many projects, for a great client or for your firm, Western logic and/or "the usual procedures" cannot provide all the answers. You either have that awareness--or you don't. Most lawyers just don't.

And it's the reason even good clients perceive us as "half-there" technicians and mechanics who, somehow years ago, lost their common sense and any degree of creativity we once might have had.

Posted by JD Hull at October 20, 2011 11:59 PM


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