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The “art” of work…

I’m going to start with a quote from the NY Times…

There probably aren’t many jobs that can be reduced to rule-following and still be done well. But in many jobs there is an attempt to do just this, and the perversity of it may go unnoticed by those who design the work process. Mechanics face something like this problem in the factory service manuals that we use.These manuals tell you to be systematic in eliminating variables, presenting an idealized image of diagnostic work. But they never take into account the risks of working on old machines. So you put the manual away and consider the facts before you. You do this because ultimately you are responsible to the motorcycle and its owner, not to some procedure. — Matthew B. Crawford (

While I don’t fix motorcycles for a living, I did take shop class in high school, and I have “upgraded” the intake manifold and carb in a 56 Chevy Pickup.  More importantly though, I spend a lot of time working in software development.  I also hear regularly that I’m one of those “technical” types, as opposed to a “creative” type.

Where am I going with this?  Well, all industries seem to like the idea of a manual or a process that can be easily followed.  But as with motorcycle repair, it isn’t that simple.  In fact, nothing is that simple.  Our society is chaffing at it’s manuals, and it is the people who aren’t living in a manual that seem to be happiest.  Luckily, I write interesting software and don’t live in a manual.  Don’t let that make you think I don’t hanker for the wrench and some grease though!


Posted in Business, Contemplative.

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