There is a lot of fear associated with ‘overextended’.
Take too much financial risk, expose yourself to the vagaries of the market and you’ll end up stressed, bankrupt and overextended.
Stretch your knee too much in the wrong direction after a long swim and the doctor will tell you that the ligaments are overextended.
Brands that get greedy and put their names in too many places in too many ways (as Tiffany’s did a generation ago) get overextended and take a long time to heal.
But what about the more prevalent, more insidious and ultimately more damaging notion of being underextended?
The factory-mindset encourages every worker to protect his time and his effort. Don’t volunteer because they’ll never give you any slack. Don’t push harder because you’ll only exhaust yourself. Don’t let them speed up the line because it will never slow down again…
It’s true: in a commodity business, productivity only increases as the result of more effort, and that effort is rarely compensated.
We see one organization after another, left unchecked, pushing miners or laborers or bureaucrats to exhaustion, all in the name of enhanced productivity.
Here’s the thing: creative work seems to be an exception. In fact, the exhaustion from overextending yourself creatively is some of the best exhaustion you will ever feel. An organization that provides a platform for people to push into their fear will produce both better work and a better workforce.
No, we don’t need more TPS reports. Yes, we need to figure out how to push ourselves until we’re creatively overextended.