Work Types – Routine, Reactive, Research

Over three decades in the workplace, I observe 3 basic types of work in the day…

  1. Reactive (looking backwards)
  2. Routine (looking present)
  3. Research (looking forwards)

Every organization has its own balance. NASA should be ‘research’ heavy, while your local fire department is likely to be ‘reactive’ heavy. But I think most businesses follow the 70-20-10 rule…

  • 70% Routine – well conceived and implemented ‘business as usual’ planned work and established processes.
  • 20% Research – proactive initiative, sharpening the axe, and exposing oneself to upside.
  • 10% Reactive – sharp, effective responses to the inevitable glitches in place.

A common sign of a dysfunctional business is one overly reactive (for extended period of times). If more than 10% of work is focused in Reactive mode, then something is broken. Probably a “stitch in time” missed that is now causing a 9-fold impact. Another common imbalance for start-ups is making the leap from a “research” heavy mode to a routine mode.

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