Good work sucks when things become a constant drill, a constant firefight.
It can happen in any knowledge work, even in a role you used to love.
Good work almost always goes bad for these reasons:
- Not enough people.
- Not enough resources.
- And because of the silent good work killer, bad systems.
When you can't pick your head up because you've got too many chores to do in the weeds, good work has gone bad—a recipe for disaster for any knowledge worker.
I know about all of this because I've worked through them, helped others work through them. But I've also seen people stumble, fail, get burned out, and quit.
At a startup I was a part of, we had new features that needed to launch, but we had other issues eating our time. We had people waking up in the middle of the night dealing with issues rather than building. We were trying to acquire new customers, but we had old ones complaining.
All of these are symptoms of good work about to go bad.
So how do you fix all of this? We needed to invest cycles into creating better systems; things would've eventually buckled under their own weight if we didn't. We did it in just the knick of time.
Had we not addressed these, then our people would've gotten burned out and left. Customers would've become unhappy and left too. Growth would've stopped, and an otherwise great business becomes shit. I know because it almost happened to us. That's the risk we run when we don't invest and keep running with bad systems.
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