work = displacement / time

work = displacement / time

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Physics has a nice, clean definition for what “work” is: A force is said to do work when it acts on a body, and there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force.  As an example, when you lift a suitcase from the floor, the work done on the suitcase is the force it takes to lift it (its weight) times the distance that it is lifted.

So there’s displacement – How much did you do?  And then there’s also time to consider – How long did it take to do the displacement?  Displacement divided by the time gives you the actual work you did.

I’ve known more than a few co-workers and other professionals in my day that were very efficient (busy), but not very effective.  It’s possible to give the appearance of work, particularly if you’re smart, without actually achieving any displacement.

Drive Current is a software development firm based in San Diego, California.  It’s not possible to compete on an hourly rate with software development firms in India or Poland or Argentina… places with much lower labor costs.  Which is why we’re sensitive to the concept of actual work.  We’ve chosen to level the playing field by doing more work.

Super simple plan, right?  Almost to the point of sounding stupid.  Interestingly enough, however, it turns out that actually doing work, in our case releasing working software into production every week, software that doesn’t have bugs, doesn’t miss the mark and need to be rewritten, that focuses on the top priorities and achieves the most business value… that work is rather hard.

Which is a good thing because if everyone else figures out how to do work we’re going to have to come up with another plan.

Photo Credit: kconner at morguefile.com

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