SUPERCOMPETENT Hero Thinking:
I create systems to perform tasks more efficiently, so I can leave the office on time.
SIMPLY COMPETENT Zero Thinking:
I'm working 80 hours a week already, so if I can work more quickly, I can pack in something else.
Decades ago, a series of labor organizers fought hard—some even losing their lives in the process—to ensure Americans only had to work 8-hour days and 40-hour weeks. Don't look now, but those gains have been eroding steadily for the past two decades. We work harder and longer now than we have in years. The High Potentials among us would laugh at the whole idea of working a mere 40-hour week, but even so, they too tend to work much harder than they have to and probably should. Whatever happened to time off?
For decades, productivity experts have been gazing at their charts and graphs and trying to envision what would come next— without much success. They imagined by the twenty-first century, we'd have so many electronic devices doing our work, we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves. A robot would sweep the floor, do the dishes, and perform calculations while we slept. In the morning, as self-running kitchen machines made your toast, they'd have completed a perfect glossy report and fixed your flying car's engine. And with supercharged productivity in the workplace, we could spend most of our day at the spa or the theater.
In 1966, the Wall Street Journal wrote, "the highly ...