What Is the Problem?

You’d think we’d be happy working with our minds. We get to sit around and think for a living! Create ideas! Bring them to life! We have almost reached the promised land of perpetual contentment and happiness—except that we are still relegated to a dreary corporate world erected in the vast wasteland of the status quo, as so aptly illustrated and mocked in Dilbert cartoons, movies like Office Space, and the TV show The Office. Consequently, most of us now feel:

  • Overwhelmed: We have far too much to do, too much information to process, and too many people to coordinate with. We can’t keep up with it all, and we are drowning. Too-long to-do lists and overflowing e-mail inboxes are the causes of self-defeating guilt for many of us.
  • Anonymized”: The people who put in just enough effort to keep from getting fired are treated the same way as those who go all-out—those who truly care and want to succeed, and genuinely want to create value. But their efforts are rarely recognized, so what’s the point? The result? Those of us who do care tend to get buried among the masses of the mediocre.
  • Disconnected: Ironically, the very inventions that have given us such a profound sense of connectedness are incredibly complex, and thus require unimaginably esoteric work to make them happen. The work we do now is highly specialized, buried deep within the layers of our products, and the link between our contributions and the actual use of these products is too abstract for most ...

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