Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Never Assemble IKEA Bunk Beds Without Instructions

There was a day when I had a leader tell me that my job was to "Start Stuff".

Literally. That's what he said. Begin doing things.

There were no guidelines. No clearly defined objectives. No "beginning with the end in mind". Just be creative and begin new projects.

At the time, I was naive enough to believe I knew what he meant.

We had freedom. We had autonomy. We had no job description.

Yet, a job without a job description is like an unassembled Ikea bunkbed with no instructions. And no photo to know you will be assembling a bunkbed.

That's called setting you up to fail.

Don't do it. Ask for a job description. Demand defined objectives. You need instructions. You need pictures.

I realize there is some tension here with what I wrote yesterday. We do need enough freedom to create and to fail. But, we need freedom within boundaries. Freedom within set objectives. Freedom - with instructions and photos.

Leadership sets a vision. If there's no vision, there's no place to go. Good effort is wasted on what ends up being the wrong things. The wrong objectives.

Or (maybe even worse), good effort is put into the right things. Initially. But, because there's no end in mind, the goal changes. We waste efforts, and all that's left as frustration and anger.

Don't attempt to assemble without instructions. 

This is not leadership.

Require leaders to lead. Make sure they give you the instructions, goals, and boundaries. If they don't, or if they can't, take the time to create your own job description and goals. Develop a way to hold yourself accountable to the goals - and make sure your leaders sign off on this.

It's you being both a basic adult - and a leader.