Work with others: it’s a process! It’s a product!

I like to take controversial positions like “PowerPoint isn’t evil.”  Recently, though, I’ve been reminded of another point of view:

“If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.”

(When Ted Williams said that, he didn’t know about new research on brain plasticity.  Still, it’s a good watchword for avoiding overanalysis.)

For a client’s workshop, I developed a lean set of PowerPoint slides.  No platoons of bullet points, for example.  No miniature version of Magna Carta, no obligatory “I know this wiring diagram for Philadelphia is a little hard to read.”

I did include a couple of clever PowerPoint tricks.  Instead of that dull copying of a slide (like an agenda), I’d just type the number of the original slide, and press enter.

Like "work," "point" can be a verb or a noun.That’s what I usually do–but it’s not what most folks do, and it confused the client experts who facilitate the workshop.  Especially since I broke the slides into three files, one for each day, and used the “restart numbering” feature to make the slide numbers appear seamless.

This post isn’t about PowerPoint, though; it’s about work with others.  It occurred to me that in that phase, “work” is sometimes a verb and sometimes a noun.

As a verb, it refers to the process: how am I accomplishing things?  By collaborating (literally, working together) with my client. 

That means that things I might choose to do on my own, including productive shortcuts and personal preferences, arent’ necessarily the best choice for everyone.

On an unrelated project, I went crazy because I do a lot of my written work in outline mode, and Google Docs (our chosen tool) is simply incompetent at outlines.

Luckily, for that project was was most important was the product–“work” as a noun. 

People didn’t need to do too much word processing; I was responsible for the initial and the final versions.  So the ability to quickly rearrange things, shift emphasis, and insert new material was a high priority.  Word’s outline mode made that easy for me, and my partners were happy to have me perform whatever process I chose in order to product the product they desired.

As in so many other cases, process/product isn’t either/or; it’s both/and.

CC-licensed bullet point image by cogdogblog.