Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Power of Progress

Sisyphus rolling boulder uphill

Legend has it that when Zeus wanted to punish a man — to really punish a man — the god made it impossible for the man to ever again feel the satisfaction of accomplishment.

We’ve all had those days. Late afternoon rolls around and you realize you have not accomplished any of the tasks you came to work to do that day.

But this post talks about the other side of the situation, when you enjoy tangible forward motion on your projects. The joy of progress: That’s the real pleasure of work!

Don’t take my word for it. That’s the finding documented in this Harvard Business Review article. In “What Really Motivates Workers,” Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer write:

On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak.

I  believe Newforma’s success has resulted from delivering this feeling of overcoming obstacles and making progress in daily work:

  • Architects measure progress by how well they serve clients and deliver successful designs.
  • Engineers measure progress by how well they engineer solutions — and they like to engineer their businesses to operate more efficiently, too.
  • Contractors measure progress by how far they advance the schedule and coordinate their legions of subcontractors.
  • Owners measure progress by how well they understand and operate their facilities.

In each case above, Newforma software removes impediments to progress.

If you want to kill someone’s spirit, as Zeus did, Amabile and Kramer found that the Greek god-king knew what he was doing:

On days when [workers] feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.

But if you want to enjoy the satisfaction of achievement and help your colleagues do the same, we have some ideas of how you can make that happen. Write if you’d like to start a discussion!

Postscript video

Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School professor and coauthor of The Progress Principle, explains the importance of wins at work:

The Power of Progress

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