Thoughts on Hard Work

I am catching up on my RSS feeds and fell upon Ivan’s post on “Hard Work”. The article references Seth Godins post Hard Work, which examines 3 types of work being carried out.

In summary we have the following types:

1) Doing repetitive, back grueling work. One task at a time until completion.

2) Using tools to make the same work faster and more effective.

3) Planning ahead and getting the tools ready beforehand.

These posts peaked my interest in several ways. My first thought is to analyze where im personally at in my career as a network engineer/designer and what im doing to go from type 1 to 3 in my daily work life. Second thought is where we are at as an industry and what trends are going on.

When im in my capacity as a network engineer im unfortunally still somewhere between type 1 and 2, often a pure type 1. I do configure routing, switching and firewalling manually in alot of cases (think customer enterprise networks).

Why am i stuck here? I believe alot of it stems from the culture of your workplace. If you are constantly 110% busy, you know that a certain task will take X amount of hours. Using tools to go from X to X-2 hours would only make sense if it takes less than 2 hours to figure out how to utilize the tools. – That goes from the first time you configure the same exact thing. Second go around, it obviously makes sense. That is, if you dont have project managers, department bosses, etc. breathing down your neck to have a fully filled out bookings… Every single hour of every single day.

What we need is a cultural shift that allows us to spend Y amount of time researching and utilizing tools to make the work tasks go from X to X-2.

Here’s a thought for a type 1 company out there – Why not just completely bypass the type 2 and educate the entire organisation to be very profecient in planning ahead and making sure that your engineers are using tools to automate whereever they can? - Yes, it will take quite an effort, but wouldnt it be groundbreaking and even make alot of economical sense in the long run?

At the moment what im seeing in the industry is a change from a grassroot movement of automation to being adopted as a differentiator and quite alot more acceptable as a way going forward. Mix this with robust API’s for network equipment and you got a recipe for not only a timesaver (hard work), but even more stable and manageable networks.

My final thoughts is that the successful companies and/or networks going forward will have embraced automation instead of fighting it all the way. So, project mangers/bosses etc. at the very least let your engineers use some time learning automation and even make it company policy if you want to make sure to exist in 5-10 years.