Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 10, Issue 43;   October 27, 2010: Sixteen Overload Haiku

Sixteen Overload Haiku

by

Most of us have some experience of being overloaded and overworked. Many of us have forgotten what it is not to be overloaded. Here's a contemplation of the state of overload.
A centrifugal governor

A centrifugal governor. A gear mechanism rotates the governor at rates proportional to engine revolutions per minute (RPM). Increasing RPM increases centrifugal forces on the two masses, which causes them to rise. That action slows the engine. Scan from Hawkins (b.1833), Nehemiah (1904 edition of 1897 book. Originally published in 1897, later expanded to cover internal combustion engines.). New Catechism of the Steam Engine. New York: Theo Audel.

Machines, especially engines, are designed with a maximum revolutions per minute. When they exceed that maximum, they can fail catastrophically by essentially flying apart. Organizations also have a ceiling controlling how much work they can do without harming workers. When their work involves manipulating physical goods, that ceiling is set by safety regulations or by limits imposed by Nature.

In knowledge-based organizations, the ceiling on rates of production isn't as obvious. It's real, but it's set by psychological factors. There are few regulations, if any, and no obvious safety limits. In knowledge-based organizations, overload is often uncontrolled.

It's up to us to control overload. Here are some haiku to contemplate when you find yourself so overloaded that you can no longer think. Read them slowly. Notice how you feel about each one. Notice which ones strike home, and which ones suggest new ways to regain your sense of well-being.

i
Another day starts.
Email, voicemail, and meetings.
Another day ends.
ii
This has to get done.
So does that and that and that.
Not by noon it won't.
iii
Hours so horrendous
I eat dinner at my desk.
This is not a life.
iv
With great sacrifice,
I finish my work. He does not,
but nobody cares.
v
She has time for breaks,
And I'm completely buried.
How does this happen?
vi
I can't do it all
with quality I'm proud of.
So what's good enough?
vii
After a layoff,
there are fewer people here,
but just as much work.
viii
You've got a problem.
Please help me understand why
your problem is mine.
ix
Someone must do it.
It always seems to be me.
What if I said No?
x
Why don't I say No?
I can say No — but I don't.
Am I scared? What of?
xi
Isn't saying "yes"
to their excessive demands
saying "no" to me?
xii
I get too much mail.
I cannot read all of it.
Wait — I don't have to!
xiii
Taking the red eye,
I return in time for work.
Brain dead, but on time.
xiv
The nice thing about
conflicting meetings is you
only attend one.
xv
I have too much work,
but I've found a solution.
I don't do it all.
xvi
This isn't my job.
Why do I have to do it?
Wait a sec — I don't.

Writing haiku can be a relaxing, meditative exercise. The act can clear your mind. Try it. More about haiku Go to top Top  Next issue: How to Make Good Guesses: Strategy  Next Issue

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