The Essence of Work – Understanding the Depth of Manageability

When you’re working with other team members, it’s important to recognize and understand the depth of work they’re able to handle.

The depth of work translates to the degree of work abstractness in which an individual can execute. I try to get a grasp of a person’s capabilities in terms of depth when working with a new group of people.

For example, everyone’s assigned the abstract mission of ‘living life’ at birth. We’ll call this Depth Level 0.

The next level up could be things like “starting a business” or “become a renowned author”. This is Depth Level 1. If an individual is assigned the task of “starting a business” and is able to carry it out to a decent extent, then that person is “Depth Level 1” capable.

But if they’re not able to get a grasp of things at this level, we bump them down to Depth Level 2. “You need a business plan/capital/team. Come up with a business plan first.” This could be classified as Depth Level 2.

If this proves to be too much as well, we go even further into Depth Level 3. “Creating a business proposal typically begins with drafting a business proposal.” 

If even this proves to be too much, we proceed down to Depth Level 4. “Look for issues that people around you commonly have. Read books on the issue and interview subject matter experts.”

If we come to the point where even this is too overwhelming, we proceed to Depth Level 5.. “Go ask such and such about XYZ and bring me the interview record.”

The process of moving up from intern, team member, team lead, department head, and finally CEO translates into elevating oneself up the Depth Levels.

The CEO executes “Successfully manage XX business!” It’s a position that fulfills Depth Level 1 tasks.

The department head executes “Successfully manage department of XX!” It’s a position that fulfills Depth Level 2 tasks.

An individual’s competence is composed of their depth manageability, work pace, and the quality of work they produce.

It’s possible for some people to be unable to execute low level Depths but are still able to perform well in terms of speed or quality.

Two specific methods can be utilized to pinpoint an individual’s depth manageability. They are bottom-up and top-down. Top-down involves assigning the most macro tasks first, then gradually becoming more specific depending on their progress. Bottom-up involves assigning the most micro-tasks first, then raising the depth of the task as they succeed at the given task. In my experience, top-down works well when you have plenty of time and the individual has the potential for improvement. But the risk of failure needs to be handled by the leader assigning the task.

Bottom-up works better for short term results. Tasks that the individual worker is guaranteed to be able to perform are assigned first. If the worker performs well or becomes bored from the task, then upper tier tasks are gradually assigned. But this comes with the risk of being perceived as micro-management. This also introduces the possibility that they become unable to move onto upper-level depths.

Like with anything, there is no definite answer to determining depth levels. It’s up to the individual to find their unique Golden Point.

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