As I write this, Ed Sheeran is performing “I Love the Shape of You” live, looping his chorus and singing the melody over top of his own live instrumental tracks at the Grammys. Pretty amazing. And something that knowledge workers can learn from.
Those of you that know me, know that I was raised by wolves. My first real job had me reporting to software engineers (the wolves). But the best kind of wolves that included a Stanford educated software engineer with experience at Bell Corp. where so many amazing things were discovered and invented; including data networking, the transistor, cellular telephones, the laser and solar cells.
I learned many important engineering principles from this team. Many of these engineering principles apply to knowledge work in general. Sheeran’s work demonstrates one of those principles; reusability. The software principle is to create software modules that are general purpose in nature, tested and of high quality that can be used again and again without further investment of engineering time. Sheeran is so amazing because he does this on-the-fly, live while he is performing.
Many knowledge workers can learn from Sheeran’s performance. Most of us don’t have to perform live without the opportunity to review and revise our work as we go along. Fortunately, we can record our work and revise it to use it in the future. By creating a toolkit of reusable knowledge objects and adding new work to it as we complete it, we can build a set of templates and sample deliverables that can reduce the time required to complete a project, analysis, report or presentation. This is a strong practice that reduces time required to accomplish a result and improves the quality of the deliverable produced. By saving work examples that have been fully vetted, reviewed and proofed, and then generalizing them for multiple uses, we can have a great starting point for new work allowing us to essentially stand on our own shoulders as we start a new effort.