Managers & Makers

In this world, some of us are managers and some of us are makers (I’ll explain this in a minute). And because of this, there is tension when our worlds collide, or more specifically when our schedules collide. We work for the same company, and we share the same office building, but our schedules are different. What it takes to get things done looks different if you are someone who manages or someone who makes. Let me unpack this a bit because chances are you’ve experienced this tension.

The Manager

The manager’s typical day looks like a series of one-hour segments (half-hour segments if you’re super-organized). It might look something like this: an hour in the morning tending to emails, the next hour dedicated to preparing for the 11:00am meeting, the next hour actually having the meeting, an hour for a business lunch, an hour on the phone, an hour hearing from your direct reports, and so on. Before you know it, the day is done, and you go home…for another series of one-hour events: dinner with the family, putting the kids to bed, an hour watching or two watching TV. Then, you go to bed because you’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow. If ever an unplanned interruption happens upon his day or if there’s an impromptu meeting that’s called, he loses an hour, but then jumps right back on schedule with no problems. The hour-managed day is how he gets stuff done.

The Maker

The maker’s schedule is much harder to describe. It does break down into nice one-hour segments. Instead, the maker works with chunks of time. In the office, he might think, “I’ve got the morning, and I’ve got the afternoon.” Throw a meeting or unplanned interruption in the mix, and he loses the entire chunk of time. That’s because the work that he does requires hours of focused time to complete. He’s a maker: an author, a creator of art, a web designer, a computer programmer, a speech writer, an architect, and so on. You get the idea. And by the way, these guys are also prone to do some pretty crazy things work-wise. They wake up in the middle of the night and write a hundred pages for an upcoming book. They stay up late into the night (or early morning, depending on how you look at it), and write a couple hundred lines of code. They can’t stop when something good is happening. This is how they make stuff.

The Tension

The tension should be quite obvious. The managers and the makers have to interact. There are meetings, phone calls, impromptu conversations about necessary project changes. Life happens, and the worlds collide.

The Conclusion

The tension will always be there. It just has to be managed (Andy Stanley talks about managing tension). You have to know that it’s there and act accordingly. Be respectful and considerate of the managers and the makers in your life. If your a manager, plan as many of the interactions as you can with the makers in one block of time, freeing up their alternate block of the day, and try not to interrupt them unnecessarily. If your a maker, understand that meetings have to take place, and let everyone know when you “available” time slots are, politely asking people not to disturb the creative process.

So, what do you think? Have you experienced this tension? I have. And in case you were wondering, I’m a hybrid of both. I live in a managers environment with responsibilities in that area, but I also make a lot of things because of my role at my church. I guess, I have it even worse because I have an inward tension :). But, that’s life, and I enjoy making and managing.

(I started thinking about this concept two years ago, when I read this article by Paul Graham)