Under optimized

“If you optimize everything, you will always be unhappy.” - Donald Knuth

Today I found myself moving chairs and tables, dashing around the building to finish an office move that had to be done before the Tet holidays. As one of the directors of the company, was it really useful for me to get involved in that?

Earlier this month, I found myself wanting to bake 120 banana muffins for a year end party: one for each of our 120 employees. Again, wouldn’t it have been better for me to spend those 2 evenings thinking about the next strategic move for the company?

A few months ago, I spent 2 hours to draw the flooring and seating plan for my team, I wanted to re-arrange the tables, and I started to deal switching tables between teams to optimize the space. I was told I had better to do than dealing with those little details and that I was wasting my time micro-managing.

2 years ago, I dedicated quite some time to run the corporate yearly team building. Wouldn’t it had been more efficient to simply outsource this event to a external provider? Afterall, I should know better that outsourcing is about letting companies focus on their core business… (my company’s business provides business process and sotware development outsourcing)

So what’s wrong with me? Surely, I’m not lazy enough to be clever. I’m unrealistic about where I create the most value. I have too much energy to let other people work for me. It’s counter productive, it’s under optimized.

On the other hand, I believe in leading by example. I believe the devil is in the details. I believe in servant leadership: I do whatever needs to be done and I’m rather happy that I can do it. I can only do these mundane tasks because my team is doing a good job and don’t need my assistance.

And last but not least, at the end of the day, I believe I enjoy it. I enjoy the action. I enjoy doing things with immediate results. I enjoy making things happen with my own hands. It makes me feel alive and so I might as well keep being under optimized.