Designing Your Work Life – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans Book Summary

Designing Your Work Life – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans | Free Book Summary

Designing Your Work Life – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Designing Your Work Life is a book by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans that provides readers with an engaging and practical guide to finding a meaningful career. The book begins by discussing the importance of finding fulfilling work and how to go about designing a career that will make you truly happy. 

It then explores the concept of designing your work life, which involves identifying your passions and talents and then creating an actionable plan to help you make your dreams a reality. The book also covers topics such as how to manage stress, set boundaries, and create a supportive work environment.

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The authors provide readers with tips and advice on how to make their work lives more enjoyable and productive.

Frame your Box

Creativity is all about playing around with how you frame your box and how you “play” within that framing.Free book, podcast summaries

Step 1: Accept that there is always a box.

Step 2: Remind yourself that you made the box when you framed the question, and you can change the frame when you need new, more helpful solutions

The Minimum Actionable Problem

You may have heard of MVP, which stands for Minimum Viable Product. It’s a big idea in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship. Start-ups know that getting any new product to market is really, really hard. You don’t want to make it any harder than you have to—so the idea is to just build your first product with all the valuable (viable) features and no more.

That’s a great idea, and it applies to reframing, too, but this time instead of MVP we will call it “MAP,” which stands for Minimum Actionable Problem.

Once you have reframed your big hairy problem, once you’ve turned it into its Minimum Actionable Problem, you get to solve a much smaller and more tractable problem.

Problems are Reality

Life is hard enough on its own. Seriously. If everyone’s life was perfect and jobs were hassle-free, nobody would be reading our books. Don’t add to the burden by making your problems any bigger than necessary.

When it comes to problems, you want to set the bar low and clear it. Then lather, rinse, repeat.

Don’t Resign, Redesign!

Dysfunctional Belief: I have a bad job, and I need to quit!

Reframe: There are no bad jobs, just jobs that fit badly, and I can redesign right where I am to make my own “good” job.

Sometimes you hate your job, or you are bored by your job, or you aren’t challenged by your job, or you never saw this job as a permanent thing but here it is twenty years later and you are stuck doing what you have always done.

All of that can be true. Except for the part about being stuck. Designers don’t get stuck, because they know how to get unstuck. And quitting is rarely their first option.

Don’t quit. Yet.

Depending on your circumstance, one of these strategies should help you get unstuck.

  1. Reframe and reenlist to the job you have by finding a different story for and relationship to your work, crafted by realigning your activities around your organization’s priorities—making you more valuable in the process.
  2. Remodel your job through a combination of cosmetic and structural modifications that better align with your interests while utilizing more of your signature strengths, resulting in improved performance that makes your boss happier and improved engagement that makes you happier.
  3. Relocate. Slide laterally into a new role that’s within reach, even if it’s not obvious at first. Either it’s an existing opening or a new position created just for you.
  4. Reinvent. Launch a new career. It’s the You 2.0 Program, but at the same company, in a completely different kind of role for which you’ve prepared and retrained to give you a major career refresh and your employer continued access to a loyal and valuable team member.

Quitting Well

Dysfunctional Belief: I’m going to quit this *$#$%* job today.

Reframe: I’m going to springboard out of this job to a better one by designing my quit.

Everything has its season. Everything changes. Everything ends.

And the data says that you will have many jobs and even multiple careers in your lifetime, which means you’re going to be quitting some jobs. And when it comes time to quit your job, it is best to quit well.

Find a New Job First

There are two good reasons to find a new job before you quit:

(1) it improves your chance of landing that new job, and

(2) it increases financial stability.

When backpacking in the woods, all good campers know the rule “Leave the campsite better than you found it.” It’s a good rule for life and work, too. Deciding to make things better at work before you leave does a lot of good. It helps your colleagues, who have to pick up the pieces, succeed.

Exit Well

Movie producers will tell you that the two most important moments in a film are the climax and the conclusion. When you quit, you are writing the screenplay of the final scene of the movie of your job. It is going to be one of the strongest memories that your company and the people in it have of you.

Be sure it’s a great scene that you want people to remember.

Being Your Own Boss

Dysfunctional Belief: The only way to have a career is for someone to hire me and for me to work for a company in a job I can tolerate.

Reframe: One way to have an amazing career with lots of autonomy and a job I love is to invent it!

McKinsey, the famous business consulting firm, did a study on the future of work. In it, they hypothesize that automation, artificial intelligence, and turning everything into software will swallow up a lot of jobs. They predict a great deal of disruption.

However, they noted that there will be more, not less, work for designers and anyone who applies a creative mindset to their work. Evidently, these “creative jobs” are difficult, if not impossible, to automate.

The times. They are a-changing.

So let’s all accept what is, join the party, and put the forces driving those changes to work for us by thinking and acting like life designers capable of imagining and building a future that works for everybody and a work life that allows us to be happy.

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