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11. Developing Task Inventories

Richard Swanson Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF


Developing Task Inventories

Creating a Task Inventory

Criteria for a Good Task Inventory

Acme International—Task Inventory for the Job of Shipper

Tips for the Analyst



ost jobs consist of a variety of fairly discrete activities or tasks.

Even jobs that first appear to be one-dimensional usually become more complex on closer inspection. Take, for example, the job of violinist. At first glance, this job appears to be one-dimensional: playing the violin. A closer look, however, yields a list of discrete tasks such as violin maintenance, music procurement, performance scheduling, practicing, and performing. A task inventory is a list of the discrete activities—such as those just listed—that make up a specific job in a specific organization.

Being able to create an accurate task inventory list is the focus of this chapter. Later chapters cover methods for documenting precisely what a person needs to know and do to perform each of the tasks. For most people who talk and write about task analysis, they do not go any deeper than creating a task inventory—this chapter. Fine and

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Mike Song Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
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Twelve Stakeholder Finance: Capital as Friend

Marjorie Kelly Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In our talk at the Constitution, Ken Temple said something about the John Lewis Partnership that I found later in my notes. “We believe labor should employ capital, rather than capital employ labor,” he said. I recognized that formulation. It was also found in the writings of David Ellerman, an economist formerly with the World Bank, who was an early participant in Corporation 20/20.

After I return from London, I send an e-mail to David and find that he’s soon coming to Boston. I ask him to meet me for lunch. We sit down together at Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers on Massachusetts Avenue near Harvard Square, where David orders the Ted Kennedy, “a plump, liberal amount of burger” with fries, while I settle for the chicken wrap. With his white hair and long beard, David might easily be cast in the role of wizard or guru. He’s an articulate proponent of employee ownership and a critic of the absentee ownership that characterizes most corporations today. As we sit and talk about the financial crisis and its aftermath, he begins explaining why he thinks the key culprit is absentee decision making.

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2 Performance Appraisal: Like a Trip to the Dentist

Doug Allen Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Pauline had trouble falling asleep that night. She kept tossing and turning as her thoughts about performance appraisals churned around in her head.

Might as well get up and make some notes, she thought as she threw the bed covers aside.

She turned on the light in her home office and booted up her laptop. The first words she entered were “Annual PAs: About as much fun as a trip to the dentist.”

This could help both me and the company, she thought as she began to collect and enter her ideas. It was clear to her that there were several reasons for her disdain of annual performance appraisals.

First, they were time consuming. Pauline resented all the time she spent filling out forms. Each form asked for a lot of repetitive information that she had to copy laboriously from the previous year’s form, followed by forty performance items she had to evaluate.

The meetings themselves were time consuming, too. She had to sit down with each employee for a half hour, an hour, or more and talk with him or her. The meetings seemed to go on forever and often ended on a sour note, even though that was never her intention. It somehow just “happened.”

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4: If It Ain’t Broke, Be Grateful

Bob Seidensticker Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

AN EXTENSIVE PROGRAM OF COPYING WORKS from around the known world endowed the celebrated library at Alexandria, Egypt, with a collection of about half a million manuscripts. When a Muslim army took the city in 640 CE, a caliph reasoned that any document that agreed with the Koran was redundant, and any that contradicted it was blasphemous. He ordered the library destroyed.

Historians wince at the thought of the priceless manuscripts lost to us as a result, but we have our own version of this story. Digital information is slipping through our fingers—not quickly in an inferno, but gradually and relentlessly all around us. CDs, disks, and tapes all have a surprisingly short lifetime. In theory, digital is forever, but in practice, our records are more short-lived than they’ve ever been.

In the last chapter, we saw how technology can surprise us with unexpected consequences. Now we turn to its errors and failures. Data is ephemeral, products are buggy, and networks are vulnerable to joyriding hackers or enemies of the state. Much is made of the two steps forward, but little of the one step back. Today’s technology is impressive, but we must see it accurately, flaws and all. 50

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