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Last night a colleague mentioned there are two ways to motivate a team:

  • Unreasonable deadlines
  • A mortal enemy

This is true. These are definitely ways to get the troops in line. In

fact, after two glasses of red wine, I was staring at these two options

thinking, "This might solve my hard problem." My hard problem

is that Fridays have died at THE COMPANY. I’ll explain.


the CEO telecommutes from Chicago and is not here on Fridays as he’s on

his way back to Chicago. The trickle down effect means that our VP of

SALES isn’t here either. The precedent which is now set essentially gives

ANYONE in the company the right to "work at home" on Friday.

The ability to actually work while working at home is a rare one. I’ve

tried it. Doesn’t work. Too many toys at home to distract me. I’ve watched

others try it, too… doesn’t work for them for a variety of reasons.

There are people who are very good at working at home, but these tend

to be the HYPERFOCUSABLE types who are also great assembly programmers.

Back to Fridays. The added benefit of these "work at home"

Fridays is that the folks who actually make it in are distinctly aware

of the folks who aren’t there which means they’re liable to slack or leave

early. My rough estimate is that we’re losing roughly 20% of our productivity

because Fridays have died.


Dead Fridays are truly only a symptom of a larger problem. THE COMPANY,

like many small-ish start-ups who’ve made it this far, is basically waiting

for other big companies to start buying software again. Few, if any, sales

are coming in, so THE COMPANY has focused on getting the expenses under

control, going through three layoffs, scrambling to get additional funding,

and… waiting.

At the end of this waiting period there are two options. Either, become

successful or die. I would argue the death of Fridays is a preliminary

indication that others believe the die scenario is inevitable which means

that the problem which actually needs to be solved is "belief that

THE COMPANY will be successful".

If this is true, neither of the strategies above will work because both

assume that an employee has something he/she is a) willing to work hard

for (ie: unreasonable deadlines) or b) willing to defend (ie: against

a mortal enemy).