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My name is Drew Weilage. I work with healthcare administrators to make work matter.

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Metawork is work about work

Identifying how you get things done, your theory of change, and then improving your theory of change as a result of learning from experience is an example of metawork. 

Metawork is work about work. 

If work is all the stuff you do to advance an objective from here to there, then metawork is the stuff you do to make sure the work is appropriately considered.

If work is solving a problem, then metawork is considering if the problem is worth solving in the first place, whether the problem is appropriately defined, the context of the problem, and what might be an appropriate course of action given the unlimited possibilities that exist.

If work is managing others, then metawork is reflecting on the reasons for doing what you do in your interactions with an employee and identifying the role of the system in that individual’s performance.

If work is managing projects, then metawork is the strategizing you do before taking action on getting the project group to collaborate on shared objectives.

If work is consulting, then metawork is thinking about the tools you use and acknowledging and understanding how the use of any tool ultimately shapes the solution.

If work is facilitating change, then metawork is understanding your theory of change and deliberately improving it as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

It’s silly to need a different name to distinguish work from metawork, because metawork is work, after all. It’s just that there isn’t nearly enough deliberate and intentional metawork happening in most organizations.

Instead, we’re burdened with the check-the-checkbox mentality. Just get it done. But it’s worth asking “What for?” a whole lot more.

That’s metawork, too.

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