What if you’re actually terrible at what your real job is?

So this may be very Merlin Man (site, twitter, podcast1, podcast2, and podcast3) inspired, but I have to ask it, just for everyone’s sanity: What if you’re actually terrible at what your real job is?

Let’s say you’re hired to build websites. sure. You’re hired to build websites. But as Horace Dediu (podcast)  points out, a lot of what we need to look at is the “Jobs to Be Done” and when you look at it in that perspective, your Job to Be Done is really to solve their communication issue.

That’s right. You’re not building a website, but communicating information. Be it “This is good” or “That is bad”, or just “Buy this widget”, the job you are doing for your employer is helping them to disseminate information.

If you get up every day, build exactly what they tell you to build, exactly the way they say, there’s two very, very real possibilities of what is happening:

  1. You’re viewed as nothing more than a production worker
  2. You’re terrible at actually solving the problems given to you, and thus become #1

Sure. You have to be able to make things pretty to be a designer, and you have to be able to code to be a programmer, but you have to be able to problem solve to be effective at either.

So, what do you do if you decide you’re terrible at your job?

Get better.


  1. Akamaozu

    I think this is very well said.

    What people SAY they are paying you for is not always what they’re actually paying you to do.

    So many people ask for a website, when what they really want is a digital extension of their business, or a way to directly interact with their clients.

    The first thing you’d need to get better at your job is looking through the request and identifying what it is you’re actually supposed to do. That information will guide you so much more than any documentation or client request, because you’re working with the end in mind.

    That’s the first step to being a real problem-solver, not just a production worker.


    • Jacob Mather

      Exactly. The real problem lies in the fact that most often, even the clients don’t even understand why they’re hiring you.

      For a It’s 2012, they KNOW they need a website, but they don’t. know. why. Nor do they care.

      If both sides are just building a website, do everyone a favor and throw in the towel now, because that’s not going to help anyone.


Leave a Reply