Dirty-Work Group – A Model for Entrepreneurs

Dirty-Work Group

Or Don’t Let Your Lack of Ability To Do a Part-of-it Stop You from Doing What You Want to Happen

Let us face it. Either we have all the talent needed to pull off an idea or we do not have all the talent to pull off the idea. Should this lacking stop us from going ahead and follow the idea?

Conventional wisdom says, if you can’t do it, you won’t be able to do it. So forget it.

Should we?

In a modern market, a businessman should have multiple capabilities to survive. Not every entrepreneur can hire accountants, financial advisors, lawyers, technical experts for advice. They start with limited resources and consultants don’t come cheap.

All entrepreneurs have one common quality. They are good at multiple tasks. If a successful entrepreneur was good at computers, sure there was at least one more field which the entrepreneur had a “natural knack” for. Maybe marketing, finance or any other area that helped in converting an “idea” into a business reality.

But at times either that is not sufficient or there maybe a lack of “natural knack”. It can discourage an entrepreneur into inaction. A Dirty-Work Group model can be a good approach to walk away unscathed by all these problems.

The Process

As you follow the Beating Down the Idea you would have broken down your projects into activities. The thing different in this break-down is that the activities are classified as per your (the initiator’s) capabilities. It will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Use this list to look for a team that will make up for these lacking.

The Advantage

Besides a help in forming a team, the process is useful in:

  • Identifying the strength and weakness of team members
  • Identifying weakness that is not covered by another team member and thus identify a weak link
  • Taking the first step where the results of analysis can be directed inwards rather than outwards. Most planning and analysis tools are for “telling” others about a project. The DWG method is easy to adapt and hence greater advantage for the project itself.
  • It is a great team-work promoting method.
  • It helps the “purpose” rather than “people” become the leader and guiding principle.

More Reading

Forming a Dirty-Work Group

Dirty-Work Group Organization Structure

A Step by Step Guide

1. Beating Down the Idea

Step 1: With utmost pessimism, identify the knowledge/experience you as an initiator lack that would doom the project into a failure. Divide them into two parts. Your Lack of Knowledge (K) about the field and your Lack of Confidence or Lack of Experience (CE) with that field.

Then take a second trip. Revise the list. This time with optimism, start beating at your project. Identify the parts of which with good smooth because of your competence and confidence. Break them into two parts. One would be what you feel you can cakewalk through and one you feel would be tough nuts to crack, but manageable.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices Marinating Cutting Vegetables Buying Vegetables
Frying Boiling
Putting Salt in right measures Serving Food
Cooking

 

Step 2: Revisit the column CE. If you feel after the bout of optimism you can move an activity from this column to column M, go ahead and do it. Revisit column M. If you want to move the activity to another column, go ahead. Revisit column CW. Revisit column K. Revisit column CE and column M. By now you should have a fairly stable task breakdown and your capability to handle them.

Step 3: Draw a line at the bottom of column CE and column M

Step 4: Move the items you would hate if you had to do below the line.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices Buying Vegetables
Frying Boiling
Serving Food
Cooking
 

Marinating Cutting Vegetables
Putting Salt in right measures

 

Step 5: Draw lines under Lack of Knowledge and Cakewalk too.  Move the items in Lack of knowledge you know you can not learn or do not want to learn about. Move items in Cake Walk below the line which you think are trivial for you or not worth you spending your time on or too unchallenging for you.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices Buying Vegetables
Frying Boiling
Serving Food
Cooking




Marinating Cutting Vegetables
Putting Salt in right measures

 

Note: What you see on top of the dividing line is your Nice-Work zone and below it is the important Dirty-Work zone.

2. Gathering People

Step 1: In general there are two pools to pick people from. One from within and one from outside. At times, the same department may mean within and the other department may mean outside. Or a company may be within and from outside would mean recruiting. A circle of friends may mean within and not knowing a person would be considered outside. For various reasons, we recommend a team as DWG be formed from the within the pool. The biggest being that the initiator would have a fair idea about the people who could have complementing Nice-Work and Dirty-Work zones.

Note: Within is described as a circle where people can be moved to around rather casually. The formal work that is needs, succeeds or is simultaneous to the moving. On otherside, outside is where a formal procedure precedes a person’s moving in.

Step 2: Interview with people aware of the project could be in form of above exercise and then finding people such that whole tasks are covered. Interview of a person having no idea would involve moving the activities above and below the lines based on response with respect to previous projects/tasks.

3. Shaping the Team

Next step is to identify when the team has been “formed”. Apparently, each item must figure in someone’s column CW. At a minimum, each item should appear in either column M or column CWcolumn. In case of activities are not in column CW but in column M of more than one, they have to sort out who takes it into his column CW. If it appears in can manage only one person he has to take it into his column CW. A team can always go looking out for more people at any time either of the scenarios appears.

Note: During the process of induction of new members, more tasks can be added or tasks can be broken down. The matrix remains very dynamic. But each task should be classified in one of the four columns for each member.

4. Distributing Tasks

Let the below activity matrix belong to two members are to be part of DWG.

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Spices
Frying Boiling Marinating
Cooking




Putting Salt in right measures Cutting Vegetables Serving Food
Buying Vegetables

 

 

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
Cutting Vegetables Putting Salt in right measures
Spices




 Buying Vegetables Boiling Marinating
Serving Food Frying
    Cooking

 

Step 1: Merge the activities column-wise

 

With Pessimism With Optimism
Lack of Knowledge (K) Lack of Confidence/Experience (CE) Can Manage (M) Can Cake Walk (CW)
 Spices Cutting Vegetables Putting Salt in right measures
 Spices  Frying Boiling Spices
 Cooking Boiling Marinating
 Frying Buying Vegetables
Cooking Serving Food




 Buying Vegetables Putting Salt in right measures Boiling Marinating
Putting Salt in right measures Serving Food Frying
Marinating   Cooking
Cutting Vegetables Serving Food
Buying Vegetables
Cutting Vegetables

 

Step 2: Validate the matrix.

Step 3: Make an activity allocation matrix. Allocate all column CW activities.

 

Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work Nice-Work Dirty-Work
Marinating Serving Food Buying Vegetables Marinating Spices Frying
Frying Cutting Vegetables Serving Food Putting Salt in right measures Putting Salt in right measures Cooking
Cooking Buying Vegetables Boiling Spices Cutting Vegetables Boiling

More Reading

Dirty-Work Group Based Organizational Structure

Dirty-Work Group Organization Structure

Introduction

A team does not and can not exist as an island. In an organizational setup, it has to indulge in intra-organizational and external communications. How does the concept of Dirty-work group provide a solution to this and how would an organization based on this idea look like?

In this article, we introduce the concept of interfaces to a Dirty-Work Group and propose an organizational structure.

Interfaces

As a Dirty-Work group‘s organization is internal to a group, from the outside it would look like a black box. Proper interfaces should be defined for various kinds of interactions. The most apparent communications are of following types:

Internal - Dirty-Work Group  Internal:  This interface is one point contact for all intra-company communications. Any request for information from other teams, dissemination of information, etc to the Dirty-Work Group is through this interface. Any member can pick this activity as their Good-Work (Good Work Group) and if none exits then as a Dirty-Work (Dirty Work Group).

External - Dirty-Work Group  External:  This interface is one point contact for all external communications. Any request for information from the press, other companies, agencies, etc to the Dirty-Work Group is through this interface. Any member can pick this activity as their Good-Work and if none exits then as a Dirty-Work.

Hierarchical - Dirty-Work Group  Hierarchical:  This interface is one point contact for all reporting to the higher level of management and their communication to the group. Any member can pick this activity as their Good-Work and if none exits then as a Dirty-Work.

Dynamics

Consider an organization named Any Organization Ltd. Its top management can be a Dirty-Work Group of all or some of these people:

  • CFO: Chief Financial Officer
  • CIO: Chief Information Officer
  • CTO: Chief Technology Officer
  • CMSO: Chief Marketing and Sales Officer
  • CHRO: Chief Human Resources Officer
  • CLO: One who manages buildings, offices, infrastructure, canteen, transportation and all that none of the above have to worry about – the ‘Handy Man’ officer.

Let there be three Dirty-Work Group working on various projects. One of them is a high visibility project about which business community is also interested.

Dirty-Work Group Organization Structure

Each member of each group after picking the Good-Work and the Dirty-Work will also pick whether to be an interface. And if yes, then what kind of interface. Internal, External or Hierarchical. The teams which do not need to interact may not pick an External interface or pick one when needed.

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