Deep work matters

Dennis

I’ve attended countless meetings during which some variation of the following happens:

Person A makes a point about a topic.

Person B comments on Person A’s statement.

Person C brings up another subject.

Person D returns briefly to person A’s comment and then makes a point on a totally different subject.

And so on as participants skate across the surface of important topics.

This type of “superficial work” is all too common in meetings, even those where important decisions are being made.

Likewise, professional learning can be deep or superficial.

So, too, professional reading and writing can be deep or superficial.

Deep work is obviously essential when decisions are being made and when learning is the goal, either for adults or young people.

While deep work typically takes time, a lack of time is not an adequate excuse for superficiality because there is always time to do what matters.

Deep work requires:

Intentionality. It is essential that we are committed to deep work when we examine our individual and collective beliefs, values, ideas, and practices.

Habits of mind and behavior that value slowness over speed, sustained focus over multi-tasking, problem solving over complaining, and meaningful professional learning over “sit and get.”

Protocols that help participants pay attention to both task accomplishment and the quality of relationships.

What other things promote deep work?

6 Responses to “Deep work matters”


  1. 1 Ann Marie Luce March 30, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Deep work as a leader requires vision. You must intently chart the course for the team. The leader must be a co-learner with their team and have a knowledgeable other to support the new learning and to build the capacity of the leader and the team.

    • 2 Dennis Sparks March 30, 2016 at 8:11 am

      A compelling vision helps us focus our attention on what’s most important. Co-learners enable the kinds of conversation and feedback that promote deep work. Your comment is much appreciated, Ann Marie!

  2. 3 Kent Peterson March 30, 2016 at 10:02 am

    If “deep work” could become a cultural norm in a school, all would benefit.

  3. 5 Jpkillion March 30, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Work that matters


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