It's results that matter - not activities.
That statement encapsulates a "widely-held" management perspective that managers should evaluate workers based on the effectiveness of output produced and not by how much they are working. But is it such a widely-held belief? Dr. Andrew McAfee writes in an older post (and in the context of E2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, etc.):
Companies that are full of knowledge workers and that have built cultures that value busyness face a potentially sharp dilemma when it comes to E2.0. These companies stand to benefit a great deal if they can build emergent platforms for collaboration, information sharing, and knowledge creation. But they may be in a particularly bad position to build such platforms not because potential contributors are too busy, but because they don't want to be seen as not busy enough.
Dr. McAfee's post made me back up and think more generally about busyness and cases such as the following:
- where managers use instant messaging and presence to monitor whether employees are at their computers (as a proxy for work activity)
- how those in Western cultures may tend view someone just sitting at their desk and thinking as being lazy and unproductive whereas those in Eastern cultures may potentially view such people as being productive
- where consultants or analysts generate tons of paper or analyses (and which may vary by geography), but fail to tie things together into a set of cohesive key learnings or recommendations
- how some workaholics may criticize or think less of the Levis 501 worker types (those that line up at 5:00pm and leave at 5:01pm)
- where salespeople are viewed as wasting their time by sending cute emails to people or talking constantly about non-work matters with colleagues in their network
So I dunno. It seems plausible that busyness might be valued both to the detriment of productivity and with insufficient respect for technology limitations and global cultures. Are times and contexts changing?