• DATE May 14, 2013
  • URL oneinstitute.com/tile/good-work/

Good Work

The three things that allow people to do their work well

In his book On Thinking Institutionally, Hugh Heclo cites a recent study at Harvard that sought to understand how people become the sort who do good work, understood in the sense of “a humane, responsible, and consistent quality of moral behavior” – in addition to a high job performance rating. The study found that good work stems from three things.

1. Strong sense of moral commitment to larger purposes than oneself
2. Professional ethic demonstrated by influential people in one’s working life
3. Lineages of worthy models from the past to guide the way to the future

“In short,” Heclo writes, “a person learns to think institutionally by being around and identifying with people who model and reinforce one’s appreciation for institutional values. This produces a gradual, perhaps only half-conscious shaping of character.”