Work By Design
  • Planning ahead of time what it will take to achieve a desired outcome
  • Thinking through the priorities, resources, and methods necessary to achieve a specific result
  • Working smarter, not just harder, by leveraging knowledge, experience, team skills and available tools


At Funds For Learning, it is our goal to focus our work on what is important, to do our work smartly and to achieve positive outcomes that are repeatable and sustainable. The way we go about doing that is something we call “Work by Design.” There are many ways to describe it but it can be summed up like this. Work By Design = purposefully using what we have in order to do effectively what should be done. As shown below, each of the four main elements of that description is there for a reason.

Read it again: purposefully using what we have in order to do effectively what should be done. It’s somewhat of a tongue-twister, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

Here are some questions to help you consider how well you are working by design. The questions are organized around the four elements of the description.


Am I being intentional with my efforts, or am I wandering and stumbling around? Hoping to end up at a destination rarely gets us there unless we decide to start heading that direction.

Is there a disconnect between my priorities and my efforts? Does my work take me towards, or away from, the stated goal?

Using What We Have

What skills, knowledge and experience may be useful in this situation? Which do I possess? What about my colleagues?

What tools and materials can we use? Are there existing methods that can be leveraged? What other resources are available?

What are the constraints? How much money can we spend? How much time is there? Are there laws or regulations that impact potential solutions? Are there other practical limitations?

In Order to do Effectively

What are the various approaches I can use to achieve the necessary outcome? What are their advantages and disadvantages?

Is there a better way to invest time and energy to fulfill the same need? Is the desired approach sustainable and repeatable? Can we afford to do it this way indefinitely?

Has this wheel already been invented? Are we using the right wheel? Is the wheel spinning in the proper direction?

What Should Be Done

Can I articulate the need that I am helping to address? Why is it necessary to accomplish the task or project?

What will success look like in this circumstance?

What is at stake? What will be the result if this isn’t done correctly and on time?


How we do what we do is almost always as important as what we do. Work By Design is a philosophy that encourages us to plan our work by thinking through the priorities, resources, and methods necessary to achieve the true results that we are after.

Additional reading

“…process in and of itself was never engineered to be the outcome, it was designed to support the creation of the proper outcomes.” –Mike Myatt, Efficient vs Effective, March 15, 2012


Key Words and Phrases

Skillful use of time and energy; Good use of resources with little waste; Produce desired result effectively; Work smarter, not just harder; Potent; Fruitful; Efficient; Productive

Opposite Terms

Wasteful; Ineffective; Unproductive; Ill-planned


Key Words and Phrases

Strive for an answer; Find a new way; Seek a resolution; Persevere; Solve a problem; Deliver the results; Don’t stop at the first hurdle; Address the need.

Opposite Terms

Close-minded; Decline; Reject; Refuse.


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