The power of impact

Impact is a word that is often used when talking about working with millennials. Millennials want to work with purpose, and they want to have an impact, it is said.

I think this is a result of our current bureaucratic system. In the course I’m following onc Coursera (‘Managing the company of the future’), professor Julian Birkinshaw talks about how bureaucracy can create a disempowerment of employees.

Employees can become a shackle in a paperwork-chain of rules, procedures and formalities. They are given a chunk of a manager’s responsibilities and they just need to perform. But they often don’t really see the end result.

When I look at recent developments with people I know and friends I have, I see this trend coming up as well. A lot of people tend to ‘go back’ to manual labour, because you can see the ‘fruit of your labour’ as Birkinshaw puts it.

They take up jobs in construction or start painting as a hobby. The fruit of your labour plus a feeling of satisfaction is your impact. You could try to figure out what gives you this feeling, how you could actually see the fruit of your labour. What job that would entitle.


I used to work as a teacher. In our current education system, and in the schools I used to work, I didn’t really feel I had an impact. I was doing my very best to help my student develop themselves. But if I really wanted to be efficient, the system wasn’t helping. There were all kinds of final attainment goals to take into account, and it restricted my creativity and these kids often needed an adaptive style of teaching.

So I tried out tutoring and counseling students outside the system, and that’s were satisfaction kicked in. Suddenly, I received text messages from students saying “I got an 15/20 for my English exam and I couldn’t have done it without you.” and I was all smiles.


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