Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-06-07

Successful firms honor individual spirit...

"If there is a shadow of a doubt someplace, that will cause a weakness."
--Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

Remember the scene in Lord of the Rings when Boromir desires to betray Frodo, and the Elf Queen sees into his heart and forewarns Frodo of Boromir's crumbling spirit, knowing that his questioning would poison the group and thwart their efforts?

Okay, my point is not as dramatic as all of that. After all, companies are not likely to shape the course of the world... or are they? We all have felt the negative draw of those who work against the team, either because they disagree with leadership or simply do not really want to take part in the collective efforts.

Having been an employee at a job that was not one of my passions, I can attest to having been that person who does not share the collective vision. When the vision is to make money for someone else, it's tough to invest in the spirit of teamwork, unless you really enjoy your job and the company.

The problem that most team leaders and managers seek to quell is this - the majority of workers are not in a position that stirs their soul. They are bored. They do not care about their job or the company they work for. So management spends tons of money trying to figure out how to harness employee energy, and employees take the position of drone and toil without intellectual stimulation or enthusiasm.

Part of what makes creative firms work, in my opinion, is the shared appreciation for talent. Most people entering creative firms are driven by their desire to do the work. In other words, they like what they do. If they aren't entrepreneurial, they are probably looking for a position in a firm they can grow with. This is the ultimate goal for any firm - finding the right person means really getting to know the individual on their terms, rather than ignoring them and hoping to mold them into drones.

I'm of the thought that there will never be the right job for everyone. The fact is, in order for a large company to make LOTS of money, they must have an army of workers. Of those involved, there cannot be the same level of ownership per individual because the company is doing what it takes to maintain a level of profitability. To do that, a certain level of detachment must take place as corporate goals are often in conflict with employee needs.

I also believe that there are numerous people who have not been taught how to practice self-awareness and have no idea what makes them truly happy. Their fatalism and the malaise of poverty often create that league of drone workers, and so the cycle continues....Such is the fate of factories and transient workers.

This is why the focus of any small firm should be its people. Why? Because we can pay attention. We should not have to grapple with teamwork woes because we have the time and resources to carefully listen and learn from those entering the firm. We have the time to appreciate the talents and the limitations of those with whom we share the floor.

There's no excuse for ongoing internal strife in small firms. It's a matter of listening and not forgetting that everyone, even that part-time person or associate, impacts the success or failure of the firm's collective goals.
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