Corporate Passion vs. Creative Passion

People ask me, “How can I get our employees to be passionate about the company?” Wrong question. Passion for our employer, manager, current job? Irrelevant. Passion for our profession and the kind of work we do? Crucial. If I own company FOO, I don’t need employees with a passion for FOO. I want those with a passion for the work they’re doing. The company should behave just like a good user interface — support people in doing what they’re trying to do, and stay the hell out of their way. Applying the employer-as-UI model, the best company is one in which the employees are so engaged in their work that the company fades into the background.

–Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users

As always, a great read from Kathy. But I particularly like her quick checklist outlining key differences between passion for the employer versus passion for the work. The latter half just about mirrors how I see myself:

Passionate about the work:

* Scores well on the 4-question test:
– keeps up with trade/professional journals
– knows who the key people in the industry are
– would spend his own money, if necessary, for better tools
– if they were NOT doing this as their job, they would still do something related to it as a hobby

* Works late nights when, “I’m just one-compile away from this awesome refactoring that’s going to make this thing run 40% faster.” In other words, they work late when they’re driven by something they know they can do better on.

* Defends the quality of his own work (and, in the Hollywood Model, the work of his team).

* Puts responsibility to his own ethics and values–especially related to quality of work–over responsibility to employer.

* May not be extremely well-liked, but is highly respected and tolerated because he’s known as one who, “cares deeply about doing the best possible job, and is very good at what he does.” [update: the person must be liked well enough for people to want to work with him again… the Hollywood Model has a way of screening out a**holes… nobody calls them for their next project.]

* Does not accept, “this is what corporate needs us to do” when it conflicts with quality and ethics. Must be given a damn good reason why a corporate decision is worth the downsides.

* Does not care about upward mobility in the company. Cares about doing fabulous work and possibly the recognition of his peers in the industry. May strive for professional recognition.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.