Little by little...

Little by little...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Throw the Hammer

I work at a nice company. The people are friendly. The benefits are good. The grounds are well manicured and there is beautiful artwork throughout the complex. It’s nice.

Yet there is something wrong here. Not Stepford Wives wrong, but just this feeling that I’ve been struggling to understand. Reading Seth's Blog the other day, a phrase jumped out at me:

“They institutionalize organized cowardice.”

I noticed my head nodding instinctively. I am surrounded by cowardice. I am surrounded by people who waste their creativity playing the prevailing politics game, people who stay silent while their team languishes, people who accept technology tools because they don’t want to fill out an exception form.

When you praise people for completing their TPS reports on time, rather than for questioning the purpose of the reports, you foster compliance. You create Docker-wearing drones who don’t share ideas, don’t question decisions and don’t color outside the lines.

Some days, I want to be the hammer-hurling girl in Apple's 1984  commercial. In my version, I run through our mazes, tearing down cubicles and the polite, little signs that say, “Please be quiet. This is a work area.”

But I still need my job, so maybe I’ll just wear forbidden flip-flops to work and spend my lunch walking through the well-manicured grass in my bare feet. I might inspire a few people to kick off their shoes and join me. That is until they put up a sign that says, "Keep off the grass." 


  1. "But I still need my job" -- there is the answer for much of the cowardice. There are also those who I guess prefer political stuff to actually getting their assigned work done. And then there are the "it's just a job" types who might view work merely as cash flow, not a career or a passion.

    My unsolicited advice:
    1) save, save, save, until you have 6 months salary (and keep going). Then you need not fear wielding that metaphoric hammer when things that are wrong need to be called out.
    2) Seek to find or create that place you would rather work. WTH, start in your current job, acting as if it were the ideal place. See what happens :-)

    1. Thanks for the advice; sometimes unsolicited is the best kind. ;)

      Most days, I am optimistic that I can create a sanctuary of agility (aka teamwork, quality, craftsmanship, etc) among the bureaucracy. But I should start saving, as the bad days are starting to out-number the good.

  2. I have seen someone, a recent colleague, take the non-cowardice role. He was a divisive character. He did the right things, worked the best way, and upset many people. Then he was made redundant, while many less technical but more passive staff were retained.

    I left the company soon after. Some places fear changes, and in those places there is not much that can be done. But it is better to align yourself with a company holding similar goals.

    I don't feel brave enough to go against a company like this person did, but he influences my decision on where to work now and is a role model for what I want to achieve.

    I think, push things forward and, if you leave a company behind, then leave them behind and find one that can keep up. There are plenty out there.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I am blessed to have a couple of awesome mentors who inspire me. I hope that I can do the same for others some day.