The danger of passion…

Like many enterprise architects, I am extremely passionate about my work. I like to work with and employ passionate people. But the passion that creates drive, which causes them to push through when others would stop, is dangerous. It can override sensitivity to other people’s feelings. It can mean poorly thought through action prevails over a considered plan.

If you are about to employ a passionate person then think it through. Get them to work through tough scenarios. When they miss out on a promotion or pay rise because they upset a key person who doesn’t understand passion, how would they deal with it? When a colleague actively obstructs them, how will they handle it? When the strategy that they have worked on for six months is rejected by the board, what will their reaction be? Can you help them think things through without stifling their power? Can you protect them? How would they avoid the situation? How would they reduce the damage caused to other people and themselves? How will you look? How will you deal with the problems that a passionate person can cause? You need to understand how you will use and direct this passion for positive effect. You need to understand how you will manage the risk to yourself and your passionate employee.

As a passionate person, you need to understand that how ever much your employer talks about wanting people who are passionate, this is usually a myth. The job adverts and person profiles are mostly written by “dry old fish” who wouldn’t recognise passion if it came up and kissed them. They are writing to attract staff, they may be half copying someone else’s work, they are selling. You are buying, you need to make sure it is not a con. Can your new manager cope with you? Will they protect you? Is the political situation one where you will be easily provoked into rash action?

Take a walk around the office — it is easy to spot passion — there should be raised voices, there should be people standing around talking animatedly about work. If there is quiet, if people are huddled in their own cubicles with little interaction then there is no passion. A passionate person communicates and shares. If there is quiet then you will be a misfit. Are you willing to be a pioneer and create some, at least initially, unwelcome noise? Does your new manager really want you to disrupt the current peaceful working environment? Is your new manager prepared to take a risk? Is your new manager prepared to have some fun?

Glass and Steel

I travelled between our two London offices today. The contrast between old London and new London is breathtaking.

One office is in an area of London regenerated in recent years. The area is a monotone, monoculture. It is a work place, yes there are houses but they are houses for workers. There are green areas, relaxation areas for workers. Shops for workers, buses for workers, trains for workers, eating places for workers. Where is it? I don’t know. This micro-city of steel and glass is devoid of any sense of place, a joyless desert devoid of humanity.

The other office is just off Piccadilly, near Leicester Square and theatre land. It is in the bustling heart of the west end, full of tourists, cosmopolitan. It is colourful and lively. There is a mixture of people dressed for fun and for work. There is a mixture of ages from little children in prams to elderly people and every age in between. There is the whole diverse spread of humanity. This office feels alive.