A declaration of independence

As 2012 draws to a close, I am declaring independence. Unilaterally, as of course only an individual can. What follows probably picks up on most themes of the workessence site during the year so draws a line under 2012.

So here is my declaration of independence from:

The system of Taylorist principles and mechanics – that says it’s more important than me and everything I do. In all reality it probably is. Yet with me, and all of the others like me, the system wouldn’t exist. It is what it is because of all of us. But I will choose my own Best Way, that will improve the system in its own small way too.

The compulsion to collaborate – so many of my ideas and inspirational thoughts come from my interactions, planned, spontaneous and xeno. My gratitude for the people I know and interact with is unbounded. But sometimes I just need to work alone. And, to decide when that will be. Don’t make me feel guilty for not spending all of my time “collaborating”, or tell me that if I don’t collaborate the end product will inevitably be useless.

Scripted workplaces – conceived in myth and designed in cocoons, pureed and served lukewarm, mute and neutered, telling me what to do and where to do it. Take down all those ridiculous signs. And if I see another slide, deckchair, sandpit, table tennis table or climbing wall, I cannot be held responsible. Like smoke rising, I will find my own corners.

The tyranny of faux popularity – likes, follows, endorsements, hits. I have seen many a social toolist tortured, fevered, ever more irrational from the obsessive drive to stamp badges of approval on their very existence. Independence affords gratitude for being followed, liked, endorsed and read, all without addiction. There are bots, after all, to satisfy every neurosis.

The needless validation of belonging – the badge, letters, affiliation, membership number, accreditation, stamp of approval, handshake. Most can be bought for cash, after all. As a Sea Scout I once got a badge for tying knots. I can still tie a round turn and two half hitches, but I no longer have the badge, and didn’t have to attend countless ropey events to maintain the CPD that says I can tie a knot. In an open source world, the individual has a free pass. Use it.

Conformist communication – but perhaps I declared independence from this a while ago, as supported by amassing my poetry of the last three years to find 98 pages with 20,000 words. The message has seen songs (co-written and wonderfully performed by @dougshaw1) and movie clips, pecha kucha and free form. But there have to be more, and more interesting ways still, to say it. A deck is not so much a “floored structure”, but a flawed structure. Jump.

The suffocation of myth – untested jargon, throwaway phrases repeated incessantly until they become a dangerous gospel. The worst of all is “work is something you do, not a place you go” – when for the vast majority of people it is both noun and verb. Empires are being built on sand, when we should let it run through our fingers.

The conventional convention – the clue is in the name. If we receive what we expected, was there any purpose at all? Gatherings must be unpredictable, unstructured, able to cope with shifting energy and direction, facilitating of interaction between individuals. The era of the 1:many is past.

Repackaging old ideas as new – ideas that should be called “knew” because we knew about them already. Some are fooled, most eventually are not. The blitzkrieg of marketing throughout our personal and working lives is driving an obsessive greed for “discovery”, the life of any product of which is a dragonfly’s daydream. Avoid.

Insularity – the amassing of knowledge, experience, perspective and wisdom, and the surrounding of it with barbed wire and warning. It is our gift, and the individual should share it freely that others can learn from it, and see their own world differently. On most days our disciplines are as muffled as though a carpet of snow has fallen. Without sharing, what is it all for?

If you have visited this site in 2012, read or commented on any of the posts, tweeted the posts or RT’d the tweets – I thank you sincerely. You make it all worthwhile.

Happy Saturnalia. See you in 2013.

7 thoughts on “A declaration of independence

  1. So much good stuff in one post. Knew v new, spot on. Thanks for your generosity, here’s to more experimenting in 2013 and beyond. Cheers!

  2. Yup… and the wheels came off the ‘workplace’ bandwagon some time ago, when it became a catch all design discipline for the dissafected and talentless almost rans in every corner of the commercial office sector. There is now so much marketing BS out there propogated by the big budgets of Furniture, D&B and IT that design based upon basic human understanding and clear communication is seen as old fashioned. It really does help alot if the room you work in is beautiful. There will always be constraints. Thanks Neil.

  3. I’m just sitting here chuckling to myself, recognising myself in some of your sentences. And guess what, it’s nearly Christmas so I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, munch on a mince pie and remember what’s really important. Merry Christmas one and all xx

  4. It’s a fineline between non-conformist and anti-social, which you tread better than me. Like the Plain English Speaking Society should we have a Plain Workplace (no BS) Soc? Or is that too obvious. Please keep up the questioning, blogs and poetry.

  5. Pingback: Best of the HR blogs December 2012: The HR bloggers' choice! | Employment Intelligence

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