People who get into the business of design ethnography and qualitative customer insight research do it because they love it. We have studied and worked in this field because we truly believe that this kind of work can eventually make someone’s life better. Some days I help improve and redesign error messages and swipe interactions, but these little poorly designed cognitive burdens add up and make your life harder than it needs to be. Other days I conduct in-depth research with customers on touchy personal topics of great social importance. Having such love for your domain sometimes makes it hard to step back and get perspective. I am *almost* a passionate explorer, but I could use some work and I will always keep learning. I found some good tools to help re-frame how I thought about work and my passion and I am going to share them with you here.
This year Deloitte published an interesting report out of the Centre for the Edge, a future focused think tank based in the USA, Europe, and Australia. John Hagel and John Seely Brown head it up, you should Google these fine folks to see their fabulous careers and awesome research cred. John Seely Brown was at Xerox’s PARC for years, that is where ethnography and UX collided in the early days of people who did things like design ethnography, but didn’t call it that yet. John Hagel is a strategist and innovator, who not so secretly has a bit of a passion for passion? I’ll explain.
My point is that the Centre for the Edge has put forth some interesting ideas regarding the difference between the standard (read antiquated) employee engagement measures and the new world of the passionate worker. The passion of the explorer is a set of characteristics that are displayed by a category of workers that are more likely to be employed at successful companies. By reverse logic, if you employ these people, your company will increase the probability of healthy dividends. Passion of the explorer can be identified by 3 core concepts: commitment to the domain, questing and connecting. You can watch John Hagel’s video explaining the core concepts of the report.
What impacted me is that, we can become even more passionate explorers, and what’s more is that others can be uplifted into this realm even if they had no interest in it before. The caveat is that I am assuming being a passionate explorer is awesome and that many people in the UX, design, and design research industries are already obsessed with being one. We can now identify and measure our own individual progress as passionate explorers and make plans to work on the parts crucial to our way of working. I really enjoyed this report and the way it laid out a very simple way of understanding the difference between passionate at work and miserable at work.
Additional resources to keep exploring the topic of a passionate workforce
Full Report: Unlocking the passion of the Explorer: Report 1 of the 2013 Shift Index series From the Deloitte Center for the Edge
A Blogpost from John Hagel about what passionate workers want: John Hagel’s blog on the Manifesto of the Creative Passionate Worker:
Report on the way we need to redesign our work environments physically and experientially in order to move towards more creative and passionate work: Work Environment Redesign Case Studies
DISCLAIMER: I work at Deloitte Digital, but I posted this because I really liked this stuff and it helped me in understanding my own goals