Today a colleague of mine, @jeremyjohnson (His UX hipster-chic blog here) threw out a bright idea as we lamented over some of the unique challenges and roadblocks we each face in our day-to-day roles, and how we seem to run into the same challenges involving the same individuals over and over again.
“What if… we could make lay-off decisions through internal crowdsourcing?” he said. “Like a thumbs up? Or thumbs down for this person…” and then the bad apples at the bottom would naturally be weeded out?
I laughed, then realized it’s a genius idea… almost as great as simply installing a trap door in each cube that is triggered any time a passive aggressive email is sent. But for one, this idea is more feasible… two, it’s almost as funny. And three, I’ve felt most large organizations have needed something exactly like this before – just was never able to articulate a solution as great as his.
Then I began to wonder… “The only problem with this approach is that I very well might get voted out too, now that I think about it…” I realized that in my career today, “Most Popular” my senior superlative certainly would not be.
Over the last three years I have worked my way up in an organization that, while continuing to take bold steps and create ground-breaking products, certainly still has its token “We do it this way and that’s that”ers, just like every large company. These individuals always seem to throw up that last, ridiculous roadblock that will mockingly sit between you and your project’s imminent success… while smiling and joking with you in large meetings all along the way.
No one else sees it… but you. And their jobs continue to be a cake-walk without the extra work you just proposed, exactly as they like it.
They have been doing this for years. Sitting in their cubes. Staking their claim. Collecting their paychecks. Automating their jobs. Politicizing behind the scenes. And drilling theoretical screws into the ground to ensure that not only do their objectives never grow or change from year-to-year, but that their view of the lake as they maintain status quo is absolute perfection.
Those people hate me. No doubt. And I think I’m okay with that.
I enjoy challenging how we do things. Crazily enough, I make every single decision during my day based on what is best for my company as a whole. To my peers, I probably seem as though I somehow find joy in getting shut down so often. But I know… or at least strongly believe… that one day, as long as I continue to communicate in an effective way and am genuine and kind to everyone around me, the breakthrough will happen.
Maybe I’m crazy for fighting this type battle at a large company, but someone has to do it. And I am certain that in some way shape or form, every company needs exactly this – its very own unpopular crowd.
I still cling to the hope that one day soon the thought-leaders will outnumber the bad apples, for the betterment of our organization and our industry as a whole. When that day comes, the thumbs down icon will have never have looked so beautiful.