Building An Environment Where People WANT to Work

Ah, I miss Kathy Sierra’s blog, Creating Passionate Users. Every once in a while, I go back through her archives to peruse her many wonderful illustrations, and Management 2.0 wisdom. Tonight as I was searching through her site looking for tidbits relevant to some of the issues within my own organization, I came across one of my favorite old posts. I think I’ve blogged about this entry before, but thought I’d repost because, once again, she nailed it. Enjoy:

People ask me, "How can I get our employees to be passionate about the company?" Wrong question. Passion for our employer, manager, current job? Irrelevant. Passion for our profession
and the kind of work we do? Crucial. If I own company FOO, I don’t need
employees with a passion for FOO. I want those with a passion for the
work they’re doing. The company should behave just like a good user
interface — support people in doing what they’re trying to do, and stay the hell out of their way. Applying the employer-as-UI model, the best company is one in which the employees are so engaged in their work that the company fades into the background.

Given a choice, I would work ONLY on projects that followed the
Hollywood Model, where people come together with their respective
skills and talents, and DO something. Make a web app. Create a book.
Build a game. Develop and deliver learning experiences. The happiest
moments of my work life were on projects where we pulled all-nighters
because we wanted to, not because the corporate culture said we weren’t a true team-player/trooper if we didn’t.


Passionate about the company:

* The ultimate team player who goes along with the group rather than voice dissent

* Works late nights and weekends because "everyone needs to pitch in on this project"

* Defends the company to anyone, anywhere that criticizes or questions its products, policies, or practices

* Puts responsibility to employer above responsibility to customers, without question

* Questions, but does not challenge the status quo

* Is well-liked because they do whatever is asked, enthusiastically

* Accepts (and uses) phrases like, "this is what corporate needs us to do."

* Cares a lot about his career path in the company; focused on getting management recognition.



Passionate about the work:

* Scores well on the 4-question test:
   – keeps up with trade/professional journals
   – knows who the key people in the industry are
   – would spend his own money, if necessary, for better tools
   – if they were NOT doing this as their job, they would still do something related to it as a hobby

* Works late nights when, "I’m just one-compile away from this
awesome refactoring that’s going to make this thing run 40% faster." In
other words, they work late when they’re driven by something they know
they can do better on.

* Defends the quality of his own work (and, in the Hollywood Model, the work of his team).

* Puts responsibility to his own ethics and values–especially related to quality of work–over responsibility to employer.

* May not be extremely well-liked, but is highly respected and
tolerated because he’s known as one who, "cares deeply about doing the
best possible job, and is very good at what he does." [update: the
person must be liked well enough for people to want to work with him
again… the Hollywood Model has a way of screening out a**holes…
nobody calls them for their next project.]

* Does not accept, "this is what corporate needs us to do" when it
conflicts with quality and ethics. Must be given a damn good reason why
a corporate decision is worth the downsides.

* Does not care about upward mobility in the company. Cares about
doing fabulous work and possibly the recognition of his peers in the
industry. May stive for professional recognition.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.

1 Response

  1. Kelly says:

    I like this blog. Very good Danielson…(in the voice of Mr. Miagi)