Much as I am inspired by the irrationality of art, I admire people who exhibit precision and craft. To me, craft is about being proud of your work – no matter the breadth of it. “Craftspeople” perfect the little things that seem pointless. They dot their I’s, use a ruler whenever possible, and will restart if something is wrong. What is most fascinating and admirable, to me, is this dwindling cohort of people who truly care about harnessing and exercising their talents.
Craft is ego in its purest form. It is caring so deeply about a trade that one is willing to forego rationality to protect it. It is owning your work.
I think the unconventional thing about true craft is that you can find it anywhere, yet it hardly exists in the real world. In some ways, “craft” is a dying industry. We, in the United States, do not have an economy that structurally supports artists, blacksmiths, forgeries, etc.
Our economy, for the most part, is a machine that requires fuel and cogs to run efficiently. And, seemingly as we “scale as a society,” we forego craft for speed. We abandon art for productivity.
You find “craftspeople” in the weirdest of places, but you will know them as soon as you seem them. They are the people – the employees, the builders, the developers – who are irrationally proud of their work. You will see them making your coffee, sitting next to you at work, cleaning the floor at a restaurant, etc. As I said, craftspeople are *unfairly* compensated today. They work hard. They are proud of what they do just for the sake of it. And they do an awesome job because of that. But the world does not notice.
Ego finds itself in a weird place in the business world. On one hand, you want to be good at detaching your personal ego, and helping uncover the truth. The truth should always win, right? The truth does not really care about your personal biases, goals, and ambitions. The truth scares people into lying and covering things up.
At the same time, I think it is important to recognize the power of ego. Ego makes us human. Ego is our superpower. The ability to be selfish and be proud is immensely important. And while the “trend,” I think, among good product people is to be really good at removing ego from decision making…I would argue we need more of a balance. We need more craft. We need more bold decisions that are not entirely rational. Numbers do not build products…people do. And people use products (for the most part) too!
My ramblings come to a halt at the following point: the world needs more craftspeople. I think we will see companies begin to prioritize this, especially internet companies, as they build products for humans.
The newsfeed is not a human-product anymore. It is driven by ads, not human interactions. Instagram was a product built with craft, and I think still is in many ways, but will potentially lose it if monetization gets in the way.
What technology companies are “built with craft” ?
Also published on Medium.