Does passion create high functioning organizations? What sparked this question was a chapter from a book I read in my Masters Program revolving around Organizational Development. The book was “Myths, Stories and Organizations: Premodern Narratives for Our Times” and the particular chapter was “The Velveteen Rabbit and Passionate Feelings for our Organizations” by David Sims.
In this chapter, Sims speaks to how having passion for an organization can bring a company to life. He uniquely explains his thought by comparing his overall idea to a childhood book.
Sims begins by telling the story of the 1922 children’s story “The Velveteen Rabbit”. The story is about a boy who is given a toy velveteen rabbit for Christmas. The young boy adores the rabbit and plays with him everyday until one day he is given other toys. He becomes infatuated with his new toys and soon forgets about his rabbit. This is a tragedy for his toy rabbit who quickly decides he wants to become “real” in the hopes that the boy will one day like him again. The rabbit ask another toy, a toy horse, how he can become “real” and what real really is. The horse explains to the rabbit, real is once you are loved and when a child loves you for a long time, you can then become real.
Long story short, Sims begins to compare organizations to this childhood story explaining that once organizations are loved, they can then become real or in this case functioning at a high level. It’s a strange outlook to compare organizations to a childhood book but the story offers a good comparison. Sims main point is that emotions and feelings are the underlining building blocks to making an organization effective and/or whole. On the contrary, there are opposing viewpoints that believe you should not personify organizations because they do not have human like characteristics. They are objects and not something you can love.
Sims also mentions the bible as a comparison. In the bible, the Church is compared to a body and is personified. What he states is that “this image of the Church as a body has been a powerful one for two millennia, and has generated and sustained many narratives by means of which people have understood themselves and what they are doing within Western culture” (Sims, 212).
People are not ashamed to love the Church, which in a way, is an organization…so what’s the shame in loving an organization and personifying it which is Sims overarching viewpoint. He backs up his reasoning by providing several examples of business owners, university heads and leaders who have great love for their organizations versus those who don’t. There is a strong correlation between passion and the effectiveness of an organization. Those who lead with individuals who possess passion have more success. It’s not arguable.
In my opinion, we live in a society where we are forced to love things that we may not have passion for. We are forced to love certain educational degrees, to love certain jobs, to love certain projects… which doesn’t always get the same end result as passion. My outlook is that we should learn to better allocate people to their passions which in return would turn our organizations into a more passionate place; enhancing the overall effectiveness of the work place. Giving more people the power and choice to do the things they are truly passionate about. Even if it’s on small scale.