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.
I love the story of being real… It is such a good way of describing authenticity.
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed (:
Denny K says
Nice piece of thought-provoking writing. Definitely some big benefits to working from a place of your strengths and passion. I’m just not sure where the greater responsibility for matching passion with position lies. In the person or the organization.
I work for an organization that has been in business for over 170 years. I’ve spent the vast majority of my career with this organization, and I am not an outlier. Although our products and processes are very ordinary, there is an unusual amount of passion among the people. Passion for what we do and who we serve. I’m not sure if it is love or personification, but it makes a positive difference. I think it sets us apart from others in our industry. The culture has helped me want to go to work for over thirty years. It’s not for everyone but there is a strong core of people who really care about our mission.
Thank you. I really enjoyed reading your response…I would have to agree, I am not sure if it’s the greater responsibly of the organization or the person. Maybe both! I think a mixture is appropriate. A person should express their interest and organizations should leverage strengths.
Your company is a great example. Culture can certainly set aside those in the industry and is something all organizations should focus on enhancing. It’s not easy though, culture is a very unique animal… lol
Dave Gardner says
Great article! I wanted to reach out to thank you for following Daily Ramblings. I always follow back and look forward to your postings. Have a great weekend!! ~Dave
Thank you!!! Look forward to yours as well!
Beautiful post and article Latisha (I am assuming it is your name😊)
I have worked for many organisations and many of them still seem my own, family like – though I quit those decades back; while a couple of them don’t arouse any passion or feel good spirit. I am all for considering an organisation as a family.
I am now associated with Self Realisation Fellowship and that is more family than many families.
But I sincerely believe there can’t be a forced love. At least I don’t understand this emotion.
For me God is Love and Love is all there is.
It’s interesting how a message in “The Velveteen Rabbit” can be applied to organizations.