The other day I was intrigued by a chapter from the book “Myths, Stories and Organizations: Premodern Narratives for Our Times”. This particular chapter was written by David Sims and was titled “The Velveteen Rabbit and Passionate Feelings for our Organizations”.
In this chapter, Sims begins by telling the story of the 1922 children’s story “The Velveteen Rabbit” (Before you turn away, hear me out. This will later make sense). The story is about a boy who is given a toy velveteen rabbit for Christmas. The rabbit is enjoyed and played with by the boy until one day the boy is given other toys. The boy then becomes infatuated with the other toys and soon forgets about his rabbit. The sad rabbit then decides he wants to become “real” in the hopes that the boy will one day like him again. The rabbit decides to ask another toy, a toy horse, how he can become “real” and what real really is. The horse goes on to explain 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 become real. Hence they then come to life. What Sims main point is, is that emotions and feelings are the underlining building blocks to making an organization effective. On the contrary, there are opposing viewpoints that believe you should not personify organizations. Pointing out they don’t have eyes, they don’t have brains, they don’t have legs, they aren’t people and therefore, they shouldn’t be looked at as objects or something you can love.
Sims then brings up an extremely valid point. He mentions the Church…In the bible, the Church is compared to as a body and is essentially personified. What he states is “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. I don’t see one. Sims then goes on to provide several examples of business owners, university heads, leaders etc. Those who have great love for their organizations and those who don’t. There seems to be a strong correlation between passion and the effectiveness of an organization. Those who have individuals in their organizations that possess true love for their organization, have more success. I don’t think this is arguable.
What I will mention, is that I think there are two types of love. Real love and forced love. I think we live in a society where sometimes we are forced to love things that might not be what we want or even our passions. We are forced to love certain educational degrees, forced to love certain jobs, forced to love certain projects… which doesn’t always get the same end results as passion. So, I guess my point is, learning how to better allocate people to their passions and emphasizing the importance is key. We should turn our organizations into a more passionate place thus enhancing the overall effectiveness of the work place. Giving more people the power and choices to do the things they are truly passionate about. Even if it’s on small scale. It’s an idea, food for thought.
-LaTisha Perry, Penn State University
Sims, David. Velveteen rabbit and passionate feelings for organizations. In Myths, Stories, and Organizations : Premodern Narratives for our Times. Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 209-222.