In the past the word 'craft' was much more common place. As a society, we appreciated the effort, skill and art it took to build one’s craft. To become an expert.
Today, in our throwaway society, we are focused on the benefits of automation, while losing the beauty and art of how our products are crafted by our artisans. We often take for granted the time, skill, and focus it takes to create our daily products and services. However, according to Goldman Sachs, there is a consumer megatrend showing an increase in the demand for artisan products – soaps, breads, whiskeys, and many more products are increasing their artisan appeal in the market. These are tangible products where we can look, feel and often taste the difference in how they are produced. Makes sense that we may start to seek these out more.
So, what about services? The not so tangible stuff.
More often we are seeing consumers support the little guy, the local underdog who pays more attention to how they provide their services, adding art to their craft. For example, in New Zealand there has been a shift in the telco industry, with smaller, local providers such as 2Degrees popping up and successfully competing with the established brands. The trick will be for them to hold onto their artisan approach as they grow.
This thinking is equally relevant to internal business services such as human resources. Any business should have people at its core, otherwise there simply is no business. Yet I all too often hear people related services referred to as ‘just admin’ or ‘that fluffy stuff’. So why have our people (human) resources services started to lose their value and appreciation of the craft?
Compliance Conundrums: Understandably, business try to avoid risk by increasing employment relations compliance. Although important, there needs to be a balance, otherwise your business and employees suffer when compliance takes over common sense.
For the Sake of Admin: Closely following compliance is administration. You know the old ‘fill this form out if you want…’, ‘this is the approval process for…’. We’ve all lost ourselves in process, and the drivers (HR?) of these processes can become the admin tyrants. Not what we want to be known for.
Stifled Innovation: Ever heard of high compliance and administration enhancing innovation? I haven’t. If we lead with these facets, how will we ever support the fast paced, innovative world of work that we find ourselves in most often? Let’s build our innovative thinking within HR and really get things humming.
I truly believe that with these elements in mind, and a bit of extra craftsmanship, we can take a moment to appreciate the craftsman and artists in our businesses – from the receptionist to the CEO and ultimately our people practices.
PS. If you are interested in the story behind the clock image for this post. Check out Artisan Inc’s Facebook page.