Artisans and corporates are not mutually exclusive. I have seen, worked with, and continue to see artisans at work in corporates.
The challenge is that they are often unseen and unrecognised by the “leadership” of the organisation.
They are invisible because they solve problems rather than flag them.
They are rarely on bonus schemes.
I see them in accounts, in development, in IT and in customer services. I see them working late, and in their own time, not because they are being asked to or rewarded but because it’s what they do. It’s their craft.
They are often taken for granted because it’s what they do.
They are the glue that keeps things together when things are under pressure.
They are very evident right now, quietly coping with the anomalies of rapidly evolving systems, reassuring customers and colleagues and just making things work.
They are not creative artists in the workplace (although may be at home).
Corporate artisans are organisational glue. When things go wrong, they seep into the cracks that appear and hold things together. They improvise and do things outside and beyond policy and process in order to get the job done.
They clean up after hubristic managers.
They are usually far more recognised by suppliers and clients than they are by HR or senior management.
They will not be replaced by AI (though many orgsanisations will know this only after the event)
They are not pedddling their resumes, and are rarely noticed by recruiters.
Without them right now, many organisations would fail.
And they’re often ok with all of this. They enjoy their work, the appreciation of those they work alongside, and don’t need plaudits.
We take them for granted at our peril.