Craft vs. DIY

Over the last hundred years we have got used to their being “Expert Answers”, “Best Practice” and consultants of all stripes have made very good livings from them.

The trouble is, they no longer work. The challenges we face are so complex, so multi faceted and so connected, solving problems by analogy no longer does it. The fact that it worked for someone else, somewhere else, sometime else does not mean it will work for you.

That leaves a dilemma. With so much call on our attention, how do we proceed. Consultants offer “band aid” relief but rarely long term solutions. There are thousands of good books and videos out there by reputable authors, but who has time to read enough of them to get a good balanced view? The battle for talent – recruitment and retention – is brutal.

We can adopt a DIY approach – doing the best we can with who and what we know across a range of disciplines from accountancy to the impact of machine learning, and end up with flat pack answers. Functional, cheap, and fast but no different to other people’s answers. Probably fine for the functional areas of operations, but not for those areas of relationships, purpose, connection and design, which are the stuff of original thinking.

Or we can adopt a craft approach to the areas where the difference really gets made – leadership, connection, compelling purpose. The things we are remembered for. Making a real and lasting difference to people’s lives.

Flat pack is fine for the kitchen table, but people will notice the difference between the artistry of the chef, and the convenience of a ready meal in the food you serve on it.

We can’t be craftswomen or men at everything we do, but that’s no reason for not dedicating yourself to the craft of something people will remember you for.

The power of craft

I noticed an interesting article in the Guardian regarding craft beers.

Essentially the rise in popularity of craft beers has prompted many of the major “industrial” brewers to bring out brands purporting to be craft beers. In many respects, nothing new there. Our supermarkets have been doing the same with food brands for some time, creating fictitious but appealing names to lure the unwary.

What was interesting to me though was the response of a spokesman for the industrial brewers, which in my view makes their agenda, and connection to what they produce, transparent.;

“Whether it’s ‘craft’ is really in the eye of the beholder. What we do see is that the majority of people view craft beer as looking a certain way, with slightly more flavour, and generally new, or perceived to be new.”

The nature of craft is very specific. In his book “Craftsman” Richard Sennet describes many facets of craft, but amongst them are a continuing search for improvement, and a visceral connection between the artist, her work, and her audience.

Craft is the stuff of the soul. It has the signature of the artist, and defines the artists life.

Craftsmen do not make products, they make artefacts.

Craft is not a marketing tag, it’s a way of life.

It is very difficult to fake, particularly by big business.