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The danger of passion…

Like many enterprise architects, I am extremely passionate about my work. I like to work with and employ passionate people. But the passion that creates drive, which causes them to push through when others would stop, is dangerous. It can override sensitivity to other people’s feelings. It can mean poorly thought through action prevails over a considered plan.

If you are about to employ a passionate person then think it through. Get them to work through tough scenarios. When they miss out on a promotion or pay rise because they upset a key person who doesn’t understand passion, how would they deal with it? When a colleague actively obstructs them, how will they handle it? When the strategy that they have worked on for six months is rejected by the board, what will their reaction be? Can you help them think things through without stifling their power? Can you protect them? How would they avoid the situation? How would they reduce the damage caused to other people and themselves? How will you look? How will you deal with the problems that a passionate person can cause? You need to understand how you will use and direct this passion for positive effect. You need to understand how you will manage the risk to yourself and your passionate employee.

As a passionate person, you need to understand that how ever much your employer talks about wanting people who are passionate, this is usually a myth. The job adverts and person profiles are mostly written by “dry old fish” who wouldn’t recognise passion if it came up and kissed them. They are writing to attract staff, they may be half copying someone else’s work, they are selling. You are buying, you need to make sure it is not a con. Can your new manager cope with you? Will they protect you? Is the political situation one where you will be easily provoked into rash action?

Take a walk around the office – it is easy to spot passion – there should be raised voices, there should be people standing around talking animatedly about work. If there is quiet, if people are huddled in their own cubicles with little interaction then there is no passion. A passionate person communicates and shares. If there is quiet then you will be a misfit. Are you willing to be a pioneer and create some, at least initially, unwelcome noise? Does your new manager really want you to disrupt the current peaceful working environment? Is your new manager prepared to take a risk? Is your new manager prepared to have some fun?

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Reader Comments (6)

Excellent Observation and Points for other side of passion.


February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVinayak Ragho

A nice thought provoking write up!

February 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRavindran Chellappa

Is passion always extraverted?

Agree about the cut and paste job ads and the aggrandisement of job titles.

March 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

As a passionate person, you need to understand that how ever much your employer talks about wanting people who are passionate, this is usually a myth.

I absolutely agree.

Passion with a prediliction to collateral damage is a dangerous combination. Having passion and being able to identify the pace you can "push through" in an organisation is a key skill. Having this skill allows you to work out whether an organisation will be able to transform itself against the EA agenda.

Having led a number of passionate creative teams I believe it's important to ensure the passion is used productively and the team is always perceived as moving forward with minimal or managable collateral damage.

May 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Winskill

Love it. Passion with communication that is two way (receive and transmit) win every time for me. Passionate sometimes bridges logic to go from A to C - as in "strong feeling". Without communication is cannot be evaluated for risk and we, as architects, need also to deal with risk. Passionate with respect to the future is worthy of more than a passing reference. Passionate that applies to the present must be quantified more carefully.

Just a few thoughts .....

pas·sion·ate /ˈpæʃənɪt/ [pash-uh-nit] –adjective
1. having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: a passionate advocate of socialism.

May 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Ross-Talbot

Great post! I think that in any career, communication is essential, and passion is just one more important factor in this process. It is important to know who are talking to, and adjust your "passion" level to their personality. If you are courteous of those around you, you are bound to have a successful career.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

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