Quite a bit back, I wrote on the subject of “No Job Titles.” The subject has come up again within Adaptive Path, as Todd’s post shows. There’s also been discussion on internal mailing lists, which prompted me to write the following:
I hate job titles.
I wish we could no longer have them for two reasons:
1) People get their identities so wrapped up in their job titles. There’s a reason “creative director” is banned from Adaptive Path. As I wrote in that long interview/discussion with GK van Patter:
“The moment we attach our identity to a label (“designer,” “information architect,” “engineer,” “New Yorker,” “San Franciscan,” “Catholic,” “Jew”) we lose perspective.”
2) Job titles suggest to clients and other external people that we are like other companies.
Adaptive Path succeeds best when we act in ways that are *not* typical for a company, particularly a services firm. Job titles is Playing the Game, and it allows a client to assume we are like our “competitors” because we have titles like they do. If we go into a meeting with no titles, that will tell potential clients/partners that we are different from what they’re used to dealing with.
And that’s a good thing. If the client is ready for different, great, let’s bring it on. If the client is not ready for different, we probably don’t want to engage.
(I use “competitors” in quotes not to suggest no one can compete with us, but because we have such a hard time defining who our competitors are…)
Something else I thought about today, talking to various companies in Minneapolis, is that job titles are particularly useless in our knowledge and services economy. Things are so fluid, and all that such labels do is put people in a box that probably doesn’t suit them.