Engagement: how you add a Maker-feel to a desk job

Do you have a desk job? The chances are pretty big. Imagine you take a few weeks (or even a few days) off. During that time, you dedicate yourself to renovating a house, building a tree house with your kids, preparing your garden for the next season or any other form of manual labour. When the evening comes, you see the progress you’ve made.



By the time you get back to the office, your batteries are full … yet you are having difficulties to gear yourself up again. In fact, if you could choose, you’d go back to ‘making’.

“Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake. Taking the time you need to do something well, is profoundly stabilizing to individuals,” writes Richard Sennett in The Craftsman.

There are reasons why Making becomes addictive. Some of them are linked to key drivers of internal motivation (cfr. Drive by Dan Pink): becoming more skilled at something (mastery), being able to complete a job on your own (autonomy) and see you have actually created a thing of value for yourself or others (purpose). Hence the Maker movement is the pursuit for Craftification.

There are a number of approaches proper to Making that you can apply to a desk job. These approaches allow you to appeal to your inner craftsman and crank up your engagement and your colleagues’.

  1. Don’t just talk in meetings, but make stuff: timelines, prototypes, overviews, storylines, schedules, processes or journeys. Make sure every meeting has an ‘end product’.
  2. Visualise as much as possible. One of the advantages of a Maker is that he can showcase something tangible. Work together on the flipchart or whiteboard (extra advantage: you’ll be moving, which gives you more energy than sitting down).
  3. Plan Makertime in your agenda: blocks of a few hours in which you can make progress on a deliverable without being interrupted (some call this “prime action hours”).
  4. Make stuff with an end user or a customer in mind: what would (s)he like, how will you solve his/her problem? How will you help or even surprise your (internal) customer today?
  5. Finish your work ! In today’s rat race and still often Taylor-like processes, temptation is high to work on something and then throw it over the wall for the next guy to handle it. Whether you are making code, texts, plans, strategy documents, analysis … take the time to review and polish it and make a finished piece. Try to learn from previous experiences in order to plan realistically when outputs will be ready.

“Make sure you can be satisfied with your work at the moment your ‘time is up’ and you need to hand it over.”