Craftsmanship is how you go about your daily tasks. It involves skill, often physical, acquired through hours and hours of practice until it becomes muscle memory. It also involved expertise, knowing how something is done, which tools to use, what good looks like and what the process steps are to achieve it. And often, it is embedded in a community of practice, a group of people doing similar things, using the same craft, that challenge and support each other and develop the craft as a whole. Medieval trade guilds worked like that.
Nowadays, we seem to have forgotten some of this as a lot of our world has become more and more digital and commoditized. We long for something physical, that shows the touch of the creator. The handmade bowl, the precision haircut, the wooden table, the perfect flat white, the bespoke suit.
Becoming a good craftsman takes time, practice and dedication. Whether you are apprenticing as a hair dresser or as a video editor. Too often, we want the results, but without really wanting to give people the time and space to develop into this, or without the willingness to pay for good craftsmanship.
When craftsmanship is present and valued, it is one of the most beautiful things of human interaction, it is the market working at its best. The craftsperson puts their heart, soul and skills into something, and finds it valued and enjoyed. The compensation they get stems from the other craftsperson performing their craft and getting fairly rewarded. Everyone brings their gifts to the table. Everyone wins. This might be romantic, but just imagine for a minute what work, what life would feel like if this was true. And then go and make it so…
Some thought starters how to bring craftsmanship to life:
- What does a day look like that fosters craftsmanship and respect for it?
- How do you do that bit of work?
- Does this influence your lunch and food choices?
- Your after work shopping?
- How you interact with people?
- How you seek out and reward expertise?
- How you respond to and make use of other people’s contributions? The feedback you give, the feedback you receive?