Are you a robot?

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For a long time, business owners wanted robots. Many still think they do. Obedient, efficient, precise – qualities that were highly valued in the manufacturing era in which most of us got an education and entered the workforce. Our entire educational system is based on making human robots – grades are effectively batches of similarly aged human robots, and standardized testing is effectively basic quality control. Robots deliver precise metrics that managers crave – X number of widgets manufactured, X number of items painted, X speed of items processed at the cashier.


The problem with robotic work, of course, is that robots stop doing work the moment they’re no longer told to do so. They don’t create. They don’t innovate. They’re not passionate. They don’t volunteer to work late. They don’t have ideas to make a process better or make a customer happier. Nothing inspires a robot to deliver any more than what its performance specifications say it can deliver. True, they don’t have motivational issues or call in sick, but nor are they ever going to help you make an innovative breakthrough to take your company to the next level.

In a world and an economy where creativity and innovation define winners and losers, human robots are the last things you need on your team.

Now imagine the antithesis of robotic work: a vocation. For the linguistically disinclined, vocation comes from the Latin verb vocare: to call. Originally meant to refer to people who heard the call to an organized religion, it has expanded to include hearing any kind of calling towards a higher cause.

Can you articulate exactly how what you do on a daily basis makes the world a better place?

Can you articulate how your cause inspires in your team the calling they need to get excited, to get pumped, to be willing to go to absurd lengths on behalf of the people and customers they serve? If you’re the chief executive, can you explain in a tight, compact way how your company makes the world a better place and is worthy of the devotion that you think it should generate?

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One response to “Are you a robot?”

  1. Cyborg, actually. Capable of thinking for myself, in addition to performing the robotic tasks of my employer.

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