When the design for the Apple Macintosh was complete, Steve Jobs had the small team sign a piece of paper, then engraved the signatures on the inside of the case of every machine that went out of the factory. Painters sign their works of art, authors their books. Musicians put albums out in their name, but somehow it’s not universal. We take pride in creative arts and efforts, but somehow not in educational ones.
Often the push is towards a bland utilitarian sameness in what we produce, rather than pride and an flourish. Why don’t we sign the work we put out? In corporate life, it seems somehow that we devalue the role of the individual, that a lot of our effort goes into homogenising and sterilising identity, to ironing out the things that are unique in favour of one compliant view of the world.
Somehow it feels that we value the rather abstract and formal language of business more than the personal and varied language of the poet or blogger. It’s odd how we subscribe to the cult of the personality, be it Ferrari, Steve Jobs or Sting, yet we don’t feel such affinity with the middle man: the people who actually produce everyday.
Some marketing tries to address this, telling me that the apples i bought yesterday were proudly grown by a man called John is Suffolk. Maybe this is part of a trend towards the more social, the more immediate, where we will see that this e-learning was produced by Alex, the guy who worked late on friday night to finish it.
It’s a small thing, but kind of important too: are we proud of what we do? Are you proud of what your team achieves, what deadlines you’ve hit, the quality of what you’ve done? We are happy to use this information and pride when we are selling things, on our own websites or LinkedIn pages, yet we rarely include credits in learning as we would in a film. Are we secretly ashamed of our work, or has it simply fallen into the bland landscape of corporate comms and we’ve overlooked it? Maybe it’s time to sign on the dotted line and put the pride back into learning design.