Time for the Craftsman again?

ERE introduced me a while ago to the four types of personality suited to differing phases of colonising new fields. These are the Craftsman, the Jungle Fighter, the Company Man and the Gamesman. The craftsmen are geeks, they know stuff but aren’t perhaps best with people. They value technical skill over people skills. The Jungle Fighters are the robber barons, taking the results of the craftsmen’s work and fighting turf wars to expand scale. The Company Men are the white collar workers of the 1970s t o 1980s, and the Gamesmen are the spivs and bansters Vince Cable is getting all uptight about – playing the system to their advantage.

I haven’t quite worked out what I am. The obvious one is Company Man, which is why I am somewhat of a fish out of water with the institutionalised sadism of modern performance management systems. I feel somewhat drawn towards the Craftsman approach, which if anything is even less well adapted to modern work.

The oldest culture, the craftsman culture, is hard to find. If you want to see the difference try to contrast and compare an popular science magazine of a hundred year ago, full of information and requiring a solid foundation to understand (if you can get your hands on old copies, get them!), and a present popular science magazines with it’s glossy pictures and prose written to entertain rather than inform.

Thet struck me too, recently. Google books has scanned back-issues of Poular Mechanics – take a look at one from 1950 and compared the content of one from 2005 and it is clear that the latter is much more consumer oriented whereas the former was for guys that made stuff and knew how to use tools. In PM’s defence, I did learn something from the how to use screws article which perhaps indicates I’m rather less than Craftsman in things mechanical 😉

One of the interesting things in Jacob’s analysis was that two of the forms are essentially parasitic. The Jungle Fighters tend to get ahead by destroying, and it appears that the Gamesmen do too, introducing fiendish complexity and benefiting from it, as perhaps we have recently found out in the field of banking and finance, hence Vince spitting bricks.

I don’t get on well in a work environment dominated by Gamesmen – all procedure and little rooms for creativity and substance. There’s probably not enough left of my working life to go through the next cycle, since the Gamesman is in the ascendant at the moment. If peak oil happens and enegy and resource crunches causes a shift down to more fundamental things then perhaps it will become the time of the Craftsman again.

That might suit me in some ways, though somehow I need to learn how to use my screws and building tools right, as electronics and software aren’t going to be tremendously useful skills in a post-peak oil world…