Don’t be a people business. Be a business of individuals.

Treat your team as individuals, rather than your company as a “people business”.

I’ve been rereading two books by Oliver Sacks, “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”. Both are wonderful books, as enjoyable in the second reading as they were when I read them first over 2 decades ago.

I’m struck by what Sacks, following the lead of one of his mentors in neuropsychology, Alexander Luria, terms “romantic science”. Not romance in the sense of love, but harking back to the tradition of the romantic poets and artists and enriching his science with a detailed and highly sensitive description of individuals and their humanity.

It makes me think that we should be striving for romantic business. Not ones with lewdness by the photocopier at a work Christmas party. No, ones where businesses are enriched by an explicit and intentional recognition of the humanity of the individuals who are working in it. Real, individual, identifiable people. Not a “people business” in terms of processes and policies to support employees, but one that actually draws on the personalities and stories of the individuals that work within it.

That’s the business I’d want to build. Thank you Mr Sacks.

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