I’ve been in love with the Humans of New York (HONY) project ever since I discovered it a while ago. I’m always touched or amused or surprised by the great photos, but most of all by the personal stories and by how New Yorkers freely and openly share a bit about themselves and their experiences, often very personal tales of trials and tribulations.
Yesterday it occurred to me that it could be valuable to get inspired by this and mimic such a project inside our organizations, hence giving rise to Humans of the Enterprise, taking one further step into humanizing our companies by sharing our people in a, well, human way 🙂
But it also dawned on me how hard it is usually to get colleagues to “expose” themselves inside the boundaries, and on the platforms, of the company, be it sharing something about their past professional experience, their hobbies or even a real profile photo on the intranet or enterprise social network platform.
Part of the reason may be shyness. But I also think we are constrained by the experience and practices of past working generations where the norm would be to separate work and life and, as they say today, not bring their whole selves to work. In this sense, it may seem strange to openly share something of our “personal” side in the context of work.
I also believe that the specific norms inside an organization (aka, “this is how we do things here”), can help deter participation: the local HR department may not find the initiative worthy or may require that every participation must pass their approval, the bosses may not encourage their teams to participate and more.
Will that change some day? Are we increasingly feeling more comfortable with exposing our whole selves in a work context? I wonder…