“There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different.”
– Alfred P. Sloan
“I am not belittling the brave pioneer men but the sunbonnet as well as the sombrero has helped to settle this glorious land of ours.”
– Edna Ferber
“At certain times in his life each man is tempted to become a Luddite, for there is always something he would like to go back to. But to be against all change against change in the abstract is folly.”
– James Albert Michener
Are you a Luddite, a settler or a pioneer (or possibly a saboteur) – read on to determine which career path best aligns to your personality (or the people you work with).
In France during its industrial revolution, workers did not like the changes that were happening in their work environment. New technology, textile machinery, was being introduced that they angrily believed would put them out of work or at least reduce their potential wages. Their response, throw their sabots (wooden shoes worn by French workers) into the machines to destroy them. Thus the word saboteur (one who sabotages, destroys property or obstructs normal operations).
In England during the early 19th century, Ned Ludd had a similar response to the introduction of new machinery to his work environment. His solution, destroy the new technology. Thus we have Luddite (an individual who opposes technological change). Settlers perform vital functions that every functioning organization needs to be successful. They establish, make things orderly, and stabilize.
Then there are the pioneers who originate or help open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development. Without pioneers, there would be minimal if any transformation in how things are done.
Take a moment and think about yourself or the people in your organization. Into which category do you/they fit? After you recognize the category, then what? What do you do as, or with the pioneers, who so often march to their own drumbeat? How should you support the settlers and balance their needs with those of the pioneers? What do you do with the Luddites, and how do you eliminate saboteurs? Your ability to understand yourself and handle the people in your organization correctly is a key to your ability to predict future success both in your organization and in your career.
There was a CEO of a major corporation was walking the CEO of another company through his organization. They passed one office where an executive had his feet on the desk, hands clasped behind his head, in an obvious daydreaming mode of operation. This was noted with some disdain by the visiting CEO. About 15 minutes later they again passed that office with the executive in the same position. The visiting CEO said to his host, “If that employee were working for me, I would fire him.
” The host CEO responded, “That executive came up with an idea a little while ago while sitting in that position, that resulted in a product that has brought in more than $100,000,000 in revenue to our company. He can sit that way as long as he wants!”
Are you an innovator who is creating new edges and finding new ways to create and expand. Are you a settler who ensures success by creating a safe, stabilized environment and organization. We love to help the Luddites have the light go on, that click moment when they understand the success and benefits available to them and those they work with. We especially love to have the saboteurs realize they have no chance of winning, and they better join in the game or leave.
Knowing what category you would place yourself in, and those your organization, is vital to determining the right career choice to make, and the path to follow.