We could be utterly passionate or utterly considerate, but the middle ground is where we want to be.
This principle is so beneficial to us that it's become one of our company values, and we communicate it as:
"We care about our craft, each other and the world. We want to change things for the better, and strive to put people and our ethical beliefs at the heart of everything we do."
As a team, we wrote all of our company values to strike a balance between two personality attributes. On the one hand, we have 'Consideration', defined as: "thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others". On the other hand, we have 'Passion' defined as: "intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction".
Our value 'Considerately Passionate' reflects our desire to be both thoughtful and driven.
To understand this principle fully, we have defined four areas in which we can apply it:
Imagining the extremes is how we understand how to apply 'considerately passionate' to our characters.
All passion - If you were all passion, you could become an absolute expert in your field — the very best and most knowledgeable in a specific subject. But without consideration, you'd be impossible to work alongside. Your way of thinking would blind you to seeing or understanding other people's thinking. I'm sure we can all think of a few people like this... Brilliant but challenging to work with.
All consideration - The opposite extreme is to have all of the consideration but none of the passion. You'd be much much more pleasant to work with, but over time your low output and poor knowledge would frustrate those around you. This is that person whom you liked but "just wanted a little more out of".
What we want to be is somewhere in the middle. Brilliant, but great to work with. The kind of person that knows when to champion their field and when to be a team player. After all, it's scarce somebody will value a product against our individual efforts. We can design the best icon, write the best block of code, but it's the whole team's output that will be reviewed by our users, not our personal contributions.
An excellent habit for our work is to apply our most passionate endeavours in the most considerate ways we can.
For example, as designers at Brightec, we love creating illustrations and animations. They can be such a useful tool for lifting a product's UI, and they are usually the flourishes that our users love. These are our passion.
But, it would be unreasonable to add illustrations or animations to every screen and every interaction. Even if time and budgets allowed, given completely free reign we'd probably be in danger of going too far and adding too much.
The question then is when to add illustrations and animations. We answer it with this principle; Instead of adding beautiful illustrations to a screen that every user will see, we prioritise error states that only a few users will see. We want to pour our passion into the moments when a user will be most frustrated. That's when our users deserve our extra effort.
As an agency, it's easy to fall away from being 'Considerately Passionate' in our interactions with our clients.
In a similar way to how we want to apply this principle to our personalities, we need to use it in our client relationships. There are a few key areas where this can play out:
Meetings vs Work – We have great relationships with our clients and enjoy spending time with them. But too many meetings or too much time in meetings means less time for us working. Again, this is where we want to hit a healthy balance. Balancing maintaining relationships and being available (considerate) versus allowing ourselves the time and focus to work (passionate).
Reporting - Reporting takes time and effort. If we were all passion, we'd never give our clients project reports and expect them to wait until we're done to hear from us. The reality though is that we need to be considerate towards the person with whom we are working. 90% of the time our client contact needs to be giving regular reports to sponsors or senior management on the progress of their project. It is possible to provide too much reporting. Still, our primary obligation is to be considerate and make sure we are providing what is helpful.
Scope - The big one! Knowing when to fight our corner and when to let a client have their wishes is massive. Our clients are always having new feature ideas, which is excellent! There are those we agree with and others we don't, and sometimes vehemently don't! If we dismissed every idea we weren't entirely on board with or worse disregarded anything we hadn't come up with, we would miss out on so much. We should listen well, consider our clients' ideas and then respond.
The best teams consist of a range of people. And that counts for the range of considerate vs passionate. Most people naturally sit towards one end of the scale or the other.
Reading this, you could mistakenly think I expect every individual within a team to be a perfect balance of consideration vs passion. In reality, I'm aiming for the team to be well balanced.
A group of people that are fully compliant and unwilling to rock the boat would quickly make huge mistakes. They won't speak up even when they know something is wrong or the group won't take a better approach. On the other hand, a team of individuals that are completely transfixed by their expertise and agenda won't get on and will fall apart rapidly.
To perform effectively over the long-term, we need teams made up of people that can collaborate and provoke.
Treading the fine line of consideration vs passion isn't easy. And there isn't a playbook for every scenario we will encounter. Instead, we need to be mindful the paradigm even exists and not just default back to our status quo or preferred way of doing things.
(This post is part of a series exploring the principles that have helped shape the creative teams I have worked with, as well as myself. Click here to read them all.)
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