Titles That Bind

I'm fascinated with the idea of extreme organizational transformation, and I wonder what I would do if I could completely blow up the current model and totally re-invent the corporate workplace. I would focus on two primary areas: the physical environment and job titles. For example, perhaps the CEO and executive board would be on the first floor with the smallest offices and no view because they are seldom there to enjoy them.

My bone to pick with job titles is this ... they are labels that confine people's ability to add value wherever and whenever possible. Titles are the reason people say, "it's not my job" or "what do you know, you're just a (fill in the blank)." A friend related her experience when she switched from HR to Marketing. It was a difficult transition—she was confronted with constant resistance and found herself having to jump through extraordinary hoops to prove herself. Her new boss was obviously willing to "take the risk" on her, but everyone else on the team wondered, "What could you possibly know about marketing, you're an HR person?"

When you become defined by your title, you become limited in terms of what you can do, or what others believe you are capable of. It is because of this that I gave myself the title "Transformation Architect" when I joined the Tom Peters Company ... people have to ask, "What do you do?" My title stays the same, but my answer evolves over time, as I do.