My mentor, William Jenkins, a retired professional baseball player turned preacher and educator, once told me:
Most of what people do in this world has no witness. We’re all just winking in the dark, hoping somebody will make us feel seen.
Memory, then, is the highest form of respect. It’s a gift that we give each other. To remember is to bear witness, to bear witness is to notice, and to notice is to love.
Now, when it comes to modern organizational life, photography is the most relevant and simple example of this concept.
Sharing pictures of those small, daily workplace moments at your office, that stuff matters.
It’s more than another strategy for increasing followers on social media, growing your employer brand, optimizing search engine optimization, expanding industry exposure and recruiting and retaining top talent at your startup.
Business school jargon aside, photography is about witnessing each other. Making people feel seen. Creating artifacts that signal the collective spirit of the culture and symbolize why the environment is worth celebrating and joining.
Interestingly enough, many cultures in history have held the notion that taking a photograph of a person steals their soul. Some believe a photo is a blasphemous graven image, shows disrespect for the spiritual world, commits the sin of pride, imprisons the spirit and sucks the life force out of their body.
There’s even the famous news story about holy man who tried to sue a photographer for millions of dollars for snapping his photo without consent.
Nevertheless, here at Metric we enjoy capturing these moments. Both individually and collectively, we don’t believe photography steals our soul. We believe it celebrates and expands it.
Is your startup sensitive to people’s visibility needs?
Are you giving your team the priceless gift of memory?
If not, here’s how you might be able to create more witnessing within your organization.
First, create a moment. Go out of your way and bother to bother doing something that requires attention and intention. Even if it doesn’t require much labor, time or money.
Next, create an artifact. Use your powers of documentation to capture, organize and render those moments in formats that are easy to share.
And finally, package, publish and amplify those moments back out into the world, in whatever medium seems appropriate.
If your company is not used to making this a regular practice, creating artifacts might feel tedious, time consuming, and unrelated to overall company profitability or cost.
Which is totally understandable.
But know this.
If people on your team feel like they’re winking in the dark, they might seek the light elsewhere.
How many pictures have you taken of your team this week?