The rebirth of craftmanship

In a turbulent world dominated by technology and automation, the concept of craftsmanship may seem like a relic of the past. However, Richard Sennett’s groundbreaking book The Craftsman from 2008 remains a vital, highly-relevant reminder that the pursuit of excellence and the development of skills are as relevant today as they ever were.

Sennett explains how the principles of craftsmanship offer valuable lessons to individuals, businesses and institutions. Craftsmanship is more than just mastering a craft; it’s a mindset and approach that emphasizes the importance of learning, practice and dedication. There are several takeaways. The first is that craftsmanship is rooted in the joy of mastery. In a world driven by quick fixes and instant gratification, there’s immense satisfaction in honing one’s skills over time. Leaders should seek opportunities to develop and refine their abilities, understanding that the journey of mastery itself is rewarding.

The second is the value of practice. In an era when people seek life hacks, Sennett encourages us to appreciate the significance of continuous, deliberate practice. The commitment to improvement can foster innovation, quality and resilience.

The third takeaway is to embrace mistakes. Embracing errors, analyzing and learning from them can lead to remarkable improvements. This mindset shift can benefit organizations by promoting a culture of innovation. 

Fourth, focus on the role of community. Craftsmanship isn’t solitary; it often involves a community of practitioners. Sennett emphasizes the value of collaboration, knowledge-sharing and mentorship. Businesses can gain from fostering a collaborative environment.

The fifth insight is the value of long-term thinking. In a world where short-term gains often overshadow long-term benefits, craftsmanship encourages us to think beyond immediate results and invest in sustained excellence. Sennett’s work reminds us that craftsmanship is not a relic of the past, but a timeless philosophy that can shape a brighter future. 

Perry Timms is founder and chief energy officer of PTHR, a consultancy aiming to create better business for a better world. He is a TEDx speaker, top-selling author, and number one on HR Magazine’s 2022 Most Influential Thinkers list.