Geo Week News

March 28, 2012

Corporate culture - are you a work horse or a show horse?


I am an unabashed fan of the AMC show Mad Men and I was very excited to see the show again last Sunday night after a 17-month hiatus. One of the things I most enjoy about the show is the work culture shown to be the norm in the advertising industry of the 1960s: Cruising into the office around 10 a.m., three martini lunches, and a midafternoon nap – I was definitely born 20 years too late! However, as the 1970s draw ever closer, the show is beginning to explore a divide in the company between “show horses” and “work horses.” For those unfamiliar with the concept, a show horse is the slick talking executive that all of the clients like. They always know what the client wants to hear and are more than happy to over-promise as long as they won’t have to bring the work to the table. Work horses are the executives pulling the load. An impartial accounting would show these employees to be the ones with the most profitable projects and clients and their time cards reflect this.

Get me a scan for this advertising campaign! Right now!

An interesting thing about working in the 3D imaging field is the immense diversity of the workplace cultures that many of us see. While we may all be using the same tools, the culture of our respective workplaces usually has more to do with the company’s origins than its current practices. Operating a laser scanner is a pretty typical practice; operating as a laser scanner specialist in an architecture firm is quite different from the work in a multimedia production group or an engineering firm or construction division or …

As many of you may have noticed from Sam Pfeifle’s piece last week, I am now working at SmartGeoMetrics, following their acquisition of the 3D Imaging division of GDM. SmartGeoMetrics is a division of SmartMultiMedia, which, as its name implies, is in the film and media production business. GDM was born as a land surveying shop. We were both doing the same work, but the cultures were quite different. Fortunately, it has been a good thing for me personally. After years of working mostly with people I trained, it is a lot of fun to see someone approach a problem from a very different point of view. However, I can see where some would have a problem with it. For those of you with a more “there is always one best way” mentality, well, let’s just say you might have to learn to agree to disagree!

This brings me to two points that I hope we in the 3D imaging business will take to heart: 

• First of all, don’t overlook your work horses. Their importance to the success of a firm cannot be overstated. Some industries are better than others when it comes to the democratization of credit and I hope ours can be one of the best. I think we have an excellent chance at that becoming a reality due to the very young nature of the sector.  

• Secondly, don’t let the cultural differences hinder progress. I have learned the most working with people from other countries and educational backgrounds. As an industry we are seated at the nexus point between a multitude of disparate industries. We can be gatekeepers or incredible repositories of information – if we can learn to listen long enough to take it all in.


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