Where have all the Evangelists gone?

As a joiner, I usually find myself among people that share my likes and dislikes. It’s easy to love Apple products, right? They are gorgeously-designed, they work like they’re supposed to, and they come with a whole tribe of people that will fight tooth and nail for the belief that Apple products are better.

Tim Cook waving at WWDC attendees

I’ve had a much harder time finding this kind of fanatic loyalty at companies that I work for and with. I’ve made a career out of enhancing the design, user-experience and culture at small- to medium-sized companies (my sweet spot is between 85 and 500 employees). I seem to run into a consistent personality that makes up a good-sized chunk of the work force at these organizations.

The type of team member I’m talking about isn’t a bad employee — don’t get me wrong. These people are the core of a healthy organization. They challenge thinking at times, they are the actual do-ers of work, and they do a great job. They aren’t going anywhere and I’m not saying they should.

They just don’t elevate the level of play. They do the minimum and go home at the end of the day…

My question is, where are the people at smaller companies that are willing to fight for the best in their organization? Where is the person that breaks rules because it’s the only way to ensure that a project launches on time? Where is the person that pushes back on management over and over (and over) again until a piece of software that will make their department work better is implemented? What happened to the dreamers in the business world? Did they fall away with the death of Steve Jobs?

Sometimes a fight is just what your organization needs

Maybe I’ve just worked in smaller markets so I haven’t seen the best and the brightest get excited for their company. I have a feeling, though, that more often than not, the best 10% of employees in companies across the globe are jumping from place to place until they realize that they are a wonderfully competent minority — and leave to start their own company.

That cycle then repeats itself when the aspiring leader starts hiring their own work force.

I do know that the best and the brightest exist. They are writing posts on linkedin and medium every week (a la Josh Elman). They are inspiring action in the team members around them or those that work for them. They are spurring the growth of their organizations. I just don’t know where they exist in companies that aren’t on the Fortune 500 list.

If you’re quietly killing it at your company — and your company is a small or medium sized one, please reach out in the comments. I’d love to write some follow-ups to this article with your stories.