Artifacts – tell tale signs

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At times, what do you hold in your hand that offers you comfort and meaning? I teach an introductory course in organizational behaivour and the last lecture for the class was about organizational culture. Organizations have visible artifacts. All you have to do is to walk into a store, coffee shop, bank or business and you see visible signs that define what that company is. In my class, I asked what people recognize about the difference between Air Canada and WestJet. Both companies are Canada’s airline; however they are very different. Most people in class could not really think what set them apart because they never really noticed and they are more observant of the price point of tickets. Both of these airlines are quite different in how they are organized and operated. Not speaking about which is better but rather how they are different. Next time when you walk into a business, take a moment to just look around. What colours do they have? What are some of the defining ways they have designed the space? What about the people working there, what about the way they dress…what does that say?

Now that we have focused on the organization, how about you? Artifacts hold your personal story. What artifacts define you? For me, there are things like the alumni pin that I wear from Simon Fraser University. In a previous post I talked about how I graduated from SFU and I wound up being a janitor and the alumni pin was put away for a later date till I came back to SFU and a reminder of my academic roots and to help students so they don’t go through what I went through. I also wear a religious symbol on my right hand which is a Kara. This is a steel bracelet and while I am not too religious, it is a reminder to me of my ancestral roots. There are many artifacts that I hold on to that define who I am.

What things can you think of that holds purpose and meaning for you? There are things that you have had given to you or that you have found and attach a memory to it that captures its importance. I have given hundreds of puzzle pieces to people and they now hold these as a reminder of our connectedness. I explained this to my students and gave them the pieces to hold on to. There are likely many artifacts around that just need to be recognized. When was the last time you gave someone something that held purpose and meaning? You don’t always have to be the recipient of an artifact. You can also provide it to others so they share in the significance. What ever it is, find it, keep it and capture the memory for the future.

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