The unavoidable transition from organizations based on survival and control to organizations based
on personal greatness.
It has been for a while now that seismic waves have been rocking the organizational world. When a critical mass is reached, an earthquake will ensue and the full force of its power will be evident.
For decades, thousands of organizations have been established throughout the world whose aim was the fulfillment of the economic axiom "to maximize value for shareholders". This is an industrial age paradigm. To maximize profits with no other major consideration or responsibility, various methods have been developed in time that together created what will be referred here to as: "an organization based on survival and control".
These methods include:
· Focus on the bottom line
· The well-known "carrot and stick" methods
· Endless working hours
· Under –staffing
· Rising demands
· Imposition of regular changes
· Threat of redundancy
· Persecution of those who reveal corruption
· Organization politics based on survival, etc.
In the organizational world described above, the dominating elements are survival, fear and control. These are not talked about or mentioned, yet they are omnipresent. The motto is: "do what you are told to, fit in, or you will lose your income, or at the least your chances for promotion".
In this organizational world, many people work fourteen to sixteen hours a day because "this is the norm'. People are hooked up to their cellular phone and to the internet 24/7 because "this is what everyone does and I am expected to do so as well".
People often do not dare to say what is on their minds "since it will harm promotion". People suffer quietly from bad managers and incapable leaders because "he is my boss".
These phenomena are recorded in Kay Gilley’s excellent book: "The Alchemy of Fear"
Why are people willing to adhere to all those phenomena?
The answer can be found in the basic motives of security and tenure. Both motives were important for the previous generation, that of wars and survival and have been passed on to the next generation as part of its basic education. Sentences such as "learn a profession that will help you make a living", "it's important to find a good job", “nothing is more important than tenure" are not strange to any of us. It is hard to break the barrier of fears for survival, security and tenure. Based on these fears are many structures that were built informally and unknowingly by employers and employees.
It is apparent that in the stable world of organizations and employment, a world that is been based on control and "reward and punishment", there are cracks that are growing.
Firstly, the psychological contract of tenure in work between employer and employee has collapsed. Millions of people are being made redundant, thrown out or placed elsewhere in the framework of reductions, changes, mergers, and takeovers. Secondly, independent, talented workers find themselves trapped in the above described organizations.
After suffering the feeling of being trapped for years, some of these employees muster up courage and break out from the organization, becoming self-employed. Some of them even continue their previous work within the company as freelancers or being used in outsourcing.
Entire groups of "knowledge workers" whose main assets are knowledge, ability to think, or creativity, are not willing to take orders from mediocre managers who have been put in charge of them. More and more people want to be involved, to have influence, to take responsibility for their future and most importantly to fulfill their potential and use their talents. In addition, parents, fed up of being allowed once a week to leave the organization earlier (meaning 17.00-18.00), are looking for alternative solutions for employment. It is very typical for what is defined as "generation Y"
During workshops or lectures that I organize, I sometimes ask "out of all those attending, who fulfills their potential and talent in their present position to the extent?" Occasionally one or two hands are raised in groups of tens or hundreds of people.
Henry Ford had an immortal saying: "when you come to work in my factory, park your brain outside". This saying is no longer relevant in organizations whose workforce produces with the help of creative thinking.
These phenomena and others are the cause for a trend that is becoming more and more accepted whereby outstanding and excellent workers in many organizations are finding and developing independent employment frameworks or become freelancers.
In certain areas of the U.S.A., thirty percent of the work force has a freelancer status. In some western countries, it stands at about ten percent and this trend is growing.
If this is so, does the future hold the loss of key talent for organizations? Will these organizations be based mainly on outsourcing of excellent, talented individuals? What will happen to the survival of an organization that becomes mediocre and less than that? The answers to these questions will become clearer in the next few years.
Nevertheless, there are hardly any organizational models that are based on a structure different to the one of survival, control and fear. An alternative model may be an organizational structure based on the greatness of people and not on fear and their basic needs for existence. The model's foundation is excellence and personal development that are the focus of organizational activity.
It requires a flexible model that allows people to grow, to change and switch positions, to influence and to reach a higher level of contribution. The meaning is not a scheme for the development of managers but a whole paradigm shift to the Win-Win model according to which the aim of the organization is to create the optimal value for every stake holder (employees, managers, owners, customers, suppliers, community) most of the time.
This paradigm creates a dramatic change in self-perception, perception of the organization and of work. Until such models are developed, companies will suffer from more and from earthquakes. Each earthquake will be accompanied by the retirement from the organization of important talents. There will be increasing frustration in the organization when "the carrot and stick" method will no longer be sufficient.
Presently, the first organizations of the future based on personal development and advantage are emerging. These are usually small organizations, or autonomic divisions within larger ones, usually organized around future-bound leadership. These are the organizations of tomorrow