Inside Outsider

12. What’s not working and why don’t we care?

Change our Focus?

I had a stimulating discussion with the members of the Bold New Breed community. The people in this discussion are from different geographies (Denmark, France, Spain, UK and USA), of different ages (just guessing!) and from different industries, past and present.

This article is part 1 What’s not working and why don’t we care? This was only part of the discussion and I will publish the second part shortly.

The texts below are comments made during the discussion, edited for clarity and brevity, and organized by myself into themes.

People don’t care about the future

Finite planet, finite people. How do we want to live in the next 30, 50, or a hundred years? The way we’re acting today, we’re not going to survive beyond a decade, but people don’t care.

And we should ask ourselves why people don’t care. What kind of narratives have they been exposed to or have they bought into over the last decades?

Before the pandemic, we were living sh…y lives. Now that we have improved them we see it. We were living sh…y lives because we were not spending enough time with our family relatives, friends and local communities.

Why? Because we were told that that was not healthy, that you were lucky that you had a job. You were told that you needed to do whatever it took to keep that job just so you could continue making a living.

Models do not work for organizations

You need to decide on a case-by-case scenario. We need to understand who are as an organization and what the best way is for us to organize.

Small micro enterprises is a model that is often recommended. An example is the RenDanHeYi. You can even get a certificate in it. That is the kiss of death. It means you can’t actually construct a business or an entity which works at the size that it needs to do to be effective. It’s got to be at this size because that’s how the model works.

We forget that every problem is unique and needs original thinking. For example, in some cases, to actually function effectively you need large infrastructure. Breaking that down into little groups is not going to be effective. However, what you can do is talk to the groups who work there and, find ways to empower them to actually do their job better. That often means taking layers of bureaucracy away.

Excessive focus on shareholders

Shareholder value drives many corporate leaders in their decision-making. They have been able to hang on to their inflated salaries and their positions so well thanks to this.

We need to be focusing on stakeholder value: employees, community, suppliers and the environment. Here’s an article I wrote for the Peter Drucker forum summarizing a lively workshop on this very topic: Employee power in turbulent times: why now and how.

People say that there’s no money. That’s false. There is money. It’s just in the wrong hands.

A good example is Denmark where people have a choice over how they want money that has been invested for their pensions to be spent. They can choose different degrees of investment in “green” organizations.

Too much noise about leadership

When Web 2.0 came on board, it was all about that personal agency. It was about you, your thoughts, your ideas, your values, principles, experiences, and everything else. And I think we have lost a lot of that.

There’s too much focus on leaders and leadership. If you look at the business books coming out right now, they tend to focus on how leadership has to be different and so on and so on.

If a small fraction of that were applied in actions, we’d have a completely different leadership from what we have. So all of what has been said about leadership right now is all noise because no one is paying attention to it.

Leadership should be more practitioner led. We are not doing enough in terms of enabling personal agency. When we’re talking about organizations, we are really talking about employees–the people without whom the organization will not exist.

Wrap up and questions

So we have looked at weaknesses in our work world of today: our lack of focus on the future, an over focus on models, an unbalanced focus on shareholders.

Can leadership fix this?  Not if the past is any indication.

There is so much written and communicated about leadership, that somehow we are all missing the boat. Even the leaders!

 My question: What should we be focusing on?

What are your takeaways? What have you experienced that you can share with us? Please share in the comments below, or directly with me via Twitter @netjmc, on Mastodon or my website at https://www.netjmc.com/contact/