Today’s modern business organizations have brought extraordinary advances to humanity in the last 2 centuries. None of these advances could have been possible without them. However, they brought many severe problems, too.
As the Dilbert cartoons express in an amplified way, the work life in these organizations has been a miserable and pointless activity for many. They have been playfields of unfulfilling pursuits of our egos. They have contributed on a massive scale to depleting natural resources and destroying ecosystems. Maximizing shareholder value has always been the primary concern, and all the rest has been secondary.
All these organizations share a common template – a common operating system. Where ever you go on earth, you can see similar practices of management and organizing. It is quite apparent that this operating model will hit us to a wall in the near future.
Is it possible to change this? Is it possible to create organizations, in which the work life is more meaningful and pleasant so that the people put more of their potential out? Is it possible to create organizations, which genuinely care their social and ecological impact?
When the evolution of humanity is analyzed, it can easily be observed that we have gone through several developmental stages. At each stage, we made a leap in our abilities – not only technically but also cognitively and socially. Every time humanity has shifted to a new stage, it has built new social paradigms and in parallel has invented new ways to organize and collaborate.
The incumbent operating system of the organizations is a product of an obsolete stage. It is a mashup of military command system of pre-industrial period and mechanistic control system of industrial period.
Having acknowledged inherent problems of this system, management world has deployed some modifications to finetune it and ease the pain. Hierarchies were flattened. Empowerment and motivation programs have been introduced. Environmental sustainability and social responsibility initiatives have been launched. Perhaps pain has been eased a little; but the root cause still survives in power.
We must change this operating system!