People Work Here

For me two relatively recent documentaries stand out as tipping points on social change. I believe that they have altered how many of us see our relationship with the world around us, and the actions we take on a daily basis. They ushered in not just a new consciousness, but widespread movements for new standards, choices, and behaviors. We are changing our mental models for today and the future.

The first is An Inconvenient Truth. This story helped punctuate the reality that the earth was not an infinite constellation of resources to be consumed, but an ecosystem that requires our care taking and grasp of interdependency to change. The meaning of green and sustainability have gone far beyond marketing slogans – they are new standards for the way we live our lives.

The second is Waiting for Superman. While this documentary doesn’t have the benefit of being sponsored by a former U.S. Vice President, it is equally gut wrenching in terms of the need to take a stand on our failing education system and in making a call to action that everyone must participate in. When 60 percent of our urban youth are not graduating high school, we set the stage for something potentially more immediate and devastating than global warming.

The third documentary could carry a number of titles, but let’s try this one on for size: Human Beings Work Here! Or do they? At a time when everyone’s standard of living is under attack, where creativity and strategic innovation are falling short of our expectations, and change is not a program, but a way of life, most people are not showing up at work engaged in what they do.

The sobering statistics are unchanged, in that 70% of people are not actively engaged at work, 60 to 90% of company strategies are not executed, and stunningly even 52% of senior leaders don’t believe in the strategies that they helped co-author. People are engaged in their personal lives, but clearly something very different happens at work. The vast waste of human talent, organizational capabilities, and corporate assets is nothing short of a crisis for companies and a critical call for changing the way we work together, at work.

Here are three initial mindset shifts that would be some of the driving themes in the “Third Documentary”:

  1. Shift the concept of strategy execution through people from a communication activity to a standing business process owned by senior leaders.
  2. Shift the leadership perspective from employees not getting it, to seeing employees as customers of an organizational strategy where curiosity about what they understand and how they best contribute is a higher priority than what we want them to do.
  3. Shift the overall thinking on strategy execution from sharing the why’s and what’s to seeing it as similar to rearing a child, where capabilities are built and nurtured over time.

It is time to alter how we see our relationship with the world of work and usher in a new mindset leading to a different way to envision our culture and behave on a daily basis.

September 26, 2012


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