In case you hadn’t noticed life has changed but some organisations haven’t yet caught up and I am becoming more and more intrigued by why this is the case. Because from what I have seen our behaviour has changed in many areas of our lives and whilst our approach and attitude to work hasn’t yet been as impacted as some other areas I believe it won’t be long.
Let me explain myself. I met colleagues I used to work with for lunch today and pretty much everyone had done Christmas shopping on line. One person had completed 100% of their purchases without stepping into a single shop. You see the reputation of the retailer or the ability to know the staff or having previous experience buying from them is no longer a priority for us. We no longer care how companies are structured, or how they operate – we only care about trusting them to do what they promise. We don’t want to waste our time going somewhere to only find the things we want are not in stock – we can do it much my effectively online. We want to save ourselves time and hassle and we are more than happy to take risks doing it. When a service provider offers you next day delivery and they meet that promise with no extra charge we eagerly place that order without even knowing how they are going to meet their commitment. We don’t know them but we trust them.
We may feel somewhat uncomfortable with some elements of what we are doing. Who IS working on minimum wage in massive warehouses to fill these orders? How many people are on zero hour contracts to drive around all day during this busy period to make deliveries but then can’t get any work at all during other periods of the year? Is it really OK for people to be forced to work on a Bank Holiday or be told they won’t have a job? What happens to all this extra packaging that now accompanies the home deliveries (why does one small gift need to be in such a large box!)? BUT none of these thoughts prevent the majority of people from changing their purchasing behaviour. They make the judgement based on their time, their needs, and their money and make their life as easy as possible. It’s a brutal world of Christmas shopping but it is a behaviour change that many of us have adopted.
Is it just this time of year? I don’t think so. We read online reviews to book our holidays, choose which films to go and watch, which music to buy – we trust complete strangers now to give us feedback on somewhere we have never been. We buy second hand goods from people we don’t even know where they are located based on little gold stars or scores out of 100. We trust those numbers without pausing for breath.
So with this new world we live in then surely where we work should also have changed. Surely we should work in organisations where job titles do not matter. Where there is no formal leadership because collaboration built on strong relationships and trust work every day and everything gets done. These are organisations where salaries and bonuses are transparent to everyone. Where bright people are given some support in how to work as a team, some simple tools to use and then just left to deliver. No oversight, no individual objectives, no massive change plans. Now you think I have clearly lost my mine. But stick with me on this.
From the people I interact with and from what I read and see it is clear that increasingly, employees and managers are disillusioned with the way we run organisations today believing there must be a better way to run our businesses. Employees are disengaged and not just those lower down in the organisation line but those in leadership positions too. People are looking for more. They are almost looking for the “meaning” in what THEY do. There may be a glorious mission or vision statement that is there to engage and inspire employees and to connect customers but it’s not enough anymore people are questioning themselves and their working lives.
I am confident you will hear more and more about these “self” organisations and you too can get excited by a whole new world (queue Disney music). If you really don’t believe me then go to YouTube and find Frédéric Laloux’s excellent talk on his book Reinventing Organizations – The emergence of a new management paradigm. You see we’ve changed. I’m not recommending you buy the book and read it. I’m suggesting you go and listen to a guy talk for nearly two hours on his book and let him convince you that it isn’t just what I said at the start that people are changing how they shop, eat, live but also how they work. You may think “not in my lifetime” but all I ask is that you reflect on how your life has changed over the past 2 years and compare that to the research and examples Frédéric gives and perhaps there will be a hint of delight in your mind that in your life time you may actually witness something rather revolutionary.
Wishing you are a restful period with family and friends and a healthy and happy 2016.