Deconstructing business as usual
The introvert/extrovert debate centers around the high-stakes question of how businesses should be structured. The assertion of many writers is it’s an extrovert’s world, and introverts are struggling in biased conditions in their workplaces and the culture at large.
I absolutely disagree. Standard business practices don’t favor any of us.
Yes, innovative organizations can — and do — drive change through innovation.
I also concede that individual leaders entrenched in even toxic corporate cultures can powerfully motivate and empower their employees.
Those companies are the exception.
Instead, this is the culture we experience in most companies.
- They are de-motivating! Here’s a video by RSA Animate and Dan Pink on motivation that does an excellent job explaining a typically structured corporate culture fails to motivate its employees.
- Little accountability. CYA (covering your ass) is modus operandi.
- Endless meetings that result in few decisions. Check out this enlightening (and funny!) presentation by John Cleese on creativity…and how you can stamp it out.
- Competing or undefined priorities. How many of you report to more than one boss, or are told your company values one thing…but then does something else entirely?
- Procedures that stamp out creativity in favor of conformity and efficiency.
- Long work hours that all-but guarantee bad decision-making. Read this excellent article by Sara Robinson on the how working more than 40 hours is unproductive, harmful and actually hurts profits.
- Low prioritization on training. Have you seen all the articles on how businesses are freaking out about how they’re going to transfer knowledge to the next generation of leaders? It’s a problem; one they’re talking about…and effectively ignoring. Instead of training, CEos are focused on squeezing all the revenue-generating work out of their employees as possible.
I will restrain myself from going crazy with more bullet points. My point is this: these conditions don’t bring out the best of anyone. Introverts, extroverts, copywriters, accountants, Type A’s, B’s and C’s. We’re all being told to suck it up and be happy you have a paycheck.
This is ultimately why I couldn’t last in corporate America. I had the skills. I just didn’t have the right attitude.
All this leads us to a big bear of a question.
I only provided a few links among a huge body of work that reveals all these problems — and more. These conditions aren’t a secret. It shouldn’t surprise anyone there’s a breakdown somewhere.
Why, then, are businesses still run this way?
Fear of losing market share to overseas competitors, start-ups and the company down the street.
Fear that someone will learn the secret formula, copy the big idea, steal the customers.
All this fear leads us into the second downfall of most organizations.
The powerful are invested in maintaining the status quo, because the past represents the happy time when they first came into power.
How is this good for anyone?
This is why I love Mad Men so much, because the show exposes the darker underpinnings of the 60’s at a time when the style of the decade is back in our homes. Beauty and realism at its very best.
The good news is we don’t have to go backwards.
When I started working online with creative micro-businesses, I started to see another model.
A model based on optimism.
By optimism, I mean the “crazy” idea that your big thing can work if you give it your all. The belief that you can make a living and create change, all without selling your soul.
I don’t buy into the law of attraction, and I’ve never lived my life according to blind faith. I do, however, put my faith in people with big ideas and the will to follow them through.
A model not bound by a single operating procedure.
All over the world, individuals and small organizations are creating new models to share our work and serve our people. We aren’t complaining about the changing economy, we’re finding opportunity through every shift.
It’s an idealistic group with the work ethic to make change happen.
And I’m proud to be a part of it.
We reject the you vs. me economy and the winner-takes-all competitive model. Profit is important (hell yeah it is!), but never at the expense of our humanity.
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We’re not going back. We know it’s better up ahead, and we’re making it happen.