Carmen A. Medina (@milouness) got me thinking about this, when she posted an interesting question on Twitter:
Why exactly do we tolerate nation-state system running on rules and culture norms that would bankrupt any modern organization?
This prompted a counter-thought:
Why exactly do we tolerate traditional management with rules and norms that are driving the Fortune 500 into decline, when their problems are so well-known.
Indy Johar jumped in to suggest that governments and businesses are different:
The two are fundamentally different entities. And it’s worth remembering that most modern organisations are built on principles that will bankrupt most people & natural resources- not a model I would like states to follow! The point for me is that we cannot benchmark a state against "modern" organizations.
I agree that governments and businesses are different in some respects. But in other respects they are the same. For instance, they both suffer from the same terminal disaease: hierarchical bureaucracy.
“Management was originally invented,” management theorist Gary Hamel has noted, “to solve two problems: the first—getting semiskilled employees to perform repetitive activities competently, diligently, and efficiently; the second—coordinating those efforts in ways that enabled complex goods and services to be produced in large quantities. In a nutshell, the problems were efficiency and scale, and the solution was bureaucracy, with its hierarchical structure, cascading goals, precise role definitions, and elaborate rules and procedures.” (“Moonshots for Management” Feb. 2009, p. 92.)
84% vote for change
I reported on Tuesday the shocking statistic that 84% of workers in the US plan to change jobs in 2011. This figure shows the depth of the frustration in the workplace today. It also shows the futility of changing jobs: when most of the jobs suck, changing jobs won't do anyone much good.
Yet there is some good news in that 84% figure: 84% of people want change. That's a pretty large, silent majority in favor of change.
Our challenge is to connect with those people, and with the managers who are in charge of workplaces that have created the 84% figure and show them that there is another way that leads simultaneously to high productivity, continuous innovation, deep job satisfaction and client delight.
To find out more about organizations that are being run differently, read my synthesis of recent books that are revolutionizing the world of work, or read my book, The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century.