Saturday, January 10, 2009

What Are the 3 Biggest Obstacles to Democratizing the World's Workplaces?

Traci Fenton speaks at least weekly with CEOs of companies that will potentially use her consulting services to democratize their organizations. In a conversation I had with Traci Fenton (CEO of WorldBlu), she identified the three biggest obstacles to democratizing the workplaces of the world:

(1) Many people do not realize that there is a better alternative to oligarchical businesses.

(2) Many people are not willing to give up the feeling of control over their businesses.

(3) Many people are, simply, greedy.

Sounds pretty overwhelming. We are seeing, however, that the biggest obstacles are not as big as the biggest drivers of democratizing the workplaces of the world. Here are the reasons:

(1) The people of the world are beginning to think less of themselves as national citizens and more of themselves as world citizens.

(2) The information age is democratizing even the most undemocratic nations of the world.

(3) Oligarchical companies are losing the most talented people to democratic companies (e.g., computer technology industry vs. banking industry).

(4) More and more people are realizing that the current capitalist system has not benefited the majority of the world; yet, communism is no longer a widely attractive alternative.

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How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.