Friday, December 02, 2005

How do we get to a new system?

How do we go from A to B? How do we go from a dictatorship system to a free system? The problem is, even if we know that a dictatorship system is what we have at work, that's what will continue until we have a new (free) system in place. By default, that's what will happen. You can't get from A to B, if B doesn't yet exist.

So we need to start thinking about what a new system will look like, and what we can do to get there.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Why elected leaders are like new fangled aircraft

I attended an airshow in Farnborough (near London) some time ago, and there was a mock cockpit of one of these new generation aircraft on display. As I waited in line for my turn to enter the cockpit, I overheard the conversation of a couple of elderly men and a boy walking past, after they had taken a look.

One of them said to the other, "It's like being in a video game. I just can't relate to it. Remember all the dial and knobs in our days!" The other responded, "That's so true....but did you notice my grandson here...he just hopped into the cockpit and looked at home immediately! It's obviously because of all the video games he's playing!."

The point is, one reason that we don't imbibe the concept of having elected leaders at work is that our generation (anyone who's already in the workforce) hasn't had exposure to it. Hence, like the older pilots, we don't know what it looks like and feels like. So we're very uncomfortable with it. Once we introduce the concept of genuine leadership at the workplace, we may continue to feel uncomfortable, but the next generation will take to it the same way the grandson took to the 'video-game' cockpit.

(Please email me your comments at

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What to do about bad bosses - right now?

I received an email from someone who has a terrible boss, and asked what we could do about it. Unfortunately, the way organizations are, change still has to be enforced from the top. Once the people at the top decide to go ahead with changing their organizations, it's only then that things can happen. Otherwise, we will have to use the traditional (and more expensive) route: revolution.

Revolution might sound like an inappropriate word to use in the context of the workplace, but this will be the only alternative - once there is a huge amount of pressure from the bottom (and I'm not talking blood pressure!) on senior management for change, only then will they feel pressurised to do something. So it's up to underlings (as Dilbert would say) to start creating that pressure. This doesn't have to be difficult - it could simply be introduced to workplace conversations - once this effect snowballs, things will start happening. So what can you do right now? Simply start talking about the issue. Not aggressively, not accusingly, but simply as a better way of doing things.

(Please email me your comments at

Monday, November 14, 2005

Brazil's Semco

Thomas Eyde writes from Norway:

"I find it odd when you speak of democratic workplaces, you fail tomention SemCo and Ricardo Semler. There you have a workplace which really proves you right. Not only is SemCo successful, but it was also successful during one of Brazils greatest recessions."

Thomas - thanks for pointing this out.

(Please email me your comments at

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Why be flat, when you can be free?

Memo to organizations:

Why be flat, when you can be free?

The era of flat organizations will draw to a close. The era of free organizations will dawn.

Why? Either you survive, or you die. If you die, there's nothing to be said. How will the ones that survive, survive? As Darwin said, only those species that respond to change can survive. The only way to survive is to be supremely adaptive to change.

The pace of change is manic in a world that's getting increasing more complex. How do we survive in this scenario? Best to look at nature for guidance. There's nothing more complex than nature. How does nature deal with it? I'll talk about this in my next post.

The big question

As Shakespeare might have put it, To be flat or not to be flat?

Most organizations respond with: To be flat.

Then they boast about it to potential employees. But the question is not of flatness, because even flat organizations are fear-based given that they are run by dictators-by-definition.

The big question is, "To be free or not to be free?"

We know the answer we want, but are companies willing to turn themselves into genuinely free organizations?

This means having real leaders - leaders who have been elected.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Democratic capitalism

Dave Bayless has written a great post on democratic capitalism, and I quote: "Two hundred years ago, mercantilists' financial capital supplanted natural capital (i.e., land) as the key resource in the advanced economies of the world. Today, there is reason to believe that human, intellectual capital is ascendant. Might it be possible that knowledge workers who possess and control strategic know how will demand - and will be able to achieve - a meaningful role in business decision making? Will there come a day when Steve Jobs is elected (and fired) by the people who both invest in, and work for, the company?"

Take the time to read Dave's full post:

Bullying bosses - news report

The BBC reports that two million people face bullying at the workplace - and that most of the bullying is done by bosses. Senior managers are the worst perpetrators - not surprising given that they have the most power in the organization. So now, the British government is spending a million pounds on an anti-bullying campaign. (Read Two million face 'work bullying'.)

My prediction - this may work in the short term, but in the longer term, things are going to remain the same because for lasting change, the system needs to change.

(Please email me your comments at

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

ChangeThis manifesto corrections

If you've seen my manifesto on ChangeThis, note that some minor errors have appeared:

Page 5 (under “The Hidden Factor That Influences Our Behavior): First line – “Is it our genes, our background or something else?” It should read: “Is it our genes, our background or also something else?”

Page 12, para 4, first line: This should read: “No one tells people in dictatorships that because they don’t have the right to vote, they should behave fearfully.”

Page 39, 2nd para (“Definition given by the late….”): This should be end-note ‘A’ on page 40.

Page 40: End-note ‘A’ (“Will this new system be perfect.....process”) should be last para on page 35.

If you want to read my manifesto, please go to

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

ChangeThis Manifesto

This blog serves as a place to discuss the ideas in my ChangeThis manifesto. Please email me your comments at