It all started with a simple question: “What the hell is going on with the world?”
It wasn’t a small question that was easy to answer, but it was pretty simple.
When I looked at the world of work and the business market, I felt that something had changed. Something has changed. You probably noticed it too. Strategies that used to be tried and true now seemed far-fetched and false. Business models that were profitable just ten years ago were now crumbling. Yesterday’s “best practices” seemed outdated. I wanted to know why. More importantly, I wanted to know Prepare Your Organization For The Future:
If the old one didn’t work, then what?
So I started doing research. I have studied many companies, both small and large, old and new, in all industries and disciplines. I have researched everything from higher education to government agencies, from nonprofits to the private sector. I have visited small family businesses and large family businesses. I listened to the leaders of medium-sized organizations and dined with managers from Fortune 100 companies. I learned from the best researchers in the world and read literally hundreds of books, blogs and articles.
As I started to connect the dots, a few clear patterns emerged. It turned out that the companies that have achieved outstanding success in today’s unstable economy have always been doing something that fits into one of three large groups. (Yes, only three.) In other words, these organizations deliberately designed their environment in several different ways.
To truly thrive in the new world, a company’s actions must meet (at least) one of three things:
- Always Connected
- Distinctly human
These three words represent a set of “guiding principles” for the new world.
Table of Contents
Connected, Human and Meaningful
Be in touch is an acknowledgment that what I do affects you—or, as a group, what “we” do affects “them.” It is about promoting sustainability, both from an environmental and human perspective. It is also just making connections (between people, between groups, etc.).
Being human it’s all about treating people like real people. Humans are complex and unique beings with passions, emotions, strengths and stories. The work environment of the future captures this and amplifies it. Without this recognition, an organization will never be able to access the best and most innovative work that employees have to offer.
be significant helps people connect with something greater than they are. It’s about purpose and mission—and I don’t mean “statements.” Meaning is the driving force that fuels intrinsic motivation. It’s also worth noting that the minute you buy a smartphone, any separation between “work” and “life” disappears forever. This means that it is important that our work is meaningful and moving forward.
Let me give you some real world examples of organizations using these three categories (more examples can be found here):
CONNECTED: Pike Place Fish Market
In the world of fish markets, it is impossible to harm the habitat or deplete the population in any way by overfishing (because it is terribly difficult). Pike Place aims to be 100% sustainable in both of these areas. Solutions like these (and a few flying fish) have made this market world famous.
Offering new employees cash on the spot to quit, building all systems around good employees (not troublemakers), and insisting on constantly creating “fun and a little weirdness,” Zappos literally treats its call center employees like kings and queens. . This policy has allowed Zappos to rise remarkably quickly on Fortune magazine’s list of the best companies to work for.
By incorporating one-for-one gifts into its business model, the simple shoe company has inspired significant imitators worldwide and delivered over two million pairs of much-needed shoes to kids around the world. In fact, Blake Mycosky, the founder of TOMS, wrote an entire book to tell you that this significant core is the reason for their success.
Interestingly, the tribes I have studied do not deliberately organize themselves around these guidelines. They don’t realize that what they are doing fits neatly into one of these three big categories. But even if they don’t know it, what works for them invariably makes them Connected, Human, or Significant.
It’s also worth noting that no company I’ve studied uses all three principles…yet. This means that right now being Connected, Human and Meaningful is a huge competitive advantage. Accept them now and your organization will be at the forefront.
But I must warn you, this advantage will not last long.
Soon all organizations will adopt these methods – they will have no choice if they want to keep up with the times.
Our emerging culture requires a complete rethinking of business. We are looking for a new type of organization: one that can take a more holistic approach. We strive for work that connects us to each other, treats us as human beings, and gives us a greater sense of meaning.
When a tribe succeeds in an emerging economy, it is because it has found a way to implement at least one of these three guiding principles. They are intentionally connected, they are intentionally human, or they make life more meaningful.