September 17, 2004
Excerpts: Everything You Need to Know About Strategy - Part XIV
Maybe "We care" didn't matter so much in the days of traditional industrial enterprise. Perhaps the old boss's mantra was more like "Show up. Shut up. Or starve." But now I think it's fair to say, morality aside, "We care" is ... Not Optional.
A researcher at Nomura Securities' Nomura Research Institute said we've been through the Age of Agriculture and the Industrial Age. We're in the Age of Information Intensification, but on the horizon is the next (last?) stage: the Age of Creation Intensification.
I'd agree. And ... the point ... an Age of Creation Intensification is as far away as one can imagine from "Show up. Shut up. Or starve." In an Age of Creation Intensification the boss's mantra (is he a boss?) is more like: "Help! Please help! Please commit your heart and soul and imagination to inventing clever and wonderful services-solutions-experiences-dreams come true. Join with me in inventing an Adventure, a Quest worth your time and my time and our clients' time and money." ("Boss-as-beggar-supplicant-before-the-alter-of-Talent" rather than "boss-as-drill-sergeant" comes to mind as an appropriate image.)
Do I paint an unrealistic picture? In a word ... no! Technology and globalization in all of their manifestations put organizational models and career models and leadership models up for grabs. (Media guru Marshall McLuhan once said, "If it works, it's obsolete." Soooo true of organizational arrangements, circa 2004.) The current winners I described above (UPS, IBM, and Omnicom in business "services," for instance) are forging completely new paths to an unknown and unknowable future. They will only progress if there is True Partnership among all parties to the enterprise workers (Talent!!), Best Sourcing alliances, Cool & Pushy Clients, and the remaining minimalist superstructure. And such a True Partnership demands as a price of entry (a minimal reason for Seriously Cool Talent to "sign up"): Unstinting Integrity, Total Transparency, Passion-on-our-sleeves, and Spirit to burn (remember Steve Jobs: "Let's make a dent in the universe). Once more, I remind: I'm not suggesting the above because I think it's "cool" or "right" or "good." I'm "suggesting" (demanding!) such an approach because there's not much likelihood that you can do otherwise and survive in a truly global, technology-rich, ambiguity-laden "age of creation intensification."
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.