Friday, August 20, 2010

What's Next?

Let's think about creativity.

I have a quote from the CEO of HugeCorp, which says (I paraphrase) "On a good day we may hit 10% efficiency."

I put that on the wall of my cubicle back in the old days.

Because it resonated. With me. And with a few sharp people. Who got the point.

But no one who needed to see it did see it. And they would have missed the point. Wouldn't have cared either.

They would have been surprised though. At a large company being inefficient. Without a clue that they were in a worse organization, one that could never even approach 10%.

Because to them large meant successful and good and safe. Having rules and following rules was good. Obeying orders was good. Thinking was not.

The watchwords were
  • We've always done it this way
  • Wait
  • If it ain't broke don't fix it.
The whole concept of cluefulness was beyond understanding.

After all, what was the point? Work not done today would be there tomorrow, and so would the office, and the paycheck, and the routine.

I'm lucky to have been there and to have suffered. Because now I know. How bad it can be.

Which is why a lot of businesses are disappearing these days, and a lot of employees are becoming ex.

As in ex-employees.

Because times are different and harder.

Because 19th century technology can take you only so far.

Take "supervisor". Did you know that it means "one who watches from above"? In early factories the supervisor sat in a high chair and watched to make sure that
  • Everyone kept moving
  • No one talked
  • No one stopped to think.
An overseer.

Too many businesses still work like factories of 150 years ago, where value came from doing simple, mindless things endlessly and quickly, over and over, without thought.

When work changed the assembly line mindset didn't. It moved into the office and we got the organization man, whose rules of engagement were
  • Keep your head down
  • Get along
  • Be agreeable
  • Don't rock the boat
  • Follow the rules
  • Be a team player
Do those and all would be fine. Until.

Until everything changed and it all hit the wall, which is where we are now.

The world is suddenly full of hungry, intelligent, well educated, ambitious, and capable billions, and they are all out to be better at everything than you are. Than your business is.

And a lot of them are.

Going along for the ride is no longer a good game plan. Biding your time, waiting for that gold watch to appear on the horizon is not the royal road to success.

Being a comfy parasite within a comfy system ain't good enough no more. Now is the time to be a hunter: intelligent, well educated, ambitious, and capable. And creative. Better at everything. All the time.

It's harder but more exciting, and works better.

Being smart, savvy, and technologically adept gets things done. Things like ensuring continued employment. Like staying in business. Which is still the goal.

It takes thinking, and understanding, and nimbleness, and willingness, and a sense of play. And intelligent use of technology instead of mindless use of brute force. Or rote repetition.

And creativity. Don't squelch creativity, or work where it is excluded.

Efficiency, which we started with, isn't the point. Efficiency is a dead end concept. Efficiency is measurable and understandable, and a predictable output, given standard input.

Creativity isn't.

Creativity is life.

Creativity is inexplicable and ineffable and quixotic. And essential. And is never found near assembly lines or conformist team players.

Any company, large or small, that relies on discipline, and rulebooks, and supervisors, and a rigid mindset will now fail. Such a company is rumbling toward extinction in an unstoppable automatic way, dinosaur-like.

And so are you, if you work there, are only an unimaginative parasite, and think that riding a dinosaur is a good business strategy.

So maybe embrace what technology can do. What the web can do for even the smallest business. What it can do is amazing. Check it out.

From buznutt.

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