Employees, managers, leaders, and organizations, don’t really believe the workplace needs to change.
If we really believed the workplace needed to change, we would hire and encourage employees to be candid about problems and issues, in a way that would interrupt the hierarchical power structure, and would encourage creative thinking, innovation, and risk-taking at the lowest level at work, rather than at the highest level.
If we really believed the workplace needed to change, we would have the courage to question issues that we see at work and propose equitable, non-hierarchical solutions to problems, issues, and conflicts, despite the impact of politics, power, or other considerations.
Which is why management training is a worthy investment by an organization into its potential and current managers, but management follow-through and implementation will always be difficult, but not impossible.
Which is also why the organizational view of management must shift and change, from one of day-to-day “keeping the train on the tracks” to one of “investing in pushing employees to be better today than they were yesterday.”
If we really believed the workplace needed to change, we would have the clarity to describe issues, conflicts, ethical and moral lapses, in clear, unambiguous language, rather than covering up with jargon, info-speak, or other forms of hiding.
Which is why organizational communication needs to shift to being more transparent, truthful, and honest. Workplace communication is about promotions, compensation, and all of the ways that we communicate non-verbally about culture to employees at all levels.
Because we don’t really believe the workplace needs to change, we don’t really believe the workplace can change in these three critical areas.
But, in order for the workplaces of the future to be better than workplaces of now–or of the past–we must work actively to change the workplace, whether our belief is solid, or not.
The impact of the next leap remains non-obvious for too many people, and too far off in many individuals’ minds. But then, there is the alarming presence of all the obvious “whens” all around us.
When the AI gets so good that human beings can’t tell the difference between the computer program and the human being.
When the machine learning gets so good that human beings can’t navigate managing and strategizing about the flood of data coming at us faster than the machine can.
When the amount of collected data is so overwhelming that human beings are paralyzed by analysis rather than having the courage to act in spite of the implications of the data.
In a world of those “whens”—which are arriving to the present as fast as they possibly can, no longer “whens” but “nows”—the only areas remaining to categorize, atomize, and to deliver on spec at low cost to an eager consumer, will be the emotional content of individual, human-to-human interactions.
The next leap is not around AI, machine learning, the Internet, or social media applications.
The next leap is not around robotics, data analysis, electric cars, augmented reality applications or virtual reality.
The next leap won’t even be around the industrialization of outcomes to spec on price, cost, labor, and work.
The next leap will be people—individuals, corporations, businesses, churches, schools—preserving and paying for the texture that individuality brings to human interaction.
The companies that are playing the long game of digitizing everything—every human interaction, every job, every product, every process, every service, and every crumb of knowledge—understand this las concept innately.
Google’s next great leap from dominance in the digital world will be from industrialization of outcomes to spec in a digital environment, to dominance in the material world of emotional, human-to-human interactions where spec means something different from individual to individual.
Are you playing Google’s long game, or are you playing humanity’s long game?
The times that you wait to take a risk.
The times that you wait to apply an innovation.
The times when you wait for reassurance.
The times you wait for enough external motivation.
The times you are looking for permission to act.
The times you are waiting for “everything” to be “just right.”
The times you take the risk, despite not knowing how it will turn out in the end.
The times that you apply the insight from the innovation.
The times that you don’t wait for reassurance.
The times you don’t need any more motivation.
The times when you don’t need permission. You just act.
The times when “everything” is not “just right;” in fact, “everything” is “mostly wrong.”
Those are the times that are always here.
They surround you all the time.
If you’re waiting for stability, safety, surety, and certainty, those times are rare. And they don’t come unless you act—actively—to do.
Otherwise, the times that you’re waiting on are assured to never arrive.
Many people who have the historical memory of a different communication world, intuit that the digital world is moving too fast, taking away too much of the “old” world and values that used to be held dear, and is corroding what has remained.
There is also the unstated worry, that the world of digital is moving so fast that it has passed by the wise, in favor of the ignorant, ever seeking knowledge, but failing to ever find the Truth.
The list of problems and issues these people have with modern digital communication are endless:
Lack of relevant empathy.
Increases in narcissism.
Lack of ability to listen.
Loss of critical thinking skills.
Loss of interpersonal communication skills.
Valuing speed to being first over the patience to determine whether you could be wrong.
And so on. And so on. And so on.
I have immense empathy for those who believe that the world is passing them by.
There is an incalculable need for human wisdom from all areas and perspectives to add value by leveraging new digital tools, that it would be a shame to let people other than the wise, to have all the fun in our new digital paradises.
Don’t you agree?
Thinking you know the answer to the question before its even asked, is a sign of a mind that is at the bottom, impatient, arrogant, and prideful.
When you think you know the answer before the question is asked, you have to wonder if curiosity and empathy, or impatience and self-interest are the motives that are driving you.
Thinking you know the punchline, before the joke is even finished, demonstrates that your ability to be open to the new—is really closed.
Now, there are some answers to some rudimentary questions that are obvious.
But there are so many places to add value to the human experience—through effective conflict engagement, the application of radical self-awareness, and the use of connective storytelling—that we need more people to be impatient for the joke to continue.
And for the punchline to remain non-obvious.
However, if individuals continue jumping to conclusions about the answers to hard problems with non-obvious solutions, in a race to the bottom to “just be done” already, well…
…we all have seen how that has worked out in the past to solve the hardest human problems.
The steps to building an effective, online content pirate ship that will surprise your competitors, aren’t flashy or interesting.
But they are effective.
Step 1: Know which content ship to build before you build it.
There are three modern forms of shipbuilding in the value creation space online: writing (i.e. blogs, books, etc.); audio (i.e. voice search, podcast, etc.); and video (i.e. performing, editing, etc.).
You’ve got to know which one of the three is at the edges, which one of the three is the most valuable to you, and which one of the three will get you the furthest.
You’ve also got to just pick one. Better to pick the one you’re good at, rather than the one that’s most popular right now.
Step #2: Pick the right content slip, the right building tools, and the right materials to build.
Knowing your own intuition is key to the first part (pick the right slip) because, as the person building the pirate ship, no one can tell you what the “right” slip is. And, if you try to build a pirate ship in another slip, too far away from the water (i.e. other opportunities) you fail.
Knowing yourself is the key to the second part (pick the right tools) because, even there are many low to no cost solutions to building a pirate ship of valuable, online content, every tool is not for you. And there are a lot of dead ends.
Knowing what you want to accomplish with the ship you’re building is the key to the third part (pick the right materials) because if you pick the wrong shipbuilding materials, your pirate ship of content could sink before it even leaves the slip. Or, much like the Spruce Goose of old, it could only fly once. And then crash.
Step #3: Execute the building with patience, perseverance, and prayer.
Step #4: Launch the ship with a crew (or by yourself) and raid the edges of the empire.
Having an attitude of shipping (launching the ship) and an attitude of raiding (staying on the edges) allows the pirate to explore first with their content, survive second, and to thrive third.
The real tragedy is that many people (now as in the past) will instead choose to eat off the raiding of other pirates, rather than taking the opportunity to build a ship of their own.
There will never be enough reassurance, independence, permission, opportunity, or support for you to act, and potentially fail.
There will never be enough reassurance, independence, permission, opportunity, or support for you to act, and potentially succeed.
So, instead of waiting around for all the conditions to be right, act with clarity, candor, and courage; but, not with hope.
Act with a plan to succeed despite what the outcome may be.
Not because of the outcome.
Because if there will never be enough, then there’s no need to wait for the ducks to line up in a row.
The model is the thing.
Not the product that gets shipped or the challenges and leaps that it makes us take.
The model is the thing.
When we are building a project (or a product) the model of how somebody else accomplished the same thing becomes a valuable tool and set of data points.
The model inspires, the model activates, the model engages us.
When we need support, encouragement, or just reassurance, the model is the thing that does it.
The model is the thing.