People today are simultaneously driven by greed, fear and self-righteous entitlement; on the one hand undermining responsibility, and chasing money-spinning opportunities on the other. A daily diet of strikes, corruption, political uncertainty, shortages, energy breakdowns and price hikes distort our view of social stratification.
Tolerance for change
Life has become abundantly absurd. We talk about growing vertical gardens within our homes and stocking up on supplies in preparation when the supermarkets run dry, yet few dare imagine how they would attempt to survive when a cataclysmic collapse occurs.
Is there time enough to re-fashion old habits to instill self-leadership capabilities and to lead others? Many potential activists who imagine they have what it takes to move the ball forward falter when they trace their greatest obstacles to something personal – fear of failure, lack of confidence, and poor self-management. The path to conviction and tolerance for change is to collate the benefits of failure through lifelong learning, being defiant in the face of adversity, and engaging breakthrough initiatives as a social entrepreneur by creating positive change in society.
What will happen when earth is depleted of fossil fuel to drive the wheels of industry; when consumerism is compromised by a weak currency; when fresh water becomes a scarce commodity available to only the wealthy or has become polluted and unfit for consumption; when national healthcare services fail a dependent population; and when life is reduced to a barbaric existence and the old rules of entitled human rights no longer apply?
Too many bosses?
There is too much poverty, too much violence, too much waste, and too much inequality. As a global society we have become legitimately dysfunctional through the complex merging of status, class and power into a three dimensional social stratification. As the level of technology increases so the patterns of inequality increases, and will forever be a bone of contention relevant to human advancement. There should always be a group that ‘manages’ things at the top and a bottom group assigned to do ‘productive’ work. Our scramble to over-educate the masses yields too many bosses and not enough workers trained in in-demand vocational skills to do essential work to keep the wheels of commercialism chugging away.
This complex scenario is real. Nations are experiencing a massive systems overload. Anyone with a sense of perspective will acknowledge that it is no longer ‘business as usual’ if our modern civilization is to side-step the great probability of mass extinction of the human race. Millions today are overwhelmed by uncertainty. There is an element of panic in peoples’ behavior. Everybody wants more. Being pessimistic today is fashionable. Yet, all this provokes a hopeful vision.
A mistake still made by most managers today is to measure commercial progress or ‘human capital’ productivity purely by measuring work ethic based on time spent at work; they dismiss the impact of creative work effort. In other words, by not recognizing each employee as an entrepreneur, the company misses out on workers’ capability to initiate new ideas to enhance product value, improve methodologies and build customer relationships. Instead, our modern factory-like culture is a breeding ground for boredom, poor health, and mediocre outcomes. While some companies have successfully departed from the clock-in clock-out custom by empowering their personnel to make their own decisions where and when to work, and who are legally bound to deliver first-rate work on deadline, other managers remain unconvinced. Most of us reading this have become tired of bumping our head against a very low ceiling. Our intention to abandon habitual dead-end routines, seek new fertile ground to develop exceptional ideas, encourage initiative in ourselves and others, invent better fusions of home, work and business; and strive to always be exceptional.
It takes courage to abandon old habits. The velocity of change is increasing. And because the future will predictably be dramatically different, we can’t depend entirely on how we did things in the past. Technology, smart designs, lean management, continual improvement and bespoke marketing will all have their influence. Change is an ongoing process. Learning is a life-long commitment. Workforce stability will be the new competitive edge in a continually shifting world. Companies must intensify their human resources agenda if they hope to strengthen corporate loyalty, prompt employee collaboration to achieve high productivity and maximize profitability. Antiquated leadership styles of the past will be replaced by facilitative management. Directive and autocratic managers are relics from an era that failed to help people recognize their innate talents and reach their full potential. Smart leaders will embrace the continuing transformation of technology.
Kaizen business philosophy
Managing risk and uncertainty is the ‘competitive advantage’ of any entrepreneur. The rule is to understand societal adaptation and market dynamics while influencing the adoption of appropriate returns to continual improvement ‘Gemba Kaizen’ style, which affects the entire company culture, encourages open communication, and promotes seamless adaptation to continual change, teamwork, and taking personal responsibility for the day-to-day procedures one uses on the job. Continuous improvement is achieved by breaking down complex tasks into their sub- or sub-sub components thus making them easily executable.
Our world today is defined by scarcity, complexity and speed parallel to creativity, collaboration and participation. Against this backdrop, we must explore a number of fundamental uncertainties. How might we design new business models driven by more than just consumption? How might we reinvent whole systems in ways that make the limitations of the status quo obsolete? How might we integrate disruptive innovation with consumer delight to drive adoption and impact at scale? How might we create more happiness and a better quality of life for more people as our political resonance and economy shifts to meet the first fragmentary appearance of a wholly new civilization?
You don’t have to be a genius …
We need to practice independent thinking. It’s not popular and extremely rare. Nothing you read about in the papers or see on television is independent. Anything produced by popular media is regurgitated conventional knowledge. There is nothing independent about most of what the world today imparts. This is a calamity; independent thought is crucial for any progress to occur. Conformist thinking pushes us backwards. Independent thinking is vital to initiate any significant evolutionary leap. We essentially need to reject predictable influences and think impossibly. Unreasonable people have the power to persist in trying to adapt the world to their way of thinking. We face epochal challenges – from disease-plagued communities to terrorism and poverty to climate change to global pandemics; we cannot conquer these problems without the engagement of thought leaders willing to explore new markets to catalyze social change. You don’t have to be a genius or well educated to think independently but you must disconnect from traditional sources of conventional thinking. We can increase our capacity for independent thought by questioning the status quo by default. We need to deliberately seek out experiences that challenge our views and then observe the unfolding process from a distance to allow you to gain a different perspective; standing still occasionally affords you the opportunity to dissect redundant beliefs and examine a new approach. Without becoming cynical, develop the habit of instinctively distrusting conventional wisdom; instead of accepting these “truths” as patently obvious delay compliance until you have established the authenticity behind the judgment. Also read State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.
Words by Theresa Lütge-Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)