Culture Shock: A Handbook For 21st Century Business by Will McInnes is a brilliant title on a book which is about the culture shock of moving from the traditional autocratic way of doing business to a democratic approach where there is true participation, openness, fairness, and connectedness. The perspective of Culture Shock is that an organization is made up of people, rather than resources (although human). This means that for an organization to thrive it needs a very clear purpose, which creates meaning way beyond financial results.
The book resonates strongly with me. Will McInnes eloquently puts words on what I think and feel. I fully agree with him that a democratic workplace makes business-sense, society-sense, and people-sense. I think he is right in saying that the huge potential lies in the distribution of power through shared decision making. An inclusive, participative, approach to running our organizations has a “direct knock-on effect” on the way the organization performs. We all know innately that “being bad to people is being bad to the bottom line”.
There are a few areas where I have somewhat different perspectives than Will, but that is okay. We are talking about democracy and being authentic here. One example is the pace of change. Will thinks the new business culture is going to be mainstream within five or ten years. I do hope so, but I think the change we are talking about will take much more time. We are talking about changing domination structures. This change is a culture shock for those in power.
For the rest of us, it is an opportunity to be set free, to be allowed to thrive and show up fully as a human being even in the workplace. And here is the other culture shock. The emotional transparency required to be fully you is a demanding shift. And maybe this is why we have allowed our real lives to be different from our working lives for so long?
So, to give us the best chance of success, we need to step in and support each other. What is so nice is that there are people out there who have actually walked the alternative path for some time now. Will McInnes is one of them.