John uses the word passion, which is nice…but I think just a bit incorrect. Passion and purpose being intimately connected, but at least for me – not sure if this is true broadly – passion changes frequently. I’m passionate about aviation. Then I’m passionate about bread. Then cycling. And while my purpose can and does change with time, it moves more slowly. And when it changes, my profession should change, too.
Most large, public organizations exist to provide consistent shareholder value. Most small-to-midsize organizations exist to glorify the needs of one or more founders. This has to change, and “digital” will push us toward this future organically. (I believe the consumerization of advanced technologies make it easier for more companies to become more successful, which means that organizations can be smaller, more focused, and more true to purpose.)
From workspace design and tools, to incentives, to resource allocation, to attitudes around transparency, risk, contracts, and partnership, we need to build new corporate structures that allow workers to work toward the purpose of the individual and the organization.
Go to a corporate HQ in NYC. Ride the elevators. See the views get better and the per-capita work grow with each higher floor. Listen to people talk about their work. Folks aren’t working toward their true purpose; instead, they’re living as cogs in a machine. Talk to HR about job descriptions, and then wonder why the best and brightest young makers are bleeding out to startups with compelling purposes and flexible ways of working. And that’s just for corporate folks at the center of the organization. What about the lives of the people in the factories, the folks at the retail counters, the line cooks, the outside sales managers, the customer service reps? The people that hate their bosses but are working for a promotion, just so they can head off to the next thing?
When every business becomes a consumer (they’re using consumer tools), and every consumer becomes a business (they’re selling stuff), we’ll all be forced to confront the fact that the way we spend nearly 50% of our waking lives just doesn’t make sense anymore, because we can make a bigger purpose-driven impact all by our lonesome.
This is a revolution. It’s not going to be easy. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. But it needs a name, it needs a face, it needs organization, it needs structure.