Whatever version of ‘hybrid’ you might be thinking about, please don’t just go back to work.
Instead, let’s go forward to work. We can use the disruption from the last 18 months as the springboard to create businesses capable of profiting through purpose. This is the time to build organisations where people no longer balance work with life. Imagine a society where what we give is a lot more relevant than what we get.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into tree-hugging. I don’t believe in funky mission statements that end up hanged on posters, waiting for a new ’digital transformation’ initiative that never arrives. Mea Culpa. I’ve pushed those sort of programs for years and, honestly, I don’t think that telling people to change actually works. A lot of what we did was based on the wrong premises. Yes, Maslow missed the biggest point when convincing us of his ‘hierarchy of needs’. It is not true that what ultimately motivates humans (once fed, housed and supported) is self-actualisation. People are not selfish, self-centred creatures, just interested in Employee Value Propositions. It’s been our own ways of working that has turned people to look inwardly, becoming afraid of not being ‘enough’ and fighting for survival. Unintentionally, we have dampened our natural curiosity for the outside world, weakened our courage and curtailed homo sapiens’ incredible ability to collaborate. And we can’t just force these things back into people by convincing them to be more innovative, empowered, resilient or client centric. It would be like wagging a dog’s tail in order to make it happy. Bad idea…
How did we get here? Decades of burning platforms, best-practices, what’s-in-it-for-me motivators, predictable journeys, manageable action plans, infallible personality tests and sterile job descriptions.
However, what’s worked before is not going to work now. If we are to build future-proof cultures, we’ll need to apply a very different toolbox. In the new world, change won’t take time, but courage. Courage to drive purpose in everything we do, without even talking about it. The type of purpose that we can use as a strainer to separate the wheat from the chuff, only doing what helps and discarding what doesn’t. The type of purpose that drives us to find customer needs before these show up in an NPS. And then we make their lives better. And then we make money, which we will use to create virtuous circles where we don’t need for someone to lose, in order for someone else to win.
Going forward to work won’t feel like work anymore. What needs to change is not where we do our work from, but why we do it. And when we get there, there will be no going back!