Ignore History & Prepare to Fail.

Beginning in Britain in 1760, the first industrial age spread to several countries transforming largely rural, agrarian societies in Europe and America into industrialized, urban ones. Between 1800 and 1900 nineteenth-century capitalists invented a new type of city as well as a new type of work. During this time, immigration, capitalism, and machine technology would reshape the culture, character, and landscape of the western world. The changes were sudden, explosive, and deeply disorienting and came at a cost. Written accounts of the fallout were a devastatingly accurate indictment of the failure of swashbuckling capitalists to treat their workers as part of the human race.

Sound familiar? Once again, we are experiencing sudden, explosive and disorientating change. Companies have made up to five enterprise changes – such as culture change, restructuring, market expansion, leadership transition or merger/acquisition – in the last three years.  Digitization and AI are accelerating the pace of change for most businesses.  In 2019, digital transformation spend will reach $1.7 trillion globally, up 42% from 2017. In 2017, 42% of CEOs had begun digital transformation.  This time the cost is the devastation of our overall wellbeing:  stress, the opioid crisis, increased anxiety and depression, physical illness, loneliness.

Gary P. Hamel says “Right now, your company has 21st-century internet-enabled business processes, mid-20th-century management processes, all built atop of 19th-century management principles”

Companies then spend US$10 billion a year on change management consultancy while 50% of change initiatives fail to achieve their objectives; rising to 75% for more complex and ambitious programs. Why do we still use industrial age thinking when creating a work culture? How can we make workplaces more human; and healthier and higher performing as a consequence? What might a human-centered workplace culture in the digital age look like?

Welcome to The Age of Reckoning. We Hope You Enjoy the Ride.

Today’s business cultures make it challenging for employees to respond, adapt and transition to new behaviors. The temptation is still to treat employees like commodities: You are an asset when you perform, especially when it is at any cost, and a liability when you do not. At the core of the breakdown is that many corporate cultures are a relic of the post-war industrial era or built on military-style ‘command and control’ structures. Companies knowingly or unknowingly contribute to employee stress and other mental health problems. However, when you ignore human needs and try to apply change mechanistically, the failures that follow will be spectacular.

It is time to recognize that the digital age requires a different way of being and doing, and is foundational to building a healthy, human-centered future workplace. Former Google software engineer, Brain Bi, predicts that we are entering  what he calls the Age of Reckoning: “ in order to confront the major problems that we will face this century, we are going to have to look inward and confront some uncomfortable truths about human nature, understand the fact that technology can amplify both the best and the worst aspects of it, and possibly come together to make big sacrifices in order to build a world that’s truly better for all of us.”

Humans Are Not Machines & Change Is Not Hard.

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote about the new American constitution that it may have “an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” The third certainty in life that we all deal with as well is change. In fact, we change and adapt constantly in life. Humans are not machines and therefore have the natural ability to adapt endlessly. We are resilient in the face of physical transformations, graduations, new jobs, new boss, career changes, getting married, having children, moving to a new house, illness, divorce, natural disasters. The list goes on.

 Whether we choose to change, or it chooses us, we are not strangers to its footprints in our lives. Humans are sophisticated, complex story-making machines that respond and evolve to their inner and outer worlds; have feelings, beliefs, values, the need to autonomously succeed and be good at what they do; have a fundamental need to connect, cooperate and compete; to be surrounded by beauty, and to follow sane rules and regulations that offer psychological safety and generates trust.  Hamel calls for a revolution in how large organizations are structured, managed and led. He provides a clear blueprint for building companies that are: “As nimble as change itself, innovative from top to bottom, and awe-inspiring places to work”. Drawing on his latest research, Hamel demonstrates that it is innovation in management—rather than in operations, products or strategies—that is most likely to create a long-term advantage. Building on this insight, he believes a company can get a head start on the future by building tomorrow’s best practices today.

Consciously designing a change resilient culture that is human forward and where change happens naturally, you can expect boost meeting business objectives by 600%. Organizations need to create environments that encourage autonomy, risk-taking, sharing, diversity, knowledge flow, and the flexibility on which adaptation thrives. In short, organizations should build a culture on principles that consider human needs and the human psyche. Change Craft evolves those cultures in which humans learn, adapt, become confident and change ready. Cultures that find smart ways to overcome what gets in their way or leads them astray when faced with change.

Are you consciously creating a work culture that taps into the natural human ability to adapt and change…? Take a Change Craft assessment to find out.