I am as good as the last quarter!
Does this statement ring a bell? It is an often-repeated statement in corporate corridors. In general, the last quarter is referred to the results achieved in the last period. Whether you are a marketer, or a technology expert, or CXO, this statement applies invariably.
Is your New Year resolve to overcome this state? Are you stuck in your own cocoon and struggling to emerge? Do you even realize this state to overcome?
Last New Year’s eve, I wrote on how to outpace the rat race (1.0). In that article I did mention about the myth that ‘becoming an entrepreneur’ will break you out of the rat race. Despite that claim, I ended up as an entrepreneur. And gained a glimpse of the new journey, breaking away from my 20+ years of corporate foundation.
Since the start of this new journey, I continue to ask myself 2 critical questions on (a) how are we going to exit the rat race? and (b) how will everyone that joins this journey be freed too?
While Rat Race 1.0 outlined the 3 stages to outpace the rat race, the present 2.0 is an effort to visualize the life out of rat race, and a plan to achieve it en masse, by reimagining enterprises.
Day Dreaming with a Purpose (Visualize a free life out of rat race)
How does it feel & look like to be out of rat race? Visual imagination, feeling, and believing are critical steps, to bring it in reality.
To begin with, let us be clear of the definition that free life is not about letting go of life (saint-like), but to live the life to the fullest. A simple example to relate is how ‘TaskRabbit changed handymen’s lives1 – get them to work during their chosen hours, and yet put more money in their hands (average 6000 US$ per month). The following table better clarifies the difference and the definition:
And now let us try to visualize how this will manifest in reality:
- Imagine a work-life that has less stress, and you work in a peaceful manner, without pseudo pressures. As per recent research2, 73% employees are dealing with psychological issues that are caused by work stress. During my recent corporate stint, I witnessed 3 colleagues, belonging to age group of 30-40 years, suffering heart attacks within 6 months.
- Imagine yourself saying ‘no’ to market an awful product or engage a wrong partner or walkout of that irrelevant meeting. It is the freedom to do the right thing that boosts the dignity of work. To narrate an example from a Forbes article3, “Do you have any advice?” Parker, CEO NIKE asked Steve Jobs. “Well, just one thing,” said Jobs. “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.” And that is what makes Jobs the best practitioner of our times. It takes courage to reduce the number of products from 350 to 10, as Jobs did in 1998. And this courage is a manifestation of the resolve to do the right things.
- Your family takes topmost priority and you imagine yourself spending more time with your loved ones. It is to ensure your heart isn’t misplaced.
- Do you know how it feels to walk or cycle to work and yet reach office in 10 minutes? According to a CNN report4, a study by Washington University in St. Louis noted that long commutes eat up exercise time and are associated with higher weight, lower fitness levels, and higher blood pressure—all strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO5) said that air pollution is to blame for 3.2 million preventable deaths worldwide every year.
- Imagine engaging and exiting an assignment and not married to an organization – yet receive better pay, and most importantly the perks that today’s full-timers are privy to. In the future, full timers will reduce, as pointed by many research insights. There are 2 sides to the story, one representing the organizational view, and the other side by the personal preferences of employees, and soon to be employees.
- Organization side: Temp workers and crowd sourcing are becoming more prevalent.
- While the job market in US is good but not great, the number of temp workers is growing over 50% YOY to 2.9 million, as per Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED6).
- Crowd sourcing is becoming prevalent with big businesses emerging in this area. Uber, which has 160,000 (driver) contractors, and 2000 employees only, is a good example – and many platforms such as AirBNB, Food Panda are vying to promote it en masse.
- People (employee-side) preferences are shifting too:
- According to 2015 research by TechnologyAdvise7, Millennial workers will opt for lower pay if it means they can work remotely and receive flex work.
- Working in the cloud13 will increasingly shift work lives away from the corporate offices and towards an ‘in-my-own-place, at-my-own-time’ work regimen. To ‘engage and exit’ is a lot easier and less painful than ‘hire and fire’ strategies that exist today, and the cloud platforms are already hastening this adoption.
- Organization side: Temp workers and crowd sourcing are becoming more prevalent.
- Imagine you have no boss, and you are excited to learn and perform, instead of wasting time to wade through office politics, managing-up and pleasing your boss. A recent study by Accenture8 reports the cause of employee unhappiness: they don’t like their boss (31%), lack of empowerment (31%), internal politics (35%) and lack of recognition (43%). It is not surprising that the surveys confirm the popular statement, ‘people don’t quit organizations but their managers’. Can we imagine an organization or a project that we manage without managers? A sneak-peak into an open-source software project will give a glimpse of that state of nirvana. You can also take a look at the HBR9 case study on The Morning Star Company where 400 employees produce over $700 million a year in revenues, without managers.
- Your helpful hands are wide open for people, and you are no longer nagged or nudged by others to perform. As Zig Ziglar famously said ‘you can have everything you want, as long as you help people get what they want!’ But in reality there are more folks in the profession of harassing others. Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s new 142-country study10 on the State of the Global Workplace. In other words, about one in eight workers are actively doing the work, and the rest simply speak or pretend to work, let alone helping others.
- Instead of a stick (fear) and carrot (anxiety), you see yourself chasing your dreams – and ambitious to achieve it. Stick and the carrot are at the core of rat race, and the cause of it. If there is no boss for me, what is my growth path – is a very natural question to answer. While answering this, let us analyze what makes ‘growing on the career ladder’ an ambition by in itself. It gives you more money, power, and social acceptance. You also have parallel informal organizations that wield power due to relationships, know-how, customer connect, and so on. Examples are plenty, from Lee Iacocca (Chrysler) to Narayana Murthy (Infosys) impacting markets, customers, and co-workers as they moved on. And they ended up making more money, wielding enhanced power, and are remembered for generations. One of these popular names just shifted the job; while the other went on to start his own – also states you can achieve by chasing dreams in both formats – without getting stuck in fear.
- It is a journey from a caterpillar to butterfly – and I am not claiming it to be easy, but natural. To become a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself, but certain groups of cells survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other adult structures (Scientific American article11). It requires us to be flexible, adapt new methods, and align to evolving reality.
Reimagining Enterprises & Employees (How to escape rat race and exit en masse?)
Well, well, well – but how? It is an important question to answer. And it should be backed with right structure, principles, and simpler working norms.
FW Taylor’s management principles on ‘one best way prescribed by supervisors/managers’ were challenged even during his own time, and with the world moving beyond his death centenary, the current realities warrant an evolution of management thought. At a minimum, one needs to ask – do Millennial and Gen Y population entering the workforce need to be ‘managed’?
With this context, let us explore the elements of the reimagined enterprise, from the most simple to complex ones.
- Reimagining Office Spaces
- Satellite offices: Why do employees of an organization need to assemble in a single office in the city? If there are 5 satellite offices connected technologically, (1) It will reduce the commute stress of employees (2) reduce a typical office size to be managed effectively, and (3) eventually employees will find more time to invest in personal health and family.
- Extended Offices – your home: Not limiting to satellite offices, people should have an extended office within their home that is connected to the enterprise. In some instances, it is already a reality, but we can think of an improved experience. The way television sets have morphed into a home theatre thereby improving experience, a ‘home office’ will evolve.
- Divisions of the new enterprise can include (1) a technical team, (2) a marketing team, and (3) an analytics team. The responsibilities carried out by these teams are listed below. Almost all the divisions of today’s complex organizations will fold into one of these new divisions.
- Roles in the new enterprise can include (1) Sponsors, (2) Consultants, and (3) Providers. The role-responsibility chart is listed below. The role simplification, clarity, and transparency of ratings, minimizes politics, nagging behavior and maximizes productivity.
- Technology platform to bring all the elements together
- Musicians to music industry: The way musicians who were revered only in a small town touched millions of people worldwide, thanks to the technology innovation, there are multiple industries that are queuing up for the technology disruption. Hospitality (AirBNB / Oyo), taxi services (Uber / Ola), Restaurant (Food Panda / Zomato), Doctors (Practo), Real estate (Craig’s list / Magicbricks) – to name a few. However technology has the potential to go beyond ‘buyer-seller exchange’.
- Virtual enterprise platform to engage people worldwide: The reimagined enterprise platform should have the ability to engage people (customers and employees), provide right tools as per the function to perform, program manage, track quality, and report to stakeholders. With cloud advancements, a virtual enterprise should be able to take advantage of right resources irrespective of their geo-location or other cross boundary barriers. And more importantly it should enable providers to perform their jobs on the platform to satisfy sponsors.
- International norms for work should be facilitated by the platform.
- Correcting the consumption cycle will get us out of the maze. People are consumed by organizations to produce products or services that are then consumed by people – outlines the consumption cycle. A good example will help to relate better – and let us take how Uber and Ola had transformed drivers’ lives12 – get them to work in the hours of choice, and yet put more money in their hands to the tune of over 3X of their erstwhile earnings.
- Consumers to consume naturally: Before Uber / Ola, Indian consumers (people) used to depend on traditional cabs companies or the unique tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaws). Government tried its best to regulate the rates, but the desired results were never achieved. As a consumer, I had dreadful experience of pre-booking cabs for catching morning flights, followed by frequent follow-ups and chase calls, forcing me to add time buffer during travel. And it is not only the time factor, but also the price demands. While taxi drivers used to show some rate-cards, and do some rough calculations, the tuk-tuk drivers were demanding exorbitant rates. To consumers to consume naturally – there should be good quality levels & consistent delivery – and that is what the new cloud providers have brought to reality.
- Employees to be consumed fairly by enterprises: Now let us look at how they achieved the desired quality and consistency? Again let us take pre-Uber/Ola periods – and just recall how drivers were paid and treated. The drivers used to earn a third of what they earn today, and it was common to see drivers sleeping inside the cab. While there was unfulfilled demand of consumers for taxi service, the providers were sleeping without meeting the demand. Today the provider earnings have increased thanks to technology platform enabling demand channeling. Other important change is a transition from full-time employed drivers, to engage & exit mode at a trip level. In simple terms, the employees are consumed fairly by the new world cloud enterprises.
- No pseudo pressures: The clean processes enabled by technology make it easy for all stakeholders. Before Uber/Ola, there used to be huge pressures, and the service quality levels were low. With the new business models, the anxiety levels have come down for both consumers and the consumed (drivers), as (1) GPS technology shows the location of the cab (2) the customer is intimated of any delays, often accompanies by free upgrades or other discounts.
After all, employees are consumers, and enterprises are (b2b) customers! And the consumers are able to consume better, when the employees are consumed fairly by enterprises.
In summary the route to exit rat race (en masse)
“I am as good as my last quarter (results)” thought process seeds either the fear to succeed or an anxiety to keep the momentum. It locks people within the maze, and keeps them in the run always. This is resulting in a sorry state of ‘people consumed at will by organizations’ – increased stress levels, disengaged from the work they do, hampered productivity, while facing humiliation in the hire and fire world. Both the modern generations (Gen Y / Millennial) and the modern cloud organizations are taking a trajectory that may help in this area. A conscious effort is needed to use this opportunity to wriggle out people from the rat race, en masse.
New reimagined enterprises should emerge to engage people differently. The over used management & organizational practices for more than a century since FW Taylor designed them, have made us forget the core truth that it is all about people who consume and get consumed to create products or services. Only by solving the consumption problem, we can get the consumed (employed people) out of rat race, en masse.
Being a marketer, at the minimum I want to facilitate the mass exit of rat race for people in the function, marketing. Connect to our Dream page to know more.
Let’s celebrate humanity and move out of rat race, together! Let us digest our own fallacies to emerge as a butterfly!
1 Marketwatch.com, story: This-handyman-earned-14000-in-the-last-30 days
2 The American Institute of Stress, NY – research article
3 Forbes article: Steve-jobs said-“get-rid-of-the-crappy-stuff”
4 CNN blog report: longer-commutes-may-steal-health-and-fitness-study-says
5 Gmanetwork.com news: Cleaner-air-would-save-two-million-lives-a-year-WHO-study
6 Research.stlouisfed.org: FRED report on TEMPHELPS
7 Technologyadvice.com report on “employee-perks-study”
8 Forbes.com article: Accenture report study on “im-outta-here-why-2-million-americans-quit-every-month-and-5-steps-to-turn-the-epidemic-around”
9 HBR Case Study: “First-lets-fire-all-the-managers”
10 Gallup.com Poll: “worldwide-employees-engaged-work”
11 Scientific American Article: “caterpillar-butterfly-metamorphosis-explainer”
12 Times of India Tech-news: “How-Uber-Ola-are-changing-drivers-lives?”
13 Intuit Research: Future of Small Business 2020_report