Trust is not simply a matter of truthfulness, or even constancy. It is also a matter of amity and goodwill. We trust those who have our best interests at heart, and mistrust those who seem deaf to our concerns.
As human beings, we are the only organisms that create for the sheer stupid pleasure of doing so. Whether it's laying out a garden, composing a new tune on the piano, writing a bit of poetry, manipulating a digital photo, redecorating a room, or inventing a new chili recipe - we are happiest when we are creating.
Most of us understand that innovation is enormously important. It's the only insurance against irrelevance. It's the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. It's the only strategy for out-performing a dismal economy.
The real damper on employee engagement is the soggy, cold blanket of centralized authority. In most companies, power cascades downwards from the CEO. Not only are employees disenfranchised from most policy decisions, they lack even the power to rebel against egocentric and tyrannical supervisors.
To create an organization that's adaptable and innovative, people need the freedom to challenge precedent, to 'waste' time, to go outside of channels, to experiment, to take risks and to follow their passions.
An adaptable company is one that captures more than its fair share of new opportunities. It's always redefining its 'core business' in ways that open up new avenues for growth.
Today, no leader can afford to be indifferent to the challenge of engaging employees in the work of creating the future. Engagement may have been optional in the past, but it's pretty much the whole game today.
In most organizations, change comes in only two flavors: trivial and traumatic. Review the history of the average organization and you'll discover long periods of incremental fiddling punctuated by occasional bouts of frantic, crisis-driven change.
It doesn't matter much where your company sits in its industry ecosystem, nor how vertically or horizontally integrated it is - what matters is its relative 'share of customer value' in the final product or solution, and its cost of producing that value.
During the ten years I lived in the U.K., I frequently attended an Anglican church just outside of London. I enjoyed the energetic singing and the thoughtful homilies. And yet, I found it easy to be a pew warmer, a consumer, a back row critic.
Remarkable contributions are typically spawned by a passionate commitment to transcendent values such as beauty, truth, wisdom, justice, charity, fidelity, joy, courage and honor.
A well-conceived product excels at what it does. It's close to being functionally flawless - like a Ziploc bag, a radio from Tivoli Audio, a Philips Sonicare toothbrush, a Nespresso coffee maker or Google's home page.
As the great grandchildren of the industrial revolution, we have learned, at last, that the heedless pursuit of more is unsustainable and, ultimately, unfulfilling. Our planet, our security, our sense of equanimity and our very souls demand something better, something different.
In a democracy, you don't need anyone's permission to form a new political party, publish a politically charged article, or organize a 'tea party.' And in open markets, individuals are free to buy and invest as they see fit.
I was frustrated for a long time with my colleagues in the business school world and with so many management authors who didn't really see themselves as innovators. They were glorified journalists.
An employee who's one of hundreds, rather than one of a few, is unlikely to feel personally responsible for helping the organization adapt and change.
I'm not one of those professors whose office is encased floor-to-ceiling with books. By the way, I think academics do this to intimidate their visitors.
An uplifting sense of purpose is more than an impetus for individual accomplishment, it is also a necessary insurance policy against expediency and impropriety.
What's true for churches is true for other institutions: the older and more organized they get, the less adaptable they become. That's why the most resilient things in our world - biological life, stock markets, the Internet - are loosely organized.
In most companies, the formal hierarchy is a matter of public record - it's easy to discover who's in charge of what. By contrast, natural leaders don't appear on any organization chart.