Here we go again. I keep sounding gloomy these days. I don’t mean to. Promise.
The Era of Anger, the Guardian writer calls it. The revolt of the unheard, the anti-establishment, the Black Swans of Trump and Brexit (and the associated inability of ‘predicting’ anything). Everywhere, I don’t need to tell you, there is some form of un-predicted backlash that puzzles us, surprises us, and leaves us with a feeling of ‘lack of control’. Add fake news, courtesy of Facebook, and post-Truth, and we seem to be living in a bad dream. We will wake up soon and all will be alright, the last mad man says.
Bloomberg has a wonderful The Pessimist’s Guide to 2017 which I think you should read because it draws scary scenarios. Each year this list is scary but I don’t take it completely seriously. This year I do.
I am not pessimist about the future. I am pessimist about our ability to imagine it, to get ready, to take it on. I am optimistic about the human condition, but not about blindness as a disease.
Yet, we have all signs in front of us: what was unimaginable, has taken place. Uncertainty has become a commodity term not more interesting than white, or black, or cold, or hot.
Celine Schillinger, a pharma executive and serious thought leader in Employee Engagement, tweets, ‘Backlash against an out-of-touch establishment could happen in companies too if leadership doesn’t evolve’. Are you serious? Is this a joke? An easy extrapolation? I don’t think so.
Corporate life lives in a bubble. We may not want to admit it, but we do. We think that the forces upon us are the invisible hands of markets, of course the political life, and our own internal capability of producing the appropriate products and services. What we see on TV screens about people’s anger, anti-establishment, out-of-touch leaders caught in a siesta, is ‘out there’. We, people in the payroll, are OK. The revolution will not come to the CEO’s Town Hall meeting.
All that would take is for a large corporation to see employees revolting, bottom up challenging leaders in mass (pick a reason, do you need a menu?) and literally (literally) starting a revolution, an ‘occupy this street’ movement, a serious challenge to policies, to leadership, to anything, for other companies to follow. ‘Employee activism’ is a term used so far as employees actively promoting the company. A bit of a joke and cheeky appropriation or readily available semantics. The real activism would be plain, simple, unexpected, noisy, massive, revolt. As in an Arab Spring in the company corridors.
I know, I know, this is nuts. Not in corporate. We don’t do these things.
Oh well, then, we will be alright.
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