The way that things don’t get done around here


A tale of frustration, disappointment and loss

This is the first in a trilogy of articles. What comes next is called “The way things could get done around here – a tale of possibility, progress and the promise of winning”. I am hopeful that in the not too distant future the last article in the Trilogy will appear titled “The way things are done around here – a tale of fulfilment, realization and triumph”.

But for now let’s start at the beginning:

The global economic tsunami that broke in 2008 was a long time in the making. Over many previous years the global workforce had become characterized by a growing gap between the people who dreamed up enterprise strategy and the people who implemented it. The dreamers lived remotely in what were known as ivory towers, the workers populated what were known as the salt mines. The primary motivator of the dreamers was to deliver an ever growing return on shareholder funds. In simple terms they were on a treadmill to prosperity.

The inspiration of the workers was to provide an ever- improving lifestyle for themselves and their families – some aspired to become dreamers. In simple terms they were on a treadmill to prosperity.

So where was the gap? It was in the location of the treadmills.

The dreamers were in a space called POWER, the workers were in a space called POWERLESS.

After the tsunami had passed, the surviving dreamers discovered that they had become severely disadvantaged. The dreams of unending growth had been replaced by the requirement to survive. The workers had now transformed from being the instruments of growth into the elements threatening survival. So many of them had to go, like sailors being thrown overboard to lighten a sinking ship. Those who remained had to row harder.

The pollsters arrived quickly to assess the impact of the disaster.

The results of their research revealed that in 2009 more than 70% of the global workforce was disengaged, meaning doing as little as possible consistent with picking up a monthly pay check, and of these 20% were actively disengaged, meaning anything from publishing CVs to committing acts of sabotage.

These results have not varied by more than a couple of percentage points year on year to the present time.

In a decade that has seen vast improvements in the human condition delivered by the rapid devolution of technology, it is remarkable that the disengagement malaise continues with unabated severity and with no remedy in sight. The reasons for this phenomenon are truly amazing but not hard to discover.

Executive apathy