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The Human Revolution

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This chapter is from the book

Tomorrow's World: Human Organizations

We need organizations that are more human. We need to re-create our organizations so that the power and energy of being more human in our work life can be leveraged. This has the power not only to transform our individual experiences in the work world, but also to access untapped potential in our organizations.

That's what this book is about. We propose that the reason that we find it hard, in many instances, to truly take advantage of the opportunities created by social media is because our mechanistic business environment is not human enough. It's not built to allow for human qualities, as messy as they are—qualities like being open, trustworthy, generous, creative, courageous, loving, fallible, and fun. There's a lot of talk about these qualities, particularly emerging from social media circles. But talking about them is not the same as having them.

Because let's face it, our organizations still leave a lot to be desired. If you don't believe us, take a few minutes to walk around your office and pluck the various Dilbert cartoons off the cubicle walls to get a sense of what we've created. So many of our organizations are predictably bad. And the impact of the disengaged employees, turnover, and wasted productivity is unfortunately not as funny as those Dilbert cartoons. Part of our problem is our apparent inability to change the way we run our organizations. While we are all working on computers that would have seemed like science fiction only 40 or 50 years ago, we also work within cultures, structures, and processes that have not been noticeably innovated in more than a century. We are still mired in a machine-centric view of organizations, and we're paying a steep price.

And implementing social media is not the same thing as leading and managing organizations. This is not, in fact, a social media book. We dig into social media because it is relevant to the challenges we face in making our organizations more human. Social media is definitely here to stay and it has much to teach us. But social media is not going to get us out of our current mess on its own. Social media is shining a light on the root of our organizational problems. It has captured our attention and energy because it has quickly given us access at a broad, societal level to those elements of being human that we've been craving for the last few generations.

Creating human organizations requires more than social media. It requires new leadership. Ultimately, this is a leadership book, though not in the tradition of "individual leadership," where we provide executives and those who aspire to be executives a list of skills to develop to lead others. We lay ourselves bare here and tell you that those kinds of leadership skills are not enough to create human organizations. We need leadership that is accessible to everyone and that can develop the whole system's capacity for growth. We believe leadership should be as unique as our Twitter streams—meaning that it should be cultivated in each of us through interactions and conversations and connections inside and outside our organizations, both in the center and at the periphery. This is leadership that leaves space for crowdsourced ideas, innovation, transparency as to what will work and what won't and why, courage to admit failures, and diversity of thought and experience. This is leadership that comes in the form of ownership and the ability to act. This is leadership that sparks and encourages turbo-charged, continuous learning. This is leadership in human organizations.

This book seeks to change our path, through all these things and more. Creating more human organizations is an imperative—the disruption brought about by the social web shows us that—and it is also incredibly achievable by all of us. When we talk about a human revolution, we do not imply that we need to come together to prepare for a generation of turmoil to achieve a new world order. Creating human organizations is simply a process of identifying the core elements of organization based on human principles, and then putting one foot in front of the other down that path. It may take a while, and like any valuable endeavor it will be hard work. But it is eminently doable, and doable by you and me, not just by people in positions of authority. Social media is showing us that, too. The amateurs are winning—and some of us are really pretty awesome. What we hope to achieve with this book is to provide a way for you—yes, you, at whatever level you are in your organization—to start making the changes necessary for your organization to become more human.

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