Now with more than 200 years of industrial age backing us we seem to be moving to a new age.
We are yet to decide what we would call this new age. Different people have different names for it. Some call it ‘Participatory Economy’. Some love to say, ‘Collaborative Economy’ or ‘Contributory Economy’ while some rather outrageously call it ‘Neo Capitalism’. Probably it has a bit of everything thrown into this new transformative experience. These more or less point to the new direction we are taking.
Whatever it might be two things are clear. First, we clearly want to get rid of the baggage of concepts of the industrial age that no longer seem to work well in the new reality. Second, we realize a social transformation where consumers are becoming producers of goods and services.
While all these are now playing in the background we seem to be carrying with us a big legacy of ideas governing productivity.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not for a moment suggesting doing away with the useful concept of productivity. The fact of the matter is that new technology aided ways, which we are quickly adopting are already pushing productivity to unprecedented levels, never experienced before.
So, what am I trying to express?The old and now nearly obsolete concepts of ‘productivity enhancement‘ firmly embedded in our collective minds are all set to change. Traditionally, there were two prevailing schools of thought on productivity.
The Western school of thought centers around the idea of leveraging assets through scale of operation and capital infusion driven on management ideas.
The Far Eastern or more specifically Japanese school of thought is closely focused on minimizing wastage driven by hardcore technology.
Today, it seems both concepts have served their time and purpose with the constant blurring of national boundaries, lowering of tariff barriers helped more by the unprecedented use of information technology that brought into being more equitable distribution and use of information as the basic building block for all human activities.The envelope of such human activity is constantly being expanded by the insatiable human desire for sharing individual collection of artifacts, mostly knowledge, strongly backed by the urge for social recognition, both of which were tightly bottled up during the industrial age that promoted secrecy and loyalty to particular clans, tribes, organizations and nations over other human values.
With equitable distribution of information and sharing of individual collection of artifacts we are now in an enviable position in human history to draw upon such deadly combination virtually from anywhere to create something novel and useful to serve society.
That brings human beings right into the center of activities than ever before replacing machines as the center of attention and action.
As we see now, except for a few limited areas, organizations and countries can no longer boast of superior technology or use it as a competitive barrier. Nor can they boast of superior brain power or be upbeat about advantages gained through educational or economic superiority as world economy is becoming economically interdependent than ever before for survival.
So the mantra of improving productivity and a host of other related issues like design, marketing, etc would have to be distinctly different to earlier mantras on ‘productivity enhancement’ considered sacrosanct but ready to be dumped unceremoniously.
The one word mantra that now holds the power to change the world and dent the universe is ‘RESPECT‘.
Everything important would depend on it and would grow out of it, like,
c) Designing and Creativity
d) Empathy and Feelings
How do I know? Having sat through countless meetings, negotiations, collaboration teams, problem solving engagements, training courses in the last thirty one years, I have seen how disrespect buried brilliant ideas, brushed aside human values, blocked feelings, thrown out of the window the whole in favor of partial incomplete solutions, given lip service to teamwork, welcomed cookie cutter rules in place of real innovation, dampened human passion for work, trampled well meant objections, manipulated people, murdered careers and played ball. And all the while Productivity took a real beating. People suffered. Organizations suffered. Societies suffered.
Unfortunately, RESPECT is an almost forgotten word and hardly appears in the vocabulary of present day leaders. How do we develop RESPECT and embed it into our day to day activities is a billon dollar question yet to be answered properly by leaders of our societies for collective sharing and growing rather than helping individual gains?