It’s all about partnership

cartoon004Ok, ok, ok, you’re right, I am a bit of ted.com fanatic and it would probably not be a week without my internet browser surfing there on my behalf prompting me to watch new talks or an old favorite of mine. And the famous ted talk from Sir Ken Robinson on education remains on my top 20, I especially like the animate version of his speech on “changing paradigms” and that very simple point <look the quote here> how educational model in place are often design to reply to the need of industrialization. Do we need a Sir Ken Robinson for our working places to give us a speech on the “changing of paradigms on our organizations”? Actually you’re right, we already have some. I am thinking for instance of Ricardo Semler, a fascinating Brazilian CEO who practices a radical form of corporate democracy, rethinking everything from board meetings to how workers report their vacation days; or Dame Stephanie Shirley who founded in the austerity of post-world war II in UK a very successful company built around flexible hours, rewarding tasks and challenges. In their bio, both Ricardo Semler and Dame Stephanie Shirley, said something similar about their goals, that it was not so much about making money but rather about building something, I understand it as “like going into a mission to create something unique that is going to make a difference”. To succeed in their schemes, they had to have something else in common, they had to view their employees as partner and trust their attitude and maturity.

As years goes on, business challenges evolves however one thing remains constant: the needed partnership between employers and employees, and yes I really mean partnership. Enough data and studies on motivation lately have highlighted that the true motivators, the ones that are really going to get people stretching themselves that extra mile, are sourcing their strength in a sense of purpose, or in the pleasure people have to do their jobs, and this is only possible if people are feeling valued and respected, the same way that they can put energy in their work only if they values their company. And this type of two-ways respectful relationship is found in partnership, not in simple transactional contract. That approach raised very interesting questions. For instance, what type of culture should be developed to create places for partnership? And of course three key words pop-up: trust, authenticity, honest recognition. Another fascinating question, can this notion of partnership applied at all levels of the organization? I believe it can; we seem to have a focus at the moment on more strategic tasks in our organizations defaulting at times production to other countries, taking advantages of a workforce not as exigent in terms of contracts and conditions, however we know that those solutions are rather short term oriented for the purpose of financials numbers, and that they create huge societal problems. So let’s start the brainstorming… what cultural change would we need in our societies and business to move toward a true partnership between employers and employees?

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