The yearning for a new and better form of respectful and thereby profitable cooperation between people is greater than ever. Industrialization and Taylorism have transformed humans into resources. Initially only the labour of the unskilled worker was in demand, and Henry Ford even complained that he always got also a brain with every pair of hands. Today, in the age of knowledge work, the demands upon and roles of the knowledge worker have differentiated in many ways. However, the basic principle of treating organizations as machines and using employees as cogs mostly remained the same. Man is still a means. I have a dream that people, with all their potential, will really be at the core of organizations. And that this really makes the difference in digitalization.
In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time a rapidly growing number of people have choices. Peter F. Drucker concludes this insight with the somewhat sobering statement that most of us are completely unprepared for this challenge. The more possibilities there are, the more difficult the decision becomes, because every yes automatically means many no. That’s why no is not only the most difficult word of our time, but also the most important word to keep the focus on both the personal and the organizational level.
Agility hinges on the prevailing assumptions about human nature in the organization. Wherever people are generally distrusted and where the belief prevails that people must be motivated to perform, agility will not thrive, but only fear, cargo cult and label fraud. The problem is not people, but demotivating and dehumanizing structures and processes.
There’s a lot of whining and complaining. After all, it is very easy to be outraged about the mistakes made by others and especially by “those up there”. However, this way we focus our thoughts on deficits and problems and tend to ignore the fact that the half-empty glass is also half full. This negativity bias, i.e., the tendency to perceive the negative more strongly than the positive, has been well researched scientifically and seems to be deeply rooted in our human nature. Therefore, it takes mindfulness and practice to overcome it. A nice start is to show appreciation in the form of the new Kudos Cards for the Manifesto for Human Leadership.
Only those who can lead themselves can lead others. This is how Father Anselm Grün sums up the essential challenge of self-leadership. Those who want to serve life and unleash human potential as described in the Manifesto for Human Leadership need first and foremost clarity about the nature of life and especially about their life. Only who has? And who takes the time today to think about the nature of life? A short excursion into Taoism exemplified by the evolution of the Manifesto for Human Leadership.