Getting The People Thing Right

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It is widely believed that the Arab Spring was sparked by a Tunisian food vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire; not because of religion, but because the powers-that-be consistently frustrated his attempts to build his business and earn a living. He didn’t die yelling, “Death to America!” or “Allahu akbar!” He is said to have died crying, “I just want to work.”

People are literally dying to work all across the world. Most are not dying for money per se, but for an opportunity to engage in meaningful work. Some seek meaningful work for themselves, but most are struggling to give their children the possibility of having meaningful work one day.

If you recall my well-being post from several weeks back, I believe we achieve well-being when we:

  • have something meaningful to do,
  • are surrounded by people we enjoy, and
  • have something interesting to look forward to.

That’s all our most of our friends in the Middle East want. That’s all any of us really needs.

And fundamentally, those three things are something that every organization in the world would be wise to provide every one of its employees if it has any desire to survive over the long term.

I believe we are at an extraordinarily interesting time in history; on the one hand, the vast majority of the people in the world – from the streets of Arabia to the walls of Hong Kong – want economic and social freedom. Conversely, I believe that capitalism is under attack from around the world, and significantly so even from within our own country.

I believe deeply in capitalism. But I also believe that the U.S. in particular has more than its fair share of short-sighted CEOs, and that the organizational health of our companies deeply affects the economic and social lives of not only our employees and our investors, but all of their families, our vendors, our customers, our communities, our nation, and ultimately our world.

More to the point, I believe that most (dare I say 95%) organizations could do the “people stuff” so much better than they do for a host of reasons, not the least of which are weak people systems and some serious misconceptions about why people really work, how to motivate, and what strong leadership is all about.

And so marks the intro for my next series of blogs: The People Stuff. Over the next several weeks, I am going write on a host of people-related topics associated with creating and sustaining organizational well-being. I am confident I will provide at least a couple of contrarian thoughts for your consideration. And I will endeavor to give you some ideas, disciplines and tools that will help you enhance not only the organizational well-being of your company, but the overall well-being of our world.

Until next week, may you build with passion and confidence.

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