The Human Carnage of the Industrial Age
Day 1 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book.
We left the Information Age in the early 2000s when Web 2.0 became pervasive. Part of our business culture has moved into a new era, the Participation Age, but a bigger part of it is still stuck in the Industrial Age. And its wreaking havoc.
Web 2.0 made our world interactive and collaborative in a ways we had never seen before. The hallmark of this new Participation Age is ‘sharing’. People everywhere can now connect and build everything from shared information to shared systems.
We’re Sharing Everything
We have seen an organic and viral explosion in sharing – weekend software projects tackled by people all over the world who don’t know each other; bike sharing; car sharing; house sharing; virtual assistants; co-working spaces; even co-creation of products by companies interacting directly with their customers. Linux, an open-source “shared” software operating system, owned by no one, runs the fastest computers in the world and hundreds of millions of cell phones.
Sharing is the new and uncontrolled economy that is terrifying 21st century Industrialists. United Airlines, a classic Industrialist still mucking around in the 21st century, discovered this painfully when Dave Carroll got ignored after they broke his guitar. He posted a song on YouTube called “United Breaks Guitars” and within four days, United’s stock value plunged $180 million. That’s the power of sharing.
On the positive side, we’ve also seen global responses to a single person’s plight, and the proliferation of crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding companies that help people in ways unimaginable before the Participation Age. We also regularly find people to fix our sink on websites that aggregate the shared reviews of others. Sharing is everywhere.
Back To Being Human At Work
The Participation Age is taking us back to a more natural relationship to work that was dominant for thousands of years before the extremely short, unique and interruptive blip in history we call the Industrial Age. The biggest impact of the Industrial Age was a Jekyll and Hyde experience; raising our standard of living while methodically stripping us of many of the things that make us human, most importantly our ability to ask why, and to create and participate in the world around us, in real and meaningful ways.
The Silent Generation
The crowning achievement of the Industrial Age was the Factory System that dominated from 1850 to 1970, peaking between 1945 and 1965. At the same time as the Industrial Age was peaking, the human product it produced was the saddest in history. Those who joined the workforce in that 20 years are known by demographers as The Silent Generation – “Shut up, sit down, don’t make waves, live invisibly,” and worst of all, “go out quietly”. The Silent Generation was stripped of it’s humanity. It had to be in order to serve the Factory System. There was no other way.
The human carnage of the Industrial Age is the unaddressed collateral damage of how we decided we would produce the toys of the Industrial Age.
The Participation Age Front Office
In the Participation Age, there is another way. A way that makes the company even more money by creating systems and processes that focus on both the health of the production line and the humanity of the staff. The Participation Age demands that we allow people to SHARE in the creative process of building the corporation, and in the rewards that come from doing so.
The Seven Core Business Diseases of the Industrial Age
Many companies are already living fully in the Participation Age, and have been for years, some for decades. We’ll talk about them in later posts. There is no turning back. The Industrial Age is behind us and the Participation Age is fully upon us. To get there, each company has to recognize and confront the seven core business diseases of the Industrial Age; those practices developed as cures for issues in the Factory System, that were at the same time diseases for the people who staffed the factories.
Curing The Diseases
The Industrial Age and it’s Factory System are gone, and the leadership practices that served them both will not serve us in the Participation Age. The cure has become the disease. In the next few days we will discuss the cure. The Participation Age is going to be a lot of fun.
This is a summary of the Introduction to Chuck’s new book, “Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea (And Other Business Diseases of the Industrial Age)”. Click here to pre-order this new ground breaking book at a discount on IndieGoGo.com until July 28.