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The Participation Age Company – Is Yours?

Day 13 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

The Participation Age isn’t futuristic. Companies in all industries have escaped the core business diseases of the Industrial Age to Make Meaning, not just money. And they make a lot more of both. Can you?

A Big That Figured It Out Decades Ago
Some people are pioneers. Bill Gore was just that. In 1958, at the height of the Industrial Age Factory System, he created a company that foretold the Participation Age. It is a magnificent example of a big manufacturing company ($3billion 10,000 employees) that gets it and ignored the Industrial Age altogether. They are named one of the best places to work every year. Following are reasons for their success.

What Is Gore’s Secret Sauce?
Leaders as Servants; No Managers – “Eschewing hierarchy and bosses, W. L. Gore encourages a team-based environment— and there are no executive perks. “At Gore, we don’t manage people,” wrote founder Bill Gore. “We expect people to manage themselves.”

In 1967, Bill Gore described their culture in a paper as a “Lattice Structure”. This wasn’t a paper he wrote; it was a life he lived out through his company. Here are some quotes from that paper that show how W. L. Gore lives as a Participation Age company:

“A lattice organization involves self-commitment and natural leadership, and lacks assigned or assumed authority… It is through these lattice organizations that things get done, and most of us delight in going around the formal procedures and doing things the straight forward and easy way.” Bill Gore

Attributes of the Lattice
• No fixed or assigned authority
• Sponsors (mentors) not bosses
• Natural leadership defined by followership [Not titles]
• Objectives set by those who must make things happen
• Tasks and functions organized through commitments – Each person in the Lattice interacts directly with every other person with no intermediary. [Not through managers]

Leader Different leaders guide associates in different activities. The title “leader” is earned only by gaining followers. No managers.

Sponsors [mentor newer associates]
• Engage in a one-on-one relationship
• Focus on the development and growth of the associate

Work Teams and Leadership
Leadership evolves based on knowledge, skill, experience or capability in the particular activity in which a team is involved. Leaders are associates who have developed followers. Teams or groups formulate their own plans of action rather than having them dictated to them. Each associate self-commits to projects or responsibilities.

Communications – Direct, Not Through Managers
There is no hierarchy of communication, no need to go through one associate to reach another. Associates are free to go directly to whomever they believe has an answer.

Salaries Set By Peers
Associates rank each other twice a year on contribution to the success of the enterprise, and functional teams assign pay according to the rankings.

A Traditional Manufacturer Escapes the Industrial Age
Semco has 3,000 employees and makes things like washing machines, meat slicers, and heavy industrial machinery. They practice everything W. L. Gore practices, and more. The message here is if the most traditional of manufacturing companies can escape the Industrial Age, it leaves the rest of us without an excuse.

At Semco, the two ruling assumptions are the opposite of Fredrick Taylor’s two “stupid and lazy” assumptions:

“trust in adult behavior” — assume that the basic human drive is to be productive, to build something lasting, and to contribute to something bigger than themselves, and

as adults, every person’s rhythm is different when it comes to when, where, and how they do their best work.

Some of the practical out workings of these two ruling assumption:

1) No HR department – the leaders at Semco do not abdicate their responsibility to the Stakeholders so they could focus on operations and making more money in the short term. They see operations and people in an integrated way, and not a function to be segmented out to HR professionals.

2) No policy documents – none anywhere in the company. Adults will figure out together what matters.

3) No headquarters – There are various facilities in many locations. None of them reports to a flagpole at some “most important” location.

4) Six or more leaders take on the function of “CEO” – and pass it around every six months

5) No job titles – everyone is just an associate – no senior, junior or part-time labels.

6) Stakeholders all decide their own working hours, including all manufacturing associates, and find teams of people to work with that share those life rhythms. Ricardo Semler says, “We want people to work on a structure of their own,” says Semler. “The day that we measured people by time clocked is long gone. We don’t want to know when or how you’re working, but only if you’re fulfilling your commitment.”

7) All 3,000+ regularly receive the company’s financial statements – There are classes to help them understand how to make senses of them.

8) Each small team is fully self-governing and has to figure out how to best contribute to the larger picture at Semco. You can be voted out of Semco every six months by the people who work with you. In my opinion, this is one of the key reasons Semco’s model works – no one can brown-nose or BS their way to safety. W. L. Gore uses this same model.

9) All meetings are voluntary and the first two people there become “board members” with a bigger say during the meeting.

10) The responsibility for reviewing and setting targets falls squarely on every employee for themselves – No one else sets their targets or reviews them.
As you can see, there is a remarkable level of independence, inter-dependence and responsibility placed on each person. People can even start their own businesses using company resources, and many have.

Others Are Already Doing It
We have mentioned many times that size, age of company or type of industry has no bearing on whether a company can escape the Industrial Age and become a Participation Age company. The above are only two examples. We have found dozens of companies in almost any industry and all sizes that are building Participation Age companies in which the hallmark of the company is “sharing”, including TD Industries, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Zappos, 37Signals, Trader Joes, Container Store, Stonyfield Yogurt and hundreds of others.

Making It Work For You
Building a post-Industrial front office isn’t easy, but it isn’t complex either. If you love the idea of building a company that will last for generations and leave a fabulous legacy, this process will be a joy for you, even if you still find it hard. This is not a size-based model, it’s the model that companies of any size who want escape the gravitational pull of the Industrial Age will have to employ in order to be successful in the 21st century.

As the Industrial Age fades and the Participation Age grows, there are more Stakeholders than ever out there looking for you, just as much as you are looking for them. For the next decade you will do a lot of weeding out of “employees”. But more and more you will find people coming in prepared to be Stakeholders who will hit the ground running with you to build a lasting business with a great legacy.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

The Results-Based Culture and What It Will Do For You

Day 12 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

There is a growing wave of companies rejecting the front office practices of the 21st century Industrialist. Here’s what a Participation Age company looks like. They come in in all sizes and industries, and are showing us the future of business is already here.

Our company, Crankset Group, has grown 409% in the last five years by building a company on the following business practices:

Culture is King – Culture is the most important asset in our business. It is who we are at our very core and oozes out of our products and services into every relationship we build. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Great companies do not “have” a company culture. The leadership lives out their beliefs and life principles in their business, and that IS their culture. If our culture is right, we will attract the right people who want to work in that kind of environment. Culture comes from our written beliefs and principles, on which we run our business.

Vision and Mission – A Participation Age company has a well-defined vision and mission. Our vision: To Live Well By Doing Good. Our mission: To provide tools for business owners to make more money in less time, get off the treadmill, and get back to the passion that brought them into business in the first place.

Everyone is a leader – Whoever is most effected by a decision should make that decision whenever possible.

No Promotions – everyone comes in as a “Chief” – Chief Results Officer, Chief Connecting Officer, Chief Relationship Officer, etc. Promotions are time-based constructs of the Industrial Age. Instead of promotions, as people increase their influence in our business, they make more money.

No management – None of the people at Crankset Group are stupid or lazy, so there is no need for smart and motivated managers. We’re all smart and motivated. Everyone is self-motivated and self-managed.

Results Based model – We don’t have office hours. People are measured by results, not time spent in a chair. Get your work done and go home. Pay increases are based on the same thing.

No Vacation Time or Sick Days – Again, get your work done, and go on vacation. We’re all adults and are all owners of our responsibilities, so we can also own our time. We expect people to get more time off than they would in a typical 21st century Industrialist company.

No Annual Bonuses – Bonuses are “time-based” rewards for occupying a chair for another year. We do “Ad hoc” rewards to reward performance throughout the year. They add up to a lot more than an a bonus and actually mean something to those being rewarded.

No Annual Reviews – we review each other and how things are going all the time. It makes no sense to store it up to dump it on somebody once a year. We all know how we’re doing throughout the year – no surprises.

No Annual Raises – As people raise their level of influence and responsibility in the business (they do this, we don’t), we recognize that because raises come ad hoc throughout the years, sometimes a couple months in a row.

No Departments – people don’t “belong” to someone or some artificial group.

Direct Communications – without departments, people don’t have to go through gatekeepers to talk to someone. People who need to talk, do so, and stuff gets done a lot faster as a result.

Profit-Sharing – within 20 months of joining Crankset Group, people begin to receive profit-sharing. They help make the money, they share in the profits, not just a salary (which the owners also get).

The Bottom Line
Ownership is the most powerful motivator we have in business. Stakeholders are treated like owners and expected to act that way. (Note: Because of that, profit-sharing is non-negotiable in a Participation Age company.)

This is a glimpse into our Committed Community business model. If you don’t work for a company like this, start looking for one. Companies everywhere, in every industry, are leaving the Industrial Age, entering the Participation Age, and embracing similar models. We’ll look at a few of those in the next blog post.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

The Seven Business Cultures – Which One Is Yours?

Day 11 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

“Culture eats strategy for lunch.” – Peter Drucker. What You Believe Determines Your Culture. A company with two people in it has a culture, and that culture is simply what you believe and value. Those beliefs and values determine how you make every decision. The outcome of those decisions is your culture. Which of these seven identifies your company?

Business owners complain all the time about lousy customers, or difficult employees and vendors. If you have customers, employees or vendors you don’t like, look in the mirror. The problem is almost always that you aren’t running your company on your culture, but on an addiction to shiny objects, or short-term decision-making (the need to get the money flowing quickly right now).

If you don’t like what you see in your company, your clients, or your Stakeholders, take a look in the mirror. It is very likely you aren’t running your company on what you believe, but are just taking clients, employees and vendors based on impulse. The revenue generated by violating your beliefs will not compensate for dissonance it creates in your business and more importantly, in your life.

Pick a Company Culture
In working with companies on four continents, we have seen seven common types of company culture. Which one is yours?

1) The Inmate Culture – people are stupid and lazy. They are boxed in, with no ability to make decisions and are at the mercy of the tyrants for which they work. This was the Carnegie culture.

2) Axle and Spokes Culture. It’s more like a cult than a workplace. He makes all communication and decisions. He divides the people against each other and forces everything to come through them, without interacting on their own. The guy at the top of this culture is usually very insecure, or has a giant ego. The “boss” is the center of everything.

3) Hired Hand Culture – People are a necessary annoyance in the business. The objective is to only give away the tasks the owner hates, and no others. They don’t want to hear from the employees. Go ride the fence and leave me alone.

4) Family Culture – I’m the adult, you’re the children. I will take care of you and protect you and burn myself out doing things that you can’t seem to get done. You will depend on me for everything. It makes me feel valuable. My door is always open for you to come to solve your problems for you.

We see this in everything from mom and pops to fairly large companies where the department heads function as the only adult in the department. Do you really want more kids? Some business owners and company leaders apparently do. People rarely get fired from this type of day care center.

5) The Allies Culture – The most predominant Industrial Age culture model still in practice in today. Like World War II alliances, the focus is largely on the task, and relationships are only a necessary inconvenience to help us get the task done. You don’t have to like each other; just need to focus on the task at hand. The overwhelming majority of big corporations have Allies cultures

6) Friends Culture – This “hippie” culture is a 1960s reaction to the Industrial Age and its Factory System. All authority is bad because the Industrialists abused it. We see The Friends Culture a lot in smaller companies that have been bought out by employees, or one employee who has worked there a long time. We also see it in larger but very new companies started by Millennials who are reacting to Industrial Age companies they have been around.

But the Friends Model is actually an unintentional extension of Industrial Age employment, because nobody wants to be the adult Stakeholder and make decisions on their own. They need to get everybody involved and the group makes the decisions. Kum ba yah – can’t we all just get along? Good luck with that. Consensus eventually, if not quickly, leads to something unremarkable that pleases everyone and stretches no one. The hallmark of the Participation Age is sharing, not consensus.

7) The Community Culture – This is the Participation Age model and works in companies from 2 people to 10,000 who are practicing it today. The Community culture, in its structure, looks a lot like the workings of a town. Every town has clear hierarchy; it’s not a “Friends/Hippie Culture”. Every town has a mayor (or other top decision-maker or makers), city council (leadership team), functional group leads and many others who all have some kind of accountability relationship, whether with a team or a single individual.

Clear hierarchy does not mean a heavily top-down hierarchy. A satellite dish to demonstrates the Community model that is taking hold in companies of all sizes. In this model, leaders are on the bottom as servants, not a privileged class. Hierarchy is de-emphasized by giving most leadership and decision-making to a much broader group of individuals; really to everyone. The satellite dish allows for leadership and decision-making to move from one person to the next as needed to accomplish the objective.

Sometimes the head honcho of the company finds themselves way out on the edge of the satellite dish, with someone else dead center in the middle of it, making some decision. Great leaders know when to get out of the way, and do it as often as they can.

Another good image of a Community culture is a soccer team, basketball team, or hockey team. Whoever has the ball/puck is the leader and they have to be trusted to know what to do with and who to pass it to next. There is a coach (leader), but they don’t run out on the field, grab the ball from each soccer player and kick it around themselves. If the players can’t be trusted to make good decisions, the coach needs other players.

In the Community culture model, giving this kind of ownership and responsibility is one of the most powerful ways to provide people the ability to Make Meaning, which is a much higher motivation for Stakeholders than just making money.

A few short years from now this will be a big duh, as the younger generation builds businesses in the Participation Age that encourage people to share in the creation of great companies.

If you don’t have a Participation Age Community culture right now, what one thing can you do today to begin to move in that direction?

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

Stakeholders – A New Model for the Participation Age

Day 10 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

The Industrial Age created the modern employee on such bad assumptions (you’re stupid and lazy) that the whole concept is simply broken. Both the word and the concept of “employee” are not redeemable. The Participation Age requires Stakeholders.

“Pick yourself. Don’t wait for someone to pick you. The shift is that it doesn’t matter if you own a company. You can make an impact if you want to.” Seth Godin, Linchpin

Employees Are Replaced by Stakeholders
Our company doesn’t hire employees; we have replaced them with Stakeholders, and we are working with hundreds of early-adopter companies who have decided to do the same thing. It’s not woo-woo crap. It is hard core Capitalist intention to be the best company in the long-term, making great profits, and adding tremendous value to the world around us.

Stakeholders are Self-Managed
Stakeholders are first and foremost self-motivated and SELFMANAGED adults who can think, take initiative and make decisions, carry responsibility, take ownership, be creative and solve problems. Stakeholders can be left home alone. Employees (children) can’t.

Stakeholders are Adults
Our Stakeholders are all adults. “Employee” is a four-letter word for us. Adults don’t need someone to keep them from running into the streets or ruining the carpets. Adults ask questions, most importantly, “Why?” Unlike the Silent Generation, they don’t live passively but are self-motivated, self-managed, creative, and problem solvers. They don’t shut up; they make waves. They don’t sit down; they are highly visible. And they don’t expect the company or other adults to take care of them.

Stakeholders Are Owners
Stakeholders are owners. It is a requirement of being a Stakeholder. Adults own stuff, and they own their work as a natural part of being an adult. Most importantly, they own their result, something employees/children rarely think about. The most powerful motivator in business is ownership, and when you find someone who views life as an owner/Stakeholder, they will rock your business.

Stakeholders Bring the Whole Person To Work
Stakeholders bring the whole messy person to work, not just the extension of the machine. That sounds counter-productive except the messy parts are what help us think, ask why, create, solve problems, innovate, and inspire others to do the same. If you want people who will regularly bring great ideas, creativity, problem-solving and innovation to work, you have to not just ALLOW the whole person to show up, you have to REQUIRE it.

A Stakeholder would never think about dividing themselves into “Work Bob” and “Play Bob”. It’s unnatural and keeps us from contributing like we are required in the Participation Age.

Stakeholders Require Leadership, not Adult Supervision
If you hire Stakeholders (adults) instead of employees (children), it changes the way you direct people.

Stakeholders don’t need management; they need leadership, which as we showed in an earlier chapter, is a radically different thing. Simply put, Stakeholders need a leader who will give them vision, give them the tools they need, train them and point them in the right direction, and the Stakeholder will take it from there. Employees need to be hovered over during the whole process to make sure they get it done.

Stakeholders Don’t Report to the Day Care Center
There is nothing wrong with an office. We have one for our clients (not our Stakeholders). Our Stakeholders work where they can be most productive. If it served them to have an office desk, we would get them one. But employees are different. They need to be herded daily into an office day care center. They can’t be trusted to work as adults on their own without direct and close supervision. We don’t have any managers. We don’t need them – we have Stakeholders.

Stakeholders Focus on Work, not Promotion to the Next Title
In our company, upward mobility is not even available. Every adult who works with us has a title that includes the word Chief; Chief Results Officer, Chief Connecting Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief of MIH (Making it Happen), etc.

None of us will ever need to be promoted; we all came in at the top. The only place to grow is laterally. As our influence and impact grows, that will be recognized and somebody might change our title (there is no centralized title giver). Owners don’t get promoted; they just make more money because they expanded their value to the world around them.

Stakeholders Participate in Profit-Creation and Profit-Sharing
Stakeholders are owners, who own their jobs, processes, systems and their results. They function as if they have actual equity ownership in the business, which means they need to be rewarded like one. Every full-time Stakeholder with us takes part in profit-sharing starting in their second full year. Why wouldn’t they? They’re all adults who own their work, so they should own some of the profits from their work as well. No equity owner would work harder just to see the profits given to someone else. Stakeholders will find another place to work if you do that to them.

Stakeholders Never Get Bonuses, Only Rewards
Stakeholders do not receive year-end bonuses for having occupied a chair for another twelve months (time-based). They get rewarded when they do things well (results-based). People get gifts, money, gift cards weekends away, pay raises and other rewards for having performed well. It’s ad hoc and requires that we pay attention to people. And that’s a good thing, because then we see their great value.

Nothing irks a Stakeholders like the 2.5% across the board bonus that goes to both disengaged employees and Stakeholders, regardless of their contribution. Any equity owner would reject a system that paid every business owner in their industry the same amount regardless of how well they had grown their businesses. Stakeholders are no different.

Stakeholders Make You and Themselves More Money
Do Stakeholders make a difference? We believe they do. Only thirteen companies have made the Fortune 500 “Best Places To Work” list every year it has come out. All of them are more profitable than the average for their industry; most of them wildly more profitable. We’ve grown over 560% in the last five years with Stakeholders.

We Didn’t Invent Stakeholders
Stakeholders isn’t a new concept. There is a fast growing tidal wave of businesses in every industry, of every size and age, that have already cashed out of the Industrial Age, and are fully embracing the Participation Age. To do so, they proactively create company cultures that are conducive to celebrating Stakeholders, while 21st century Industrialists create cultures that mirror the Factory System of the mid 1900s.

Do You Have Stakeholders? Are you one?
If you are treated like an employee and don’t like it, start looking for a Participation Age company that will invite the whole person to come to work. If you are a company that has ongoing employee issues, it’s not the employees that are the problem. It’s your belief that they need to be managed, or your unwillingness to move the children along and replace them with adults. We know companies with 10,000 Stakeholders and no employees. You can find them, too.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

Retirement is a Bankrupt Industrial Age Idea

Day 9 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

Two-thirds of the people who have ever reached the age of 65 in the history of man are alive today. Living longer is a brand new thing, and we are profoundly unprepared to deal with it. The Industrialists found it extremely inconvenient, so they invented this dumb idea called “retirement.” It is an early stab at dealing with old age and will itself die away.

Retirement is a really bad, bankrupt, industrial age idea that was never a good concept in the first place. It is a core disease of the Industrial Age and will not be welcomed by future generations. Beside the fact that it was invented to get creepy old people off the assembly line during the Industrial Age, it makes a mockery of the 45+ years that come before it. And as proof, it’s already being rejected by a majority who grew up in the shadow of the Industrial Age.

Where Did Retirement Come From?
In 1889, Otto von Bismarck invented – that’s right, invented – retirement, because people in Germany who refused to quit working were causing great unemployment among younger people and gumming up the works in the Factory System.

William Osler, a founder of Johns Hokpins University didn’t help. In a 1905 valedictory address, he said, “It is a matter of fact that the years between 25 and 40 in a worker’s career are the 15 golden years of plenty.” He then quoted Anthony Trollope from 1882 who recommended that “the elderly be chloroformed by the age of 68.” Osler later died of the flu at the age of 70, having sucked up two extra years of oxygen someone under 40 could have used to be more productive.

Get Off The Bus, Gus
After decades of resistance, in the 1950s, at the peak of the Industrial Age, retirement finally began to catch on when people began to discover that they could replace work with play. The debates of the 1950s and ‘60s as to whether leisure could replace work as a source of meaning in people’s lives has been clarified by today’s experts. Surveys show that most people prefer continuing to put their hand to Making Meaning over holing up on a golf course. Leisure is very attractive as a change of pace here and there, but most of us reject it as a source of ongoing meaning. People want to “participate” and “share” even in their elder years.

As a result, the majority of retirees have gone back to work in some form, and less then 18% say it has anything to do with insufficient retirement income. People are deciding to CHOOSE (a very powerful thing) to stay in the work force, and doing it to Make Meaning, not just money.

Death By Golf
Retirees have replaced work with play, thinking that will make us live longer. But a thorough 90-year study of 1,528 Americans called The Longevity Project, shoots big holes in the retirement dream. Turns out goofing off for the last thirty years of our lives is a really bad idea if you want to keep living. The earlier you retire, the quicker you die. This study shows that if you retire at age 55, you are 89% more likely to die before the age of 65 than someone still working at age 65 has of dying at 75!

Also, those who have just retired are most likely to suffer from depression. They are no longer Making Meaning, and they know that golfing, all by itself, will not fill the void. The idea that work is leading you to an early grave is a myth. This massive study proved what we’ve been saying for years now; we should get up every day asking how we can Make Meaning in the world around us.

The New Normal
The new normal is to continue to work after 65, not because we have to, but because we all want to Make Meaning, not just money, and we want to do it every day, not just for the first two-thirds of our lives.

The farther we get from the Industrial Age, the more we realize retirement is just a dumb Industrial Age idea that was foisted on us, once again, to help the Industrialists make money, but certainly not for our own good. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) posed this question to Americans: “If you were to get enough money to live as comfortably as you like for the rest of your life, would you continue to work or would you stop working?” 85% said they would not retire.

A goal realized is no longer motivating, and retirement is a goal realized. The retirees meaningful years are behind them, and now they’re just coasting. And by the way, the only way to coast is to go downhill.

Make Meaning. Seize the day, every day. Carpe freaking diem already.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

Separation of Work and Play Dehumanizes Us

Day 8 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

The following is a short blog post a few years ago by a young guy in his 20s heading into work. It was riveting and was partially responsible for setting me on the path to writing “Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea”. I never saw it again, but it made such an impact I can almost recite it from memory:

“Every day I go to work.
When I get to work, I park, leave myself in the car, and head into work.
At lunch I always try to come back out and reunite with myself for a few minutes before I have to leave myself in the car, and go back into work.
I do this everyday.
And in the evenings I always hope I get off in time to reunite with myself…before I’m gone.”

This wasn’t a kid writing in 1895 about his experience in the steel mill, but someone writing in the 21st century about their experience working in the front office in modern corporate America.

In 2013, Zappos moved to downtown Las Vegas. Tony Hsieh’s reason, “I want to be in an area where everyone feels like they can hang out all the time and where there’s not a huge distinction between working and playing.”

For thousands of years we worked where we lived, and lived where we worked. But in the late 1800s, Frederick Taylor and the Industrialists decided that didn’t make sense. Taylor and the Industrialists worked very hard to separate the two, saying it was “ordinary common sense”. He may have thought so, but it’s not normal, it’s not human, and it doesn’t help productivity in the Participation Age. Separating work and play is another business disease instituted during the Industrial Age as a cure that ended up being the disease itself.

Top Motivators – Making Meaning
Three things motivate people more than money in the Participation Age.

1) Flexible work schedule – let me decide when I work.

2) Praise and Recognition – catching people doing something right.

3) Breaking up the work day – research shows productivity goes up if we take a break in the middle of the day and do something unrelated to work – take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim, visit an aquarium.

In the Participation Age, Stakeholders expect to integrate work and play, just like we did before the Factory System.

The Old (and Returning) Normal
For thousands of years people lived where they worked (over the storefront or on the farm) and played where they worked. Community was built around work and small markets. The kids ran and played, learned and worked, the grandparents helped out – everyone was involved. When work was slow, people played more and when it picked up at harvest time, or in the mornings when the cow needed milking, they put their hand to it. Barn raisings, quilting bees and even harvest time brought everyone in the community together as families to work, play, and socialize.

There wasn’t much separation of work and play in the process. It was considered natural to blend the two.

Our Past is Our Future
In the Participation Age the work world is once again full of options, making the time/money trade-off a lot less clear, and universally unattractive. Savvy employers are dropping their commitment to a Time-Based Industrial Age culture, and replacing it with a Results-Based culture that values PRODUCTION over PRESENCE.

In the Industrial Age, the employer held all the cards and said, “If you give me your best time, I will give you some money.” Today’s Participation Age companies understand that if they give their Stakeholders time, the Stakeholders will make them some money. Time is the new money.

It’s a New Work World
The Center for Talent Innovation (CTI cites reports that an overwhelming 90% of people want flexible work arrangements. CTI also says, “Companies that treat time as currency — through remote work options, staggered hours, and reduced-hour arrangements — are also more likely to attract and retain high-caliber employees.”

Mayur Singh, a vice-president, one of the largest banks in the world, HSBC, spends six months of the year working at an eco-conservation project, and six months in the HSBC office working. HSBC allows any employee to participate like Mayur Singh. The result? Productivity has shot up in 88% of the participants, and has not declined at all in those who have decided not to participate.

Patagonia, a manufacturer of athletic clothing, encourages its 1,300 Stakeholders to take off during any work day to ride a bike or go surfing. It also gives them two full weeks of paid leave if they will use it to serve a nonprofit of their choosing.

Point B, a Portland based management consulting company with over 400 Stakeholders, offers NO vacation time. They simply pay for time worked. One Stakeholder gushed, “I’ve never worked anywhere that was as committed to helping employees realize what the work-life balance means to them individually.”

Semco, a large Brazilian-based manufacturing company allows you to reduce your work hours for a few months or even longer so you can spend more time with kids or pursue some activity you love.

Citrix reports flexible workplaces save tens of thousands of dollars per employee each year, Stakeholders are 55% more engaged, and productivity increases on average 27%.

It’s Not Optional
People reading this through Industrialist’s eyes are going to say they just won’t play in the new sand box and don’t need to; that there will be plenty of stupid and lazy people left over with which to squeeze the last dime out of the existing matrix. They are wrong.

The work-world is changing and the workforce is shrinking worldwide. In the Age of Participation, Stakeholders will decide for themselves which organizations are desirable and which are not, and will use such measurements as culture, employer reputation, and the company’s willingness to engage in Making Meaning, to make that choice. We are beginning to see a dramatic shift in the employer/employee relationship. In the Industrial Age, the Factory System Industrialist held all the cards. In the Participation Age, the shoe is on the other foot. As a Pricewaterhouse Coopers study says, “the employee will call the shots in tomorrow’s world.”

The Industrial Age practice of trading time for money has been exposed as a disease, not a cure. In the Participation Age, time is the new money. Companies that figure out how to compensate Stakeholders as much with time as with money will do well going forward. The Industrialists will cling to the status quo, and future books will report seeing them last as they were rearranging the deck chairs around their factories on the way down.

Time is the new money.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea

Day 5 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

This Industrial Age concept was never a good idea for companies, and was worse for the “employees”. Today, companies that move forward without employees will thrive. Those that don’t will fall behind.

Children or Adults
The Industrial Age gave us cool toys and a cushy life, but it also came with some Business Diseases. One of the most rabid of the Business Diseases is the concept of an employee, which is a very new idea in the history of man, and one that needs to go away.

When machines took over most production, they couldn’t run themselves, and so the Industrial Age re-created people in the image of machines in order to run them.

Employees are “Silent”

Over time companies made it clear they only wanted the productive part of the person to show up. They required people to leave the human being (the messy part) at home. As a result, the generation which entered the work force at the very peak of the Industrial Age (1945-1960-ish) was given the worst generational label ever – The Silent Generation. If you had a “Silent” as a parent, you learned to live life the way they had been taught – “Be loyal to the company. Do what you’re told. Show up early, leave late. Shut up, sit down, don’t make waves, live invisibly, go out quietly. The company will take care of you.”

Employees are Children
This view of work (and life) turned adults back into children. You were taught that the most mature person was one who obediently took orders, did what they were told, didn’t question authority, was blindly loyal to those in charge, and lived passively as others directed their lives. Pretty much what we want a four year old to do.

In order to keep the children from ruining the house, and to make them extensions of machines, the Industrial Age required they come to the office Day Care Center every day, boxed them in with extremely clear and narrow limitations on what they could do, the hours in which they could do them, and endless limitations on being human and “adult” at work. It stripped them of their need to think, create and solve because the machine didn’t need them to think, create and solve. It just needed them to do.

Employees Are a Disease, not a Cure
We reject the business culture of the Industrial Age as a bad idea that needs to be corrected. Employees are one of those Business Diseases that should be eradicated. Because of the Industrial Age, the word “employee” has become synonymous with “child”. We can’t even use the word anymore. We don’t want to hire children who need to be told what to do and managed closely so they don’t run into the street.

Employees are Replaced by Stakeholders

In the Participation Age, we don’t hire employees, but have replaced them with Stakeholders. Our Stakeholders are sold out to living well by doing good, and are not employees who punch clocks. Stakeholders are first and foremost adults who can think, take initiative and make decisions, carry responsibility, take ownership, be creative and solve problems.

Stakeholders are Adults

Our Stakeholders are all adults. “Employee” is a four-letter word for us. Adults don’t need someone to keep them from running into the streets or ruining the carpets. Adults ask questions. They don’t live passively but are self-directed, creative, and solve problems. They don’t shut up; they make waves, they are highly visible and they don’t expect the company or other adults to take care of them. Adults own stuff, and they own their work as a natural part of being an adult. And the whole messy person comes to work, not just the extension of the machine.

Stakeholders Require Leadership, Not Adult Supervision
If you hire Stakeholders (adults) instead of employees (children), it changes the way you direct people. We don’t have office hours, vacation time or personal days. We’re not interested in whose car was in the parking lot first or who left last. We believe office politics is a waste of time, so no one will ever be promoted.

Stakeholders Focus on Work, Not Promotion to the Next Title

Every adult who works with us (over 20 full and part-time and growing) has a title that includes the word Chief; Chief Results Officer, Chief Connecting Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief of MIH (Making it Happen).

We don’t have supervisors or managers or directors or VPs – just Chiefs. None of us will ever need to be promoted, we’re already all at the top. We’ll just grow into more responsibilities as we become better at things. As we do them, they will be recognized and somebody might change our title (there is no centralized title giver).

Stakeholders Create Better Teams
We believe in working together as Committed Community (adults live in community) to get results for each other and for other business owners. Every full-time Stakeholder will take part in profit-sharing. Why wouldn’t they? They’re all adults who own their work, they should own profits from their work as well. That’s what adults do.

Stakeholders are Self-Motivated and Self-Managed
Although we lease 1,500sf of office space for training and rent other spaces around the city, none of us have an office there – we all work from our homes and places like breakfast joints and coffee shops. If it helps somebody to get things done better, we’ll get them an office.

Stakeholders Make You and Themselves More Money
Our business grew 61% in 2010, 41% in 2011, 66% in 2012 and projected at 150% in 2013. Why? Because every Stakeholder is an adult, taking responsibility, creating, problem solving, making it happen, and taking ownership of whatever needs to be done to bring our clients the best experience and the most tangible results possible. And everyone is a lot happier because they all work with adults who pull their own weight.

Employees are a alway bad idea. Stakeholders will replace them.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

The 21st Century Industrialist Is Not a Capitalist

Day 4 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

The 21st century Industrialist is one of the core business diseases to come out of the Industrial Age. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful; that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs

People who hate business think that Wall Street and all it’s excesses, actually represents capitalism, and therefore hate Capitalists. Capitalists want to do “something wonderful”. But Wall Street and most of the Bigs of today are not Capitalists at all. They are just old-fashioned Industrialists running smokeless, digital factories. I’m a fire breathing, rabid Capitalist who wants to do something wonderful. I can’t find anything in common with either the Industrialists of the 1800s or those of today that masquerade as Capitalists.

Attributes of the 21st century Industrialist
Following are six distinct attributes of a 21st century Industrialist that separate them from traditional Capitalists who are focused on doing something wonderful.

Attribute #1 – Being Big vs. Being Great
Being big, not being great, was the primary driving force behind the famous Industrialists of the 1800s. 21st century Industrialists like Microsoft, GM, the publishing industry, and most banks assume it is the holy grail of business. For them, being big trumps being great.

Attribute #2 – Closed Markets
The Industrialist’s goal was not to be the best, but to destroy everyone else in a zero sum game of dog eat dog. The modern day 21st century Industrialist works hard alongside politicians to keep the markets closed to small newcomers.

Attribute #3 – Resistance to Progress – Status Quo
Industrialists are brilliant at squeezing the last dollar of profit out of the present market, and are unparalleled at doing so. But this massive investment in legacy systems make it very difficult to adapt and move forward in a fast-paced world. The constantly changing world threatens the Industrialist’s dominance, and puts them at an extreme disadvantage to newcomers. Progress is the enemy of the Industrialist. The status quo is their friend.

Attribute #4 – Users, Not Creators – The Cash Cow Rule
Industrialists rarely create, invent or innovate. They are users of existing products, services, sectors and industries in order to gain power for themselves. They look around for proven winners that can be controlled and spun up to great efficiencies, with bigger opportunities to dominate and be powerful. It’s about building a cash cow, not creating or innovating.

Attribute #5 – Focus on the Competitor (Destroy, Mimic, or Buy)
Industrialists worry a lot about what the other guy is doing, because the other guy could end up creating something that will take market share away from their fiefdom. Instead of focusing on being more creative, they work to destroy, mimic of buy those who might threaten their control.

Attribute #6 – Short-Term Decision Making
Businesses controlled by investors make almost all of their decisions based on what is good for the company’s quarterly report, even if it hurts them in the long run, which it usually does.

Industrialists Are Not Capitalists
Let’s stop lumping Capitalism in with industrialism. Instead, let’s identify which companies are embracing 21st century Industrialism for their own short term gain, and which ones are focused on building sustainable companies that Make Meaning in the world around them, for the benefit of everyone in the process.

This is a summary of a chapter of 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.

The Problem with Big

Day 2 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book.

Jerry Garcia said, “Too much of anything, is just enough.” But “Big” is one of the core business diseases of the Industrial Age; a very new business solution devised by Industrialists to serve themselves. Big has big problems that Small will never experience.

It took a long time for us to fall in love with Big, in the 1970s, almost at the very end of the Industrial Age. But since then, we’ve become addicted to big. We can’t help ourselves. Big “anything” is just too cool for school.

Why is Big so Big Now?
Big Government has been around a long time, but Big Business as a dominant force is brand spanking new. There are just 167 companies in the world older than five hundred years, and only one of them has more than 100 employees. The rest are Smalls. After thousands of years of running economies on the backs of the Smalls, we now just assume Big is the best and only way to go.

The Problem With Big
Big has special problems that it doesn’t share with Small. Whether it is business, government, dinosaurs, hurricanes, or snowstorms; the really big ones have two intrinsic problems that Small doesn’t have:

1) The bigger they are, the more problems their complexity creates, for themselves and the world around them.

2) The bigger they are, the greater impact their mistakes and problems have on themselves and the world around them.

In 2008, one giant financial institution, Lehman Brothers, collapsed, which created a domino effect, threatening the entire banking system. As a result, in 2009, and for almost two years after, the U.S. economy was stunningly rated by the National Security Agency as the highest threat to U.S. national security, higher than terrorism or any other outside threat. The United States addiction to Big had become our own worst enemy.

Big is Bigger Than Ever
How did the two Bigs (business and government) respond to this internal threat to our nation’s security? Big Government gifted hundreds of billions of dollars to a few giant banks without so much as an I.O.U. Free money with no strings attached. Big government had to do it. Big business was holding the government and the entire country hostage by sheer virtue of its size. The big banks are now all bigger than they were when they were “too big to fail.”

What did the giant banks do with the bailout gift? They put it in their pocket and stopped lending to small business. Small business in America was crippled by this one act which went largely unreported by big media, and is still the largest underlying cause of the slow recovery.

Big Impact
As this shows, the reach of bad decisions by the Bigs can be devastating. When Big does something stupid like Lehman Brothers, the impact is global. When Small does something stupid or intentionally detrimental, it’s no less acceptable, but the scope of the damage is localized and controlled. It’s the difference between the mistaken detonation of a hand grenade or a nuclear bomb. Both are bad, but only one is global in scale.

Big Has a “Get Out of Jail Free” Card
And too often, when Bigs get stupid, they get a pass. In 2012 the U.S. Justice Department found that HSBC, one of the world’s three largest banks, had “spent years committing serious crimes”, regularly laundering money for terrorists and drug cartels. But the Justice Department decided HSBC was “too important to subject them to disruptions”, and shielded them from any criminal prosecution.

Micro-solutions for Micro-problems
Another problem with Big is that it creates macro solutions for micro problems. Even with the best of intentions it is simply too big a task to ask macro-entities to solve local problems. The problem is not the systems, but the size of the systems; the size of business, size of government and the resulting accumulation of power and decision-making into those few hands.

The reason size is a problem is simple. The old adage is that “all politics is local.” The same is true for problems – “All problems are local.” Big never solves local problems.

Size Matters
Does small always work better than big? No. It is easy to find both local businesses and local governments that make self-preserving decisions that aren’t in the best interest of their constituency, just like the Bigs. But because they are small and local, the negative affects are never as damaging.

Returning to local government and local business for answers to our local problems would push as many decisions down the food chain as possible. This is difficult if not impossible for both national politicians and big business leaders to accept, because they would lose control over their own macro-power.

There is a place for both Big Business and Big Government, but experience says we would be better off, and certainly safer as a nation with less of both.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss why greed doesn’t drive Wall Street; it’s something much bigger.

This is a summary of a chapter from 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.

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.