Humanology vs Technology
After last week’s blog that outlined the case of humanocracy vs bureaucracy, a key factor in our ability to adapt, lies in our ability to tap into the imagination and creativity to help solve new problems that have arisen in response to COVID-19. Where once it appeared inevitable that our future was written in tune with the rise of robots, AI and automation I can see a new script where we create a workplace that will thrive when we unleash the initiative and ingenuity of everyone at work. If that’s the sort of organization you want to work for, we invite you to start right here, right now, with Humanology.
Bill Taylor and Polly Labarre explored in Mavericks at Work this very question. In particular, companies that were built, or in some cases rebuilt, with one goal in mind—to maximize human contribution. How amazing would it be if all these things were true where you work? Amazing enough, that work would hardly feel like work. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most employees. The typical medium or large scale organization infantilizes employees, enforces dull conformity, and discourages entrepreneurship; it wedges people into narrow roles, stymies personal growth, and treats human beings as mere resources. What if we could create organisations as amazing as the humans who inhabit it?
One of our primary goals should be to lay out a blueprint for turning every job into a good job. Rather than deskilling work, we need to up-skill employees. Rather than outsourcing low value jobs, we need to increase the creative content of every role. Instead of assuming that middleclass jobs must ultimately fall to globalization and automation, we need to redesign work environments so they elicit the everyday genius of every human being. While there may be a finite number of routine tasks to be performed in the world, there’s no limit on the number of worthwhile problems that are begging to be solved. Viewed from this vantage point, the threat that automation poses for employment depends mostly on whether or not we continue to treat employees like robots.
The shift to humanology won’t be easy. Consider that in Gallup’s 2019 Great Jobs Demonstration survey, barely a third of US employees strongly agreed with the statement: “I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”Less than a quarter said they were expected to be innovative in their job and only one in five felt their opinions mattered at work. Given data like this, it’s not a stretch to argue that many organizations waste more human capacity than they use.
There are practical, philosophical, and political barriers to redressing this lamentable reality. Yet if COVID has taught us anything it is that humans are resilient, innovative and capable of solving problems that technology by itself cannot. To move from diagnosis to action, you’ll need to believe there’s an alternative to the status quo—that the idea of a human centric organization isn’t some utopian fantasy. In my time working with some amazing organisations I’ve been blessed to work with an amazing group of organizational buccaneers. They’ve taught me that with courage, compassion and contrarian thinking, anyone can launch a campaign aimed at creating a workplace that’s 100% human and 0% bureaucracy. So if you’re ready to build an organization that’s fully capable and fully human, I invite you to get started now, with Humanology.