personal thoughts on HBR’s “Best Workplace on Earth”; #hbr #pragmatism #realism

HBR’s Article “Creating the Best Workplace on Earth” by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones ( has been trending in my Twitter network over the past couple of days. Today I took myself the time to read it and I somehow feel like “I have to say something”. Since I am not smart enough to do that in 140 characters I’ve decided to dedicate a blog post to it – and feature it through channel 140…

The article itself is referring to common sense quite a lot. However, I am asking myself how much common sense today’s combination of economy and society actually allows. There are a lot of good examples of large organisations that have fundamentally changed how things go and people are treated. Nevertheless the majority of our economy is driven by the root of all evil:

Shareholder Value

Were it human shareholders that would have a substantial interest in securing long term stability and profit for companies we would be better off than we are today. Too much corporate value is owned by virtual constructs in which the actual human factor of value contribution and the awareness of “it’s a company, not a sponge” simply get’s lost. Increasing personal wealth by outsourcing the nasty work to the stock market mechanism is simply not a good foundation for sustainable thinking on the other end of the food chain.

It’s an easy thing to say that we should provide authenticity, sense, transparency and freedom.

I’ve learned myself over the past 10 years that it’s not that easy. Due to the abstraction of steering mechanisms the amount if Excel-based steering increases the higher in the hierarchy you get (yes, yes…flat hierarchies…I know). That fades away as soon as you enter the C-suite. So for them it’s easy to preach forward looking thinking. At the end of the day it’s the middle management that “screws up”. They are the ones (like the stock market mechanisms) that have to do the “dirty work”. Because even the most forward looking company has to achieve the goals committed to in the latest quarterly forecast (or crystal ball report as I love to call it).

If we don’t want the good examples to be rare and outstanding – which they can only be if it’s different enough from the common world – we have to substantially change the way our economy works… It’s a little bit like the criticism of today’s food industry (seriously…the words don’t even go together). As long as everyone in the first world is expecting cheap meat (or any kind of food) on the table every single day, independent from season or geography, we’re just begging for scandals and things we didn’t want to find on our plates…

But maybe that’s as naive as asking for a replacement of corporate social media policies by five simple demands:

Social Media Demandments

Published by Philipp

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