Most of us are brought up to be dependent – on other’s approval, on “experts”, and to needing permission.
In the industrial era, it made sense, hierarchies were effective means of command and control, and compliance meant the difference between earning a living, or not.
As technology and social structures changed, we moved towards greater independence, often with money at the heart of it. Lifelong employment disappeared, and with it notions of loyalty and duty towards an employer, to be replaced by independence for those who had marketable skills, or independent means. It gave us a sort of lonely freedom – not being governed, but without the work community that often provides support and meaning.
The most successful are now moving beyond this to interdependence – retaining all the options of independence, but choosing communities and “tribes” of those they choose to share their work and lives with. I work with a lot of fast growing businesses, and this feature – an interdependence with colleagues and clients – is a very visible feature. It gives them purpose, adaptability, flexibility and huge capability and attractiveness.
Many established organisations, and most of government, has not yet understood this. They pay lip service to it without understanding its implications. A dangerous place to be complacent. Those centralised institutions, from Head Office to Westminster, are becoming less and less important to those with the talent to create the future.
Adam Lent has written an excellent blog on the RSA site, which examines what 21st Century organisations might look like. In my view, worth the five minutes it will take to read.
The future is arriving faster than you think, whether you’re ready or not.
It offers immense opportunity, but won’t ask permission.