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.

9-5; A Business Disease of the Industrial Age

Day 7 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

Work is good. It adds meaning to our lives. But work that is done from 9am-5pm is almost antithetical to our natural understanding of work. Mary Paul’s account below sheds light on a broken history of rigid work hours.

Dear Father,
I received your letter on Thursday the 14th with much pleasure. I am well, which is one comfort. My life and health are spared while others are cut off. Last Thursday one girl fell down and broke her neck, which caused instant death. She was going in or coming out of the mill and slipped down, it being very icy. The same day a man was killed by the [railroad] cars. Another had nearly all of his ribs broken. Another was nearly killed by falling down and having a bale of cotton fall on him. Last Tuesday we were paid. In all I had six dollars and sixty cents. I paid $4.68 of it for board. With the rest I got me a pair of rubbers and a pair of 50 cent shoes. Next payment I am to have a dollar a week beside my board… I think that the factory is the best place for me and if any girl wants employment, I advise them to come to Lowell.

-Excerpt from a Letter by Mary Paul, Lowell, Massachusetts “mill girl”, Age 16, December 21, 1845.

As with all the business diseases of the Industrial Age, working with ceaseless regularity and rigid hours is a very new thing in the history of man. It first got started in textile mills in the 1790s. In 1845, Mary Paul had to report at 5am, got thirty minutes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and got off at 7pm. She didn’t have to work Sundays. She had the good deal – the English textile mills indentured thousands of orphan children for no pay, from 1784 to 1847.

A Very New Thing
But even as late as 1850, the majority of manufacturing and other work was being done at home, not at places of business. However, when machines started to take over parts of the production, they needed people to run them and it was easier to move the people to where the machines were than to move the machines – the workplace was born.

And the machines wanted to run 24 hours a day, but weren’t very good at adapting to human biorhythms and cycles, either. So the humans adapted to the machine’s need to run 24 hours a day, and started showing up at the workplace in shifts to take turns running the machine – the rigid workday schedule with a whistle on both ends was born – a Time-Based system of work.

Results vs. Time
In the preindustrial world, the most important factor was the individual’s dedication to accomplishing the task, or a Results-Based system of work. The modern system, with it’s roots in the Industrial Age, simply rewards being in a certain place and doing minimal work until the clock runs out – Time-Based.

This all came from what Max Weber coined as “the Protestant Work Ethic” which laid a nice foundation for creating the Factory System in the 1800s, because two of its four foundational beliefs were 1) punctuality and 2) the primacy of the workplace in life.

But what the Industrialists conveniently forgot is that the Protestant work ethic also taught that by hard work the individual could be master of their own fate. When we worked for ourselves on farms, in workshops and stores, this was true. But the Factory System violated this tenet of the Protestant ethic and demanded harder work for even less freedom. In the Factory System you were no longer master of your fate no matter how productive you were. That shows up in today’s workforce.

Work Less, Accomplish More
In a 2008 survey called Wasting Time at Work, Salary.com showed that the average employee wastes more than 25% of their workday, or 2.09 hours a day, excluding lunch and scheduled breaks, doing nothing. Why? Because we set up a system that grades them on time spent in the office, not on productivity. It’s a system of mistrust based on management’s belief that employees are lazy. And this research shows they are living up to our worst expectations of them.

Management makes people lazy. Expect more of them as Stakeholders and they will raise their game or leave. The Nine to Five “car in the parking lot” mindset is the root of many of the dumbest practices in business.

Time is the New Money
The lesson here is simple – give people clear deadlines for when things should be done, with the incentive that if they can get it done without you looking over their shoulder, they can have a much more flexible work life for achieving it. If someone gets their work done by 2pm, they should go home and play with their kids. If they are Stakeholders, they will be even more productive going forward. If they are employees, they will abuse this a couple times and you will move them along to find a day care center where they can be children. And doing so will ensure that everyone gets the message they have to be self-managed adults.

The Industrial Age was an interruption in our age-old commitment to accomplishing the task in the shortest time possible, and instead promoted the idea that people are inherently lazy and need to be clocked. The faster we get back to our preindustrial Results-Based system of work, the more productive we will be as a society.

Get your work done and go home.

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 Managers Are Always a Bad Idea

Day 6 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea

Managers are a business disease of the Industrial Age. They’ve only been around for about 110 years, but should go away as quickly as possible. Few things are as disruptive, unhelpful and unproductive in the workplace as managers. And the premise for needing them is epically bad.

We expect people to act like adults in society, as our next door neighbors, at a restaurant, in the grocery store, or at the recreation center. But if they work for us, we herd them into the office Day Care Center and manage them like they are nine years old. We tell them when school starts, when they can take recess, when lunch starts and ends, and we hover over them and manage every minute of their day as if they had no self-control, discipline or dignity at all. It’s just nuts. But it all makes sense if you trace the origins of managers back to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s foundational “Shop Management” paper from 1903.

Peter Drucker said Taylor was as much impact on the 20th century as Marx, Darwin, and Freud. Taylor asserted that all employees are “stupid and lazy”. He said there was only one solution; find people who are smart and motivated to make them less stupid and less lazy. And modern management was born.

Managers are the principal carriers of most of the business diseases of the Industrial Age and the continuing presence of Industrial Age business practices in the 21st century. More than any other position in a company, the manager is the embodiment of the almost all of the core attributes of an Industrialist:

1) They build fiefdoms

2) They believe in closed markets (try to take some budget, an employee or a process away from them to make another department bigger),

3) They resist progress and are committed to the status quo – new ideas/technology that threaten the size of their fiefdom are not welcome

4) They are Users (of people, budget, technology and infrastructure to create Cash Cows to meet existing quotes. Creating things usually requires change, and threatens their fiefdom.

5) The focus on the Competitor – Other departments are viewed as competitors for the budget, praise and perceived value to the company.

6) They are committed to Short-term Decision-making – An Industrialist will mortgage the future of the company to make the shareholders happy today. A manager will do the very same thing to make the boss one level above them happy today.

Replace Managers With Leaders (a lot fewer of them)

If you want to build a culture of participation, creation, innovation and sharing that builds successful companies, managers have to go. They should be replaced with leaders, and a lot less of them.

Leaders create vision and give general guidance and direction. They train, and provide infrastructure, but then they also do what they are asking others to do. Manager’s focus on making others productive. Leader’s focus on their own productivity, and inspire others to be more productive by their example.

Manage Stuff, Lead People

The fundamental flaw in the “manager as solution” mindset is that people need to be managed. They don’t. They need to be led, and the difference is not semantic, it is gigantic.

The simple principle is this: manage stuff; lead people. When people are extensions of machines, they are “stuff” to be managed. But if they are fully human, they require leadership instead.

In our company, we only manage stuff, like processes, systems, delivery of goods and services, accounting, marketing, sales, etc. These are all “things” to be managed, and everyone in the business manages stuff. We don’t need someone with the title of “manager” to hover over any of us to ensure the stuff will get managed. The people manage the stuff, and we lead the people.

Stuff definitely needs to be managed. It is inherently stupid and lazy. It needs to be told what to do; it doesn’t have a brain of its own or any motivation to assemble itself. People just need to be led – give them a vision of what needs to be done and get out of the way.

Management MAKES people lazy.

Some (very few) people are truly lazy. But most employees are wishing they could be Stakeholders, and are simply raising themselves to our lowest expectation of them. Micro management is dehumanizing, strips people of their dignity, and makes them work at the lowest level that will go unpunished, because that’s exactly what we’re asking them to do. Management MAKES otherwise motivated people, lazy.

Management MAKES people stupid.

If we believe people are not as smart as we are, we micro-manage them and strip them of the ability to create, solve problems, lead, initiate and take ownership. But all we do in the process is make them stupid.

Employees are not stupid, they just live down to our lowest expectations of them. If we treat them like smart and motivated Stakeholders, we’ll see a whole different side of them.
Management MAKES people stupid.

LCD Management Demotivates Stakeholders

Stop doing LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) Management.

Management many times is the great leveler – taking the wind out of the top performers to ensure the few lazy ones work harder. If managers got out of the way, they would find out that most people are not lazy. If you build an environment to manage lazy people, your Stakeholders will leave.

The Manager is Dead, Long Live the Leader

Managers will not be tolerated in the Participation Age. To achieve escape velocity from the Industrial Age, companies will need to dump the manager role, and replace it with one-tenth as many leaders. All they are doing is making people stupid and lazy by endless meetings, reports, conference calls, and other devices designed to make them look like they are adding value.

The Industrial Age is over – Stop managing people into being stupid and lazy who are otherwise already smart and motivated. Replace your managers with a lot fewer leaders and watch your company grow.

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.

Greed Doesn’t Drive Wall Street

Day 3 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book.

Greed did not drive the giant Industrialists of the 1800s, nor does it drive companies we love to hate on Wall Street today. It’s something quite different.

As with all empire builders who passed before them, it is about power; money is just a new measure of power. In the Industrial Age, for the first time in history, you could build a fiefdom alongside a government that would not send armies to destroy you, but actually protect your right to do so.

Power To The Few
There is little doubt that most of the big Industrialists, when they were still small, likely ignored some moral or ethical boundaries to begin to accumulate wealth. Greed drives them at first, but once they have experienced wealth, the desire to be powerful is the unique and much rarer driving force behind those few people who want to dominate and crush the competition.

Bernie Madoff may have been greedy when he was a bit player on Wall Street, but very shortly it became about being powerful, well known, and highly influential in elite circles. Giant banks may start out focused on accumulating wealth, but that is quickly replaced with a focus on power and domination. After someone has significantly more than they need, it becomes about power. And power requires winning, beating the other guy.

Kings and Kingpins
The basic motivations of feudal lords, politicians and 21st century Industrialists are identical. For all of them the most intoxicating motivation is to be able to control the lives of other people, which gives them power, control, and prestige. The feudal lord accumulates armies, the politician accumulates votes and the Industrialist accumulates money, all with the same motive – domination of their respective worlds and elimination of potential threats.

Cornelius Vanderbilt was a feudal lord ruling over a fiefdom. He was so powerful he was able to destroy the entire railroad industry by shutting down the Albany bridge, the only rail bridge into New York City, which he owned. Winning at all costs, and the power that came from being on top, was the intoxicating way of life for the Industrialist. And it still is for many business people and politicians who make up the 21st century version of the Industrialist.

Sumner Redstone, the American media magnate, summed up the motivation of the 21st century Industrialists we love to hate, “They don’t think in terms of money, they think in terms of winning. Not some times. Every time.”

You see the same transition from greed to power in criminals. Small criminals may be greedy, but big criminals are motivated by power. When the Colombian super-cartel was broken up in 2012, the top three leaders, who were worth hundreds of millions each, were all found living in modest city apartments, working out of cafes, driving regular cars, and essentially living regular middle class lives. Living modestly was what made it hard to find them. When asked why they had continued selling drugs for so many years when they couldn’t spend the money, one of them replied simply, “It was for the power.”

Power Through Philanthropy
Virtually all of the big Industrialists of the 1800s gave away staggering sums of money in their later years. But even in their philanthropy they sought to crush the other guy and build a bigger library, concert hall or museum. If they were driven by greed they would have kept their money. But a building with their name on it would continue to give them prestige and a form of power even after death, and help prove to future generations that they won. That was worth more than money in the bank. Power always trumps greed.

Which Big Do You Love?
Big loves big. They have to. Big government and big business may not be fully in synch, but they are co-dependent and DO love key things about each other that will help them both remain in power. Most people find themselves rooting for one Big or the other, without realizing that decades ago both Bigs lost touch with everything small and local.

In the final analysis, both Bigs have a cozy, symbiotic relationship where donations, cronyism, favors, free trips, power, and money are flying in both directions regardless of party affiliation. They understand clearly how much they need each other in order to stay in power.

Small Is Becoming Powerful
But Big is in trouble. The Participation Age, and the ability to share information easily via the internet, is exposing the power-grabbing practices of the Bigs, at a time where returning to small and local community is becoming one of our highest values. In the coming decade, Big will be less and less necessary in our lives, and the advantage will go to the small and local businesses that are in touch with the “small” guy on the street.

Stop Rooting for the Bigs
But we will accelerate the process when we stop whining about the greed of the Bigs, and focus instead on requiring a level playing field that does not concentrate power in the hands of a few and does not favor the Bigs over the Smalls.

Do you love one Big (business or government) more than the other, because you think it will be better for you? Think again. The Bigs aren’t working to help the Smalls, but to continue to increase their own power.

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 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.