The Three S’s Of The Industrial Age

Safety, Security, and Stability

My mother, who was born in 1921, grew up in the Great Depression and entered the workforce in 1943 after nurse’s training, taught me to pursue three things in life, the three S’s of the Industrial Age:

1) Safety – live in the suburbs, don’t live downtown with the icky people.

2) Security – have a big wad of cash in the bank.

3) Stability – every day should look the same, no surprises. Get a job with a giant corporation; they are the best prepared to give you a life with no surprises.

The Ozzie and Harriet Dream
Just about every mother of that generation was teaching their kids the same things. So it’s no surprise that at the height of the Industrial Age after World War II, the suburbs exploded with cookie cutter Cap Cods, white picket fences, men who all left for work in unison with their white shirts, ties, suits and briefcases at 7:30am and got home at 6pm, working for Giant Corporation, Inc., and living as predictable a life as possible. That cohort is called The Silent Generation.

Their manic pursuit of safety, security and stability made them the best extensions of machines in the history of the Industrial Age. It also dehumanized them to the point of silencing their voices, their creativity, and their legacy (remember, no Presidents and no Supreme Court justices came from this generation; the only generation without a number of them.) But where are these three S’s on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? They are at or nearer the bottom.

The Bottom Looks Pretty Good When It’s Above You
Why did my mother teach me to chase these things that were at or near the bottom of what we as humans need in life? Because having gone through the Great Depression and World War II, she was looking up at the bottom. She didn’t have any of the three, and a life with all three would have been Nirvana for her.

Straight the Fourth S
But Millennials who only grew up in the shadow of the Industrial Age do not understand the language of Safety, Security and Stability. They are one of the first generations in history, at least in the west, to be born with all three of those things provided for them at birth. They aren’t looking up at the bottom, and are instead reaching for the fourth S of the Participation Age, Significance. Making money is no longer enough. Being an extension of a machine to do so is not attractive, and the idea that every day should look the same and that life should be predictable and without surprises is not challenging to them. They want more.

It’s Simple, and Maybe Hard
And as the cultural influence of the Industrial Age and the Factory System fades behind us, we are all waking up to the need to re-humanize the workplace, reintegrate it back into our lives, and build lives to Make Meaning, not just money. To do so we must eliminate the arcane business practices that we dragged out of the Industrial Age into the Participation Age that turned men into machines and silenced our drive for significance. Addressing the business diseases of the Industrial Age is not complex; it’s simple. But for those who have built businesses and lives around the inherited constructs of a bygone era, it will be both simple and hard.

The Will To Chase Significance
If we recognize that we have inherited some of the business diseases of the Industrial Age, all we need is the will to change. But it needs to be a strong and determined will, because our past is a strong magnet and will pull us back in if we lack vigilance.

We should be grateful that the Industrial Age provided us with the first three S’s, Safety, Security, and Stability, on which to build the fourth S, Significance. But we must also recognize that the practices that brought us those three will not bring us the fourth. We have a choice to make. Stay with what we know and slowly atrophy as the world moves on without us, or join the Participation Age and start sharing together in building companies that Make Meaning, not just money.

Which do you choose?

You Can Be Small, and Also Be An Industrialist

Take the Test – Are You An Industrialist?

People think they despise Capitalists, but they’re actually angry at 21st century Industrialists. There are six major values and beliefs of the new Industrialist. You can be a new startup with no employees and get sideways out of the gate with these beliefs. Are you practicing any of the six?

Many of today’s companies, big and small, are simply Industrialists who forgot which century it is. Industrialism is not something that happened in the 1800s. It still dominates a majority of business practices today. Industrialist values can infect a business of any size. Take the test – see if you are an Industrialist.

Value #1 – Motivated to Be Big The number one value of an Industrialist is that they are more motivated by being big than by making a contribution to the world around them. They might talk about adding value, or creating and innovating, but the motivation for doing so would be – to be big. Do you want to create something that adds value to the world around you, or are you more motivated by using existing innovations simply to get big? Capitalists don’t try to be big, they try to be good. And big follows if big is what will help them be even better. If you’re driven by being big instead of being creative and innovative – even if you have no employees, you’re an Industrialist.

Value #2 – Closed Markets The famous Industrialists of the 1800s, did not believe in a Free Market. They believed in a market that would allow them, the elite, to control everything, at the cost of every other business owner’s freedom. The Industrialist’s goal was to destroy everyone else; to be the last man standing in a zero sum game of dog eat dog. Do you invite others into your industry or do you wish they’d stay out? If you’re not welcoming others in with open arms, you’re not about free markets, and you’re in Industrialist.

Value #3 – Resistance to Progress – Status Quo Industrialists are brilliant at creating efficiencies around their present product and their present position in the market. They are fanatically obsessed with squeezing the last dollar of profit out of the present market, and are very aware that the next great invention could likely destroy their power by simply refocusing the consumer on a newer, better product or service. Are you afraid somebody might come up with some new idea that could make your “legacy” system obsolete? If so, you are an Industrialist. Stop running scared and become the guy who creates what destroys your own legacy system.

Value #4 – Destroying Jobs – Industrialists get bigger by acquiring other companies, then stripping them of “redundant” people who the buyer already owns. Capitalists do it more by organic growth based on having been creative, innovative, introducing new products and adding value to their offering, which sells more product and requires that the grow and hire. Are you thinking you’ll grow your way to success by buying up other people’s creativity? If so, you’re an Industrialist. Instead, get creative and innovate your way to “Big”.

Value #5 – Be Users, Not Creators – The Cash Cow Rule
The thing Industrialists are best at is creating cash cows from other people’s inventions. They don’t look for opportunities to create, innovate and push the world forward. They look for a potential cash cow that can be controlled and spun up to great efficiencies, with bigger opportunities to dominate and be powerful. Besides using existing inventions rather than creating new ones, Industrialists also use people, local economies and resources. Are you using the innovation of others and other people to create a cash cow for yourself at the expense of the world around you? If so, you’re an Industrialist (and a really uncreative one at that).

Value #6 – Focus on the Competitor (Destroy, Mimic, or Buy)
Chris Peters, when he was head of Excel Development in the very early years wrote, “We didn’t write Excel to make money, we wrote it for the sheer joy of putting the largest computer software company out of business.” 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. Capitalists are so busy creating and innovating that they have very little time to worry about what the next guy is doing. Are you focused on creating something amazing for the world around you, or are you focused on mimicking, buying, or destroying the “competition”? If so, you’re an Industrialist.

Don’t fool yourself. Industrialists aren’t giant corporations, they are people who have the wrong view of the world around them. How a company starts their journey has a lot to do with their permanent DNA.

How are you starting your journey?

Six Steps To Hiring A Great Stakeholder

…and on the seventh step, they rested.

We’re 75% of the way through the process of hiring our Chief Connecting Officer (they’re too important to be called a sales person) and only now have we asked for resumes, what we call “tombstones”. We have six things we look at, in order, and looking at the resume early on is not one of them.

People only put on their resumes what makes them look great. Resumes, like tombstones, tell you almost nothing about the real person. If we had looked at tombstones first, we would have tossed out at least five of the seven candidates remaining, maybe all seven, and never looked at them. What a tragedy that would have been. These are great people and a great fit for our business.

Six Steps To The Right Person – In Order Of Importance
Step One – Culture. We hire first for culture. That is the number one criteria. We asked people to NOT send their resume and simply answer seven culture questions.

Doing this cuts down the response “noise” by 80%. Too many are looking for a job, but not for work (the Industrial Age taught them to do this – see this blog post). Answering questions resembles work. Most will just sling fancy tombstones at lazy companies who will hire them for their nicely engraved epitaphs. That’s a nice culture match, too, because the lazy companies who don’t want to do the hard work to hire someone, end up with the lazy applicants who don’t want to work. So everybody wins.

Step Two – Talent. For this position we prize the talent of being able to “connect” with someone quickly via phone or in a personal conversation, so our first talent assessment was a 10 minute phone call to see if they could connect with us. For a different position requiring different skills, we would do a different talent test. Culture and talent are not things you can teach someone. If they have these things, that’s a great foundation.

Step Three – Skills. We’ll take a person who has the intangibles (culture/talent) and teach them the tangibles (skills). This is the step at which we finally ask for their resume, and a list of references. We find their skills from a combination of the other steps above, their resume and their references.

Step Four – References. Never hire anyone for a sales position until you’ve talked to people that have actually bought from them. That is the best way to find out if their skill set is schmoozing, glad-handing, managing sales people, account management (a cousin to sales), or actually selling stuff. Find out what their references say about why they like them, and see if it matches with why you want to hire them. Again, they might have a list of very impressive skills, but if you’re hiring for something not on their list, don’t bite.

Step Five – Experience. Most people look at the resume first and sift for those with the most experience. Bad idea. The fifth thing we hire for is experience and we just don’t give it a lot of weight. Highly experienced people can actually be less likely to learn our particular business. We don’t ding them for it, but it’s not very important to us compared to culture, talent, skills and references.

Step Six – Personal Interviews. Very important. We’ll have the final three or so do 30-45 minute interviews with everyone they will work with in any way. We’ll also ask them to attend some events, then we’ll get feedback from attendees. We’ll also probably take the last couple out for happy hour or something on separate nights to see how we all relate away from the office (we don’t separate work and play). We will likely have them meet with a few existing clients as well and get their feedback.

Never Go To Step Seven!
Can you see something missing from the list? We NEVER hire for education. It’s about as good an indicator of success as what town you were born in. We just ignore education, but if someone makes a big deal out of theirs – that’s a warning sign for us. The more they like to trumpet their education, the more we’re pretty sure they won’t do real well in the trenches where you actually get dirty and learn the good stuff by getting beat up. It also tells us they’ve probably bought off on the lie that the more education you have, the more capable you’ll be, and the more money you will be worth, etc. All fairy tales.

Does This Sound Like Too Much Work?
If this whole process sounds like too much work for you, you need to look at your own culture. You get what you intend, not what you hope for. If you hope to get a great person by doing the traditional, lazy, sit-across-the-table conversation based on a tombstone, then don’t expect to get great people on board. I personally feel the same about farming this process out to someone else to do for you. Any HR pro should have you in the process up to your teeth; it’s your culture and company, not theirs. If you take the lazy traditional approach, you’re process will attract the lazy applicants who are slinging tombstones. Good luck with that.

The good news is we’ve got seven incredible people still in the running (and even some others we dropped earlier that would be great fits elsewhere). The bad news is we’ll have to pick one. The good news is we’ll have a bunch of people to refer to others looking for great sales people.

Anybody need some great sales people? In a few weeks we’ll have some to share. We’ll only share them with companies we already know that have great cultures.

It’s Good To Be The Big

And Big Wants To Be King.

If a bank was accused of thumbing their nose at regulators for years, systematically breaking the law and knowingly aiding terrorists, they would lose their license, right? Only if they were a small bank. The law doesn’t apply to the Bigs. If this wasn’t happening in America, you would believe these stories were coming out of some corrupt third world kleptocracy.

According to U.S. bank regulators, HSBC (the world’s second largest bank) “spent years committing serious crimes” by knowingly laundering money for terrorists and drug cartels. Regulators said these kinds of crimes should automatically have resulted in the loss of HSBC’s U.S. banking license.

But the bank will not face prosecution. A few weeks ago, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer told the press, “Had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the US, the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized.”

Smalls Need Not Apply (for special treatment)
But small banks live under a different judicial system. In November 2011, tiny SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah was put out of business for connections with Internet poker. In 2012, the Feds charged miniscule Abacas bank in Brooklyn with mortgage fraud, after the banks officers themselves proactively reported suspicious activity of one of their loan officers. No bank officers were involved in the problem, and Abacus’ mortgage loans are performing 10xs better the big banks. They’ve been forced out of business by the Feds.

Big Loves Big
One of the illusions is that big business is at odds with big government and vice versa, but more often they recognize the advantage of propping each other up, for the sake of keeping both Bigs large and in charge.

In late 2008, Big Government gifted $850 billion to a very few elite, giant banks without so much as an I.O.U. Free money with no strings attached. Big government said they had to do it because big banks were holding the government and the entire country hostage by virtue of being “too big to fail”. In 2009, the National Security Agency rated our own homegrown giant businesses as our top national security threat, above terrorism.

Let The Show Begin
So the Big politicians huffed and puffed and created Dodd-Frank to ensure they would never be too big to fail again. Within 18 months, those 15 or so giant banks that had been gifted the $850 billion now had a LARGER percentage of the banking industry then before Dodd-Frank. Who did that legislation actually destroy? You guessed it, the small banks.

The Smalls Get the Shaft
A recent report shows the Bigs are buying up the Smalls in 2013 at an accelerating clip. Jim Chessen, of the American Bankers Association, said, “We have seen an avalanche of new regulations, and while the impression was that the legislation was targeted at the largest institutions, the fact is that it’s had a widespread impact on the smallest banks in the country,” Dodd-Frank is making it easier for the Bigs to get bigger by eating the Smalls, who are the roadkill being crushed by the politicians.

This isn’t about banks. GM and decades of other giant failures in many industries have been bailed out of long-term, epically bad management practices, while the Smalls are crushed by big banks and big regulations.

Don’t kid yourself. No one is looking out for Small, regardless of what form it takes. Do you believe all the noise big business makes about hating regulations? (Hint: they help write them to make sure they come out like Dodd-Frank). Or are you a fan of the noise politicians on both sides of the aisle make about loving small business and reining in the Bigs? That rhetoric plays well on the news, and politicians know that most people just don’t check in later to see how it all worked out.

What Can You Do?
1) Stop choosing sides with one or the other of the Bigs. Neither big business or big government (on either side of the aisle) has your best interests at heart.
2) Stop believing them when they say, “we love small business”. They love using it.
3) Become a “Smallist”. There are now two classes of people in America. The Bigs and the Smalls. Those are the two choices left. Which one do you choose?
4) If you choose to be a Small, start demanding that big business and big government stop colluding with each other to get and be Big at the expense of Small.

“Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference never went to bed with a mosquito.” Mahatma Ghandi

Your voice matters. Make a difference. Become a Smallist.

The Participation Age

Are you?

We’re out of the Information Age and well into the Participation Age. It’s your time – are you participating?

In 2006 two of us were flown out to Silicon Valley to accept an award by Sun Microsystems for branding, messaging and design work. At this conference some Sun leaders and outside consultants were talking about the new “Age”, called the Participation Age. Quite a few other leaders and publications have used it as well, and I found it to be a compelling description for the new Age in which we find ourselves. The hallmark of the Participation Age is “sharing.”

You First. No, I Insist, You First.
The Participation Age has seen the organic and viral growth of a dizzying array of sharing systems; from weekend software projects tackled by people all over the world who don’t know each other, to co-creation of products and services by companies interacting directly with their customers, to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a myriad of other sharing platforms.

Linux, an open-source software operating system, owned by no one, runs the fastest computers in the world and tens of millions of cell phones. The development of Web 2.0 was based on sharing of information, services, products, knowledge and opinions to the point that companies don’t own their brand anymore; those who participate in sharing about it on the internet are the owners.

Small Is Now Big
United Airlines discovered this painfully when Dave Carroll wrote a song called “United Breaks Guitars” (they broke his) and posted it on the internet. Within a four days of the posting, it had received millions of hits and United’s stock value plunged $180 million. Before the Participation Age, companies like United regularly wrote off one badly treated customer at a time, knowing they had a limited reach. But now, one person’s shared view of the world has a power that it never had before. The Participation Age has made your small voice more powerful than any time in history.

We’ve also seen sharing create massed responses to a single person’s plight from all over the world, and the proliferation of crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding companies that help people in ways they could have never imagined.

Participating Through Work
The Participation Age has changed the way people relate to each other, but most importantly it is changing the way we relate to work, allowing us to go back to a more natural relationship to work that was dominant for thousands of years before the strange and interruptive blip in history we call the Industrial Age.

Past generations that grew up in the intimidating shadow of the Industrial Age were taught to react, respond and at times even to contribute, but not to participate and share. Participation demands that we be proactive and creative, which is our basic human nature. The Industrial Age did not want us being proactive and creative; it wanted us to be extensions of machines and loyal and almost indentured servants to the company (via the golden handcuffs of in-house retirement plans).

I Double-Dog Dare You
At our core, we are not made to be extensions of machines. We are made to Make Meaning, not just money, and the Participation Age, more than any time in human history is daring each and everyone of us to find our voice, be uniquely you or me, and encourage the world to participate in what each of us is building. Get after it; create, innovate, bring something unique to the world around you; share it and let others participate in making you and it better. How much fun is the Participation Age? It kicks the Industrial Age’s ass, for sure.

My next book will share a lot about our move to the Participation Age, and how too many companies are still stuck in the Industrial Age.

Share with us – what are you building?

What is Your Offer – Really?

It’s not your product or your service.

When people ask us “What do you do?”, one of the biggest mistakes we make is to actually tell them. Your offer should NEVER include what you do; they don’t want to know. Stop telling people what you do; you’ll make a lot more money.

What we’re selling is almost never what the customer is buying. NOBODY is buying vacuum cleaners, iPhone apps, houses, insurance, financial planning, or computer services; we just think they are.

When people ask you “What do you do?”, they’re just being polite. What they’re really asking is “What can you do FOR ME?” Nobody is buying your product or service. They are buying what it will do for them. We think we’re selling a product or a service, but if we get it right, we’ll stop selling all that junk and start selling an OUTCOME.

Sell an Outcome, Not a Product
Good offers focus solely on the OUTCOME you will get your potential customer. An OUTCOME is “result expressed emotionally”. It tells them the result, using words that connect with their deepest felt needs in that area. Charles Revson (founder of Revlon), said, “In our factory we make soap, but in the store we sell hope.” Charles Revson knows nobody wants to buy soap. He is not selling his craft (soap making). He is selling an outcome, hope that you will be more attractive.

You’re a Craftsperson; Get Over It
Most of us are craftspeople. We love what we do, and can’t help talking about it. Since we’re so infatuated with our craft, we actually think other people would want to know about it. The sooner you get over that, the better. As intriguing as it may be to you, nobody wants to buy computer repairs. They want computers that never break down. Don’t ever say, “We repair computers”. If they ask, “What do you do?”, tell them “We make sure your company can use computers without ever thinking about them.” Or “We keep computers running and ensure your information will never be lost.” I don’t want to buy computer repairs, but I’ll buy someone telling me my computers will never be in the way of me doing business.

You’re not a real estate agent – nobody cares. Instead, you sell a place to build dreams, an oasis for future memories, a safe haven. You’re not an insurance agent or a financial planner – nobody cares. You both sell security, peace of mind, financial stability, etc.

Sell Skiing, Not Marketing
Your offer is not your product or your service, it is the result you express emotionally – your OUTCOME. Everybody buys emotionally, even giant corporations. We once landed a $7 million contract because the two finalists were dead even in their products and services, but the other company was in Detroit and we were in Denver. It was a lot more enticing to the marketing folks to be traveling to Denver a number of times a year, so we got the contract. We were selling marketing services, and they were buying skiing. Going forward we always made sure we included some pics of skiing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing in our presentations.

What do you provide your customer that no one else provides? 30 minute pizza delivery? Domino’s didn’t make a pizza that was any better than anyone else’s, but went from one store to a national chain selling that outcome. Guaranteed arrival time for a plumber? One guy built a 40-truck plumbing business, not on saying he was a great plumber (who would say they are lousy?), but on giving guaranteed arrival times within 10 minutes or $50 off your bill.

One mortgage person figured out that they could absolutely guarantee that people would close on a certain date or 50% off their closing costs. They knew that 25% of those dates would be missed (he had very little control over the closing dates). The result was a 100% increase in business and a 75% increase in revenues. He figured out he wasn’t selling mortgages, but sold reliability instead.

Math + Emotion = Outcome
Sometimes all you have to do is a little math to be able to make an emotional offer that everyone else thinks is crazy. Dominos knew that a certain percentage would be past the 30 minute mark and they would not get paid. The mortgage broker did the math as well. We did the math in a call center we owned and decided to do all calls for $1.35 per call when the rest of the industry charged “$.22 per minute”. Clients loved it because they knew just about how many calls their customer’s made each month and could budget very closely for that. We didn’t sell call center services, we sold that you’ll know before hand what your call center costs will be every month.

Good offers are OUTCOMES – results expressed emotionally. Stop telling people what you do; they don’t care. Tell them what you will do FOR THEM, and in terms that connect to their deepest felt needs.

Outcome First, Then Product
So what do we at Crankset do? I always answer this way – “We 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.” There are three emotional results in that – 1) making more money in LESS time, 2) getting OFF the treadmill, and 3) making this fun and meaningful again. They still don’t know what I do, but if they like the outcomes we’ve presented, they’ll ask, “So how do you do that?” Now you can get all geeky about your craft, but not until you give them their OUTCOME.

Your Product is Just a Tool
Find an offer that answers “What will you do for me?” Know what they are really looking for from you. It is not your widget or your promise to fix widgets, or your ability to sell them a house, computers, insurance, etc. It’s your ability to meet deep felt needs. Your product or your service is just a tool for doing that.

Outcomes – results, expressed emotionally.

Take the Test; Are you an Employee or a Stakeholder?

(hint: employees drool)

We believe employees are always a bad idea, and that people at work should all be Stakeholders instead. Read through the side by side comparisons and see how see how you stack up as a Stakeholder or as an employee.

If you look at the above and say, “I can’t trust my company to compensate me like a stakeholder”, you’re in the wrong company. Leave and find one that rewards performance and results, not growing mold sitting in your chair. You’ll have a lot more fun.

If you’re an employer and you think it would be great to do have Stakeholders but most people aren’t like that, take a look at your own leadership style and/or your belief system. Most people actually want to make a contribution to the world around them and be adults. Are you letting them be, or are you assuming they can’t be adults? If you believe people are most likely to be employees, you’ll treat them that way and they will respond that way.

The Industrial Age is over. Stakeholders rule. Employees drool.

Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer Is Officially An Industrialist

Home Alone.

After I wrote my last post on why working 9-5 is a bad idea, I found out Yahoo’s CEO Mayer was killing telecommuting. It’s a classic failure of leadership and will get her the opposite result than she hopes.

This last week, Marissa Mayer ended telecommuting for all Yahoo employees. The few retro voices in the archaic wilderness trumpeting this move as “good”, say it will make Yahoo more “innovative” and “collaborative”. Uh…cubes. They’re being stuffed back into cubes.

More Productive?…No.
This definitely won’t make them more productive. All the data old and new confirms this. Until after 1850, the majority of all manufacturing and other productivity was done at home. Salary.com research shows people waste an average of 25% of their day in the office doing nothing. Other research shows that people in an office waste up to 50% of their time “managing up” (brown nosing). Telecommuting is proven to increase productivity.

More Innovative and Collaborative?…No.
And there is no data that suggests that putting people back in cubes makes them more innovative or collaborative. Mayer’s decision was lazy and lacked any innovation on her own part. There are a hundred better ways to make sure telecommuters are touching base in an innovative and collaborative way with each other and the company, but that would have taken some energy to figure out. Reintroducing the brass steam whistle and the time clock was much easier, but is a short-sighted decision.

Yahoo Employees Are Now Stupid and Lazy
But the worst reason for doing this is that it reinforces the traditional understanding of the “employee”. In 1903, Frederick Winslow Taylor wrote his views of work that became the foundation for Scientific Management theory, which governs our view of work today. He said there are two basic assumptions you must make about employees, 1) they are lazy (he called it soldiering – doing as little as possible to keep from being fired), and 2) they are stupid “the average employee is so stupid that they more nearly resemble the ox than any other type.”

If employees are stupid and lazy (a view not common until well after the 1850s and convenient for Industrialists to believe as they treated them like indentured servants), than you need smart and motivated people to manage them – thus the modern separation between “employees” (stupid and lazy), and “management” (smart and motivated).

Mayer Is An Industrialist
Mayer’s move is a confirmation that she is a modern Industrialist (click to see my post defining this), and believes her people are definitely lazy, and almost certainly stupid (can’t figure out how to be productive on their own). But the problem isn’t with her employees; it’s with her leadership. Great leaders inspire and motivate people to be owners or “Stakeholders”; self-managed and proactive adults who take ownership of their jobs and the company’s future, and are consistently creative and innovative, always working to make the whole “system” better.

Mayer lacks leadership. She can’t inspire and motivate adults, so she has gone to the fetal position of Industrialism, requiring that all the stupid and lazy children now check themselves into the day care center that is the office so that managers can keep them from running into the street or messing on the carpets.

The Opposite Result
Yahoo needs engaged Stakeholders – adults who can work with her to pull Yahoo out of the morass. Instead she is creating employees – children who will be managed and told what to do. Innovative and collaborative, my eye.

A classic failure of leadership, made worse because her actions blame the Stakeholders for her own lack of vision. This is nothing more than calling all the elephants to the graveyard for Yahoo’s last rites.

9-5; A Business Disease of the Industrial Age

Get done. Go home.

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.

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.

How to Stop Managing & Be Productive Instead

Toddlers, teens or adults?

We’ve already said WHY Management Is a Bad Idea. Here we identify HOW to stop managing so you and everyone else is more productive.

The art of leadership is to know how few times the leader should actually make the decision.

Managers make decisions. Leaders get others to do it as often as they can because none of us is as smart as all of us.

We could virtually do away with managers if they would just lead instead. I believe we could replace at least every five managers with one leader, and possibly ten to one in many businesses. 15 of the top 20 reasons people leave their job involves middle managers. Think how much more profitable (and fun) it would be to eliminate middle management all together.

Modern management is traced back to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management Principle from 1903 and 1911, that assumes employees are a) stupid and b) lazy, and therefore we need smart and motivated people to manage the stupid and lazy ones. In a good business you don’t need managers because the leader doesn’t believe people are stupid and lazy.

Leaders get out of the way. Here’s how to move from managing to leading. As you are having a conversation with a Stakeholder, ask yourself these questions, which move from Problem through Question to Solution:

Chasing Three Years Olds Around the Store – Did I have to come find out they had a PROBLEM? That’s the lowest level of management – running around finding out other people’s problems. If you do that, you have a bunch of toddlers working for you, and you’re the one who made them that way by chasing them around. Stop it.

Managing Eight Year Olds – Did they come find me with a PROBLEM? Not much better. Children come whining to their parents that Johnny hit them. You’ve trained them to do it. Stop it.

Managing 13 Year Olds – Did I have to figure out the right QUESTION? Asking the right question is 90% of getting the right answer. Anybody can identify problems, but if they aren’t asking the right questions to fix them, they aren’t adding much value. If you have to form the right questions, you’re not leading, you’re managing. Stop it and get others to form the questions.

Manager High Schoolers – Did they bring me the right QUESTION with no solution? You’ve taught others to not think; you’re the only one bright enough to solve things. Require that they come up with solutions.

Managing College Kids – Did they bring some possible SOLUTIONS for me to pick from? We’re getting there, but still you’ve taught them to not take risks and actually solve things. They’re afraid to fix things because you’ve taught them only you can do it, because you’re more experienced and less likely to do something stupid. You forget that you had to make mistakes. If you are ever going to have someone else in your business that can lighten the load, they need to take risks and make mistakes, too. Stop being a control freak and teach others to lead by letting them solve problems WITHOUT YOU.

Managing Adults – Did they bring me a report on how they SOLVED something? Guess what, you’re a leader. You can now focus on the business of building a great business instead of creating stupid and lazy people by all your managing.

Moving From Manager to Leader
You should be asking these questions every time you talk to someone, with the objective of getting to “Managing Adults” as quickly as possible (might take a year or more, depending on how long you’ve been chasing the toddlers).

If you want to run a day care center, it’s your option. People aren’t stupid and lazy and they aren’t children. You make them that way by managing them. Stop it. And if some of them decide to not grow up, kick them out of the house and get others who will be adults. You’ll all have a lot more fun, and make a lot more money – with no managers.

You should lead no matter what the size of your business.