Culture Shock – Will McInnes Envisions Truly Meaningful Work

The power of meaningful work is  topic we have been writing on for years. When Culture Shock was released, we were more than intrigued.

Culture Shock: A Handbook for 21st Century Business is a fascinating read from Will McInnes.

McInnes provides an insightful and helpful guide to leaders who are challenged by today’s turbulent environment. Exploring the concept of the “social business”, he covers a breadth of topics relevant to leadership in the 21st Century, including “purpose and meaning”, “conscious leadership”, “change velocity”, and “fair finances”.

We were intrigued by his section on “democracy and empowerment”, in which he paints an interesting vision for more meaningful, and successful, workplaces.

“The very idea of ‘democracy’ (did you just say DEMOCRACY?) at work is seen as subversive, ‘participation’ is seen as a nice-to-have, whilst collaboration is increasingly an empty buzzword, thanks to technology vendors banging on endlessly about how their system will enhance collaboration.”

So why do these new, more social businesses establish alternative, and seemingly subversive, democratic approaches to decision making? This is hippie stuff, right? ‘So you all sit around in a big circle every time you want to make a decision?’ Cue roll of eyes. Love it!

“The simple answer is: because it makes sense. Business-sense. Society-sense. People-sense. And in five or ten years’ time, this is going to be mainstream. (It is already becoming so, and rapidly.) And by then, the window of opportunity and advantage for the courageous and the ‘irrational’ – that’s you, I hope – will have passed. Now is the time!”

He also writes about something that is dear to our hearts. We may call it a Purpose Beyond Profit, but our intent is the same as McInnes’ “Dream/Benefits” thinking:

“The Dream is the vision, the higher ground that you’re aiming for, the golden-sunshine-infused meadow where life is good and the butterflies flit happily from flower to flower. Life is good here! This is the emotional half of the message, appealing to the right side of the brain and the heart. The Benefits are the benefits! The positive outcomes that will flow from democracy at work. To find these, you need to locate concrete, tangible answers to the question ‘what’s in this for me/us?’ They need to be business-oriented, measurable and designed to appeal to the most sceptical, reluctant people in your organization. This is the factual half of the message, appealing to the left side of the brain.”

Finally, McInnes reminds us that it isn’t simply a matter of writing down your dream and its benefits. You need to help people put it into action, so that the experience of living the dream and experiencing the benefits become real, tangible and gratifying to the employees:

“Later, you have a much more powerful lever than the Dream and the Benefits – which is the energy and commitment generated by people proposing and then seeing through decisions, from participating in major decisions and having their say. That’s the super-powerful-magic-fairy-dust – a truly unstoppable and un-fakeable force. At this point the whole idea of democracy at work becomes a powerful reality and not just a pipedream, but first you have to get them to this point.”

Leadership is hard, particularly when the world is changing in fast and furious ways.

Through Culture Shock, Will McInnes gives leaders smart ways to not only keep up with it all, but to thrive through meaningful business practices and brand strategy.

To download our White Paper on Purpose Beyond Profit, please click the download button below.

Download White Paper

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.

To read more about creating meaningful work through company culture: Why have a Purpose Beyond Profit

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