Thursday, December 15, 2005

Corporate Communism

If you work for a large corporation, you'll probably have a good understanding what it's like to live in a communist/fascist government, but mostly at work. Instead of the government controlling you, your job/company/business does. If you're an employee, the company can dictate every move you make, so long as it's within the law (which the companies have done a decent job of controlling). While this whole idea seem horrible, under a benevolent dictator, it's concept that works well.

In order for a business to get the job done, it must have a system. Michael Gerber discusses this in his book and company called The E-Myth. While I disagree with some of Gerbers philosophy, for the most part he's right. There is this one part where he has the owner go throughout the Key Frustrations process. Problem with that is; a business isn't suppose to be your anxiety treatment.

For any particular duty in a business, any process, any service, there needs to be a system. A system to deal with customers. A system to deal with vendors. A system to deal with employees. As Gerber loves to say, "You manage systems, not employees." This is correct, to some degree. Some business owners take this too literally, and forget that while you don't' have to manage employees and people, you still have to deal with them.

The point about systems; good systems make the business successful. Bad systems run the business into the ground. Even when a business or organization doesn't intentionally create a system to accomplish something, it's still using a systems, possibly an unintentional one. Probably a bad one.

Good systems come from successful practices. Successful practices come from good ingenuity. Good ingenuity comes from good judgment. Good judgment usually comes from the experience of bad judgment. Good judgment can come from the base of good character, but that seems rare in this day-in-age.

When a business has problems, it usually has problems with it's systems, not it's employees. Bottlenecks in the flow of business are the first place to examine a bad system. If customers aren't buying, a new sales system needs to be in place. If customers aren't coming in the door, a new advertising/marketing system needs to be created. If an employee doesn't seem to be doing his job right, it's the system the employee is using that's the problem, not the employee. If the employee follows a system that's not created by the company, he will make up his own, if needed. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, especially if the employee is trying an intentionally created system. If he's not following any particular system, the employee is doom to failure, and the failure isn't his fault. Unless the company provided the system, and the employee chose not to follow it.

If an employee decides to buck the system, whatever the employee does needs to have a reason, purpose, and procedure. The employee just might create a better system.

The benevolent dictator role is important for the company. He provides leadership. He is a leader that people want to follow. He is a leader that demonstrates the systems, if needed. The benevolent dictator can be the owner of a company, the CEO, or even the stockholders to some degree, but it's usually a manager.

The manager job is to help and assist the employees with following systems and procedures.

Now, here's the weird part; How is the whole idea much different that soviet style governement? With systems, the employee has to do very little thinking, other than remembering the system. Employees can master the systems, behaving just the way the company wanted. Such a company actually works well. Such a company can be successful.

Did we defeat soviet communism, only to run headlong into it in our workplaces?

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