By now, every reasonably well-informed, thoughtful adult realizes that we are in unprecedented times – and that the future of America is in jeopardy.
In case you’ve missed it, here’s a bullet list of some of the currents moving through our culture that are merging to create an incredibly turbulent, dangerous environment:
- An unprecedented pace of change
- Growing complexity in almost every area of our lives
- Constant pressures on time
- A growing influence of social media
- The death of objective journalism
- A deluge of distractions
- Growing penchant for emotional, mob-based decisions
- A lack of adherence to rational thinking and proven processes
- Rejection of traditional institutions
- A growing sense of entitlement at every level
- A disregard toward personal responsibility
- A growing disdain for the rule of law
It may be that you look at these trends and don’t see any danger in them. If so, this article is probably not for you. But, if you agree that it is a mess of Biblical proportions, then the question immediately goes to solutions: What should we do?
What Can We Do?
One classic response is to “be the change we want to see in the world.” While this is timeless wisdom and is just as true today as in previous generations, our unprecedented mess calls us to be more proactive than just attending to our own families and lives.
We all understand that a small group or a team can be more effective and have greater influence than just one person. Whereas one person can certainly make a difference to those around him/her, a group of people working in concert can have a disproportionately larger impact. So, banding together with like-minded people seems more effective. But, what if, instead of considering forming a new group to promote things like rationality and respect for one another, we utilized the groups that were already there?
Most of us are already a part of a group that values rational thinking and real relationships – that group is assembled in the businesses we lead and work within. What if significant businesses could lead the way to restore a calmer, fairer, more rational culture? And the turbulent waters enveloping us are broad and deep, and so we need to be more strategic and more intent on multiplying the effectiveness of our proactive efforts. Big problems require big solutions. So, if we are going to create any serious impact, we need to join together with others in a group dedicated to promoting things like rationality and respect for one another.
But what if we already belonged to such a group? Most of us are already a part of a group that values rational thinking and real relationships – that group is assembled in the businesses we lead and work within. What if significant businesses could lead the way to restore a calmer, fairer, more rational culture?
Businesses are groups of people who already work together, have much in common, and exhibit many of the qualities we desire for the culture at large. It’s a natural fit.
Businesses are Uniquely Positioned
Businesses are uniquely positioned to lead the push for a calmer, fairer, and more rational culture. Here’s why…
1. Influence on lots of real people.
Next to one’s family, there is probably no entity that has a greater influence on each of us than our employers. We spend at least 40 hours a week under the influence of them and can’t help but pick up some of the attitudes and concepts bantered around. From an executive’s point of view, other than our families, there is no other group over whom we exert more influence than our employees and stakeholders.
2. A place where dialogue is still respected.
While you may be able to get away with jumping to conclusions and reacting loudly and emotionally in social media, that behavior won’t ingratiate you to your employers or your customers. It will more likely be the cause of you finding a different employer. While social media encourages thoughtless reactions, businesses can’t tolerate it.
3. An environment where rational thinking is still valued.
Good thinking gets better results in business, and the best companies have institutionalized thinking skills and rational processes. Jump to a conclusion without any evidence, which may be standard procedure on social media, and you’ll be challenged and reprimanded in your employment.
4. An environment that fosters real relationships.
It is one thing to pass recipes back and forth with social media friends and it is quite another to work with someone for hours each week. Working as a team fosters real relationships.
5. The ability to harness energy and activity toward a mutually accepted goal.
That is what businesses do to survive and thrive. So, the process and practices are already existent and at play in most businesses.
6. A mechanism to prevent drifting too far from the mainstream – profits.
While there may be few constraints on the extremist college professor, the twisted journalist, or the 20-something ‘influencer,’ the necessity to make a profit ensures a level of practical accountability for most businesses and the people they employ. Get too radical and your bottom line will suffer.
There may be other characteristics of the typical business to add to this list, but combine just the factors described above, and you’ll conclude that businesses have the potential to be effective forces for a more positive cultural environment.
But how would that work?