“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”

 

From Guy Kawasaki’s G+ Post. Click to see original.

 

These words are from General George Patton.

And I love them.

Lead me to a new way of working.  For the current way is draining me.  And I refused to be drained any more.  There is a better way and I plan to follow you there.  But if you don’t lead me…

Follow me.  Because I intend to get there and take everyone that I can with me.  Why? Because it energizes me. And the more that can follow me there, the better.  The Law of Scarcity does not apply where I am going.  There is enough for everyone.

To those that will follow: be warned.  The road will not be easy.  It will be risky.  We don’t know the exact path to take.  We are forging a new trail.  We may go down one route and learn that it leads to a cliff.  Then we will turn around, retrace some steps and find another way.  It will be tiresome.  Exhausting mentally, physically, politically. But it will be the ride of your life.  And when we have created this new place it will be exhilarating.

And to those who will try to stop us – you know who you are.  To those who will say that we are crazy for trying something new.  That we can never change the way we work.  That the Future of Work is a pipe dream.  That we are spending our energies chasing something too big to tackle.

To them I say, I’m sad for you.  You have given in. You have been sucked in to believe that there won’t be a better way in our lifetime.  But there will be.  And I intend to get there.

I have no doubt that what we are creating is monumental.  It will make all the difference in your working life.  In your real life.  And if not in yours, than I am doing this for your children.

So, walk with me.  And if you can’t walk where I will walk,

Get out of my way.

 

 

Amazon Nails the Future of Work Paradox

Photo by goXunuReviews on Flickr.com: https://flic.kr/p/7cDUMC

From time to time I receive emails from Amazon as I am an eBook author and have published through them (here and here).

The latest email was a gem and one that is worthy to share.

In the future of work – whether it be with ESNs, innovating management or any number of ways to upgrade our work – there are always those who fight for the status quo.  (Yes, they still exist.)  They fight so hard, in fact, that their logic seems, well, as if you can’t call it logic.  It is shortsighted and driven by fear.

The below email gives an example of this to prove its point about the need to lower ebook prices.  It cites proof and logic.

More than that, however, it give an example of the paradox we see: “We want to move forward working the way we always have.”  No one comes out and says that, but that is essentially what they are saying.

The corollary to that is, “If we change it will hurt us. Therefore, keep the steady course and we will grow.”  Once again, fear.

There are number of examples that you can use when talking to others about the future of work and how we need to change the way we work, manage our companies, and collectively operate.

I know it is long, but it is worth it.  This is one to archive.

Well done, Amazon.

 

Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com

Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.

- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.

- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.

- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com

Are You a Cog?

What is a COG?  COG is short for the term “Corporate Cog”

…an employee who is obedient, diligent, comes to work every day, on time and works for the money. They may have gone to school for their job and even received advanced degrees, but they don’t really enjoy what they are doing.  But they don’t hate it either.  It is just a job.

When their alarm goes off in the morning, they groan and have a hard time getting out of bed.

A COG can be at any level in the organization, from the CEO to the base employee.  They will usually do just about anything to keep the job – the job they really don’t care for.

They are often beat up at work and instead of fighting back, they take it.  They don’t rock the boat because they don’t want to be the next former employee.

Their WHY for working is to get a paycheck. They often go home exhausted, only to return the next day to do it again.

DECOG

On the other hand, the DECOGGED employee is the opposite.  Yes, they are diligent in their job, but they also are creative, ingenious, and innovative. Their paycheck is a side benefit because they LOVE what they do.

When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, they are excited about what they get to do that day.

I have seen DECOGGED janitors, admin assistants as well as CEOs.  As with a COG, the DECOGGED person can be at any level.  They don’t have a problem rocking the boat because they know that thier job is a means to an end, not the end itself.

They understand WHY they are working, and it usually is not for the money, but for a higher purpose.  And it is not unusual to go home more excited and energetic than when they came because what they are working on they thoroughly love.

So, which are you?  Are you a COG or have you DECOGGED yourself?

If you have any symptoms of a COG, keep watching these videos to learn how to decog yourself.

Humanize Work: The Ninth Day (VIDEO)

It truly is a new day.

One where the old management model is breaking down and being replaced by a new model.  One that is much more flexible and agile.

But to achieve this, we need to Humanize Work.  We can’t keep working the same way we always have and think that we will be able to keep up.  Employee engagement is at an all time low. Traditional companies are throwing traditional solutions at the problem and coming up with traditional outcomes: not much.

Our organizational problems are new.  And they require new approaches.  The old methods will land us right back where we are sitting, which is exactly where we don’t want to be.

But under the bleak assessment of a current state is a bright future.  There is more in front of us than there is behind us.

And, personally, I can’t wait to see what is in store.

This video is a call-to-arms for those who are on the fence; for those who are wondering if they should take their company with them  on a leap of faith.

Not only can it be done, but it must be done to thrive.

 

And on the eighth day, the industrial age looked over its creations and said, “I need people to help me.” So it created the employee.

It said, ‘I need someone to arrive at the office early, keep track of money, answer the phone, field floods of emails, serve the customer, attend the boring meetings, and call me boss.”

So it created the employee.

This machine age said, “I need someone to give up evenings and weekends with the family at the last minute in favor of and stay up late to work on a PowerPoint presentation, only to have it scrapped for a new direction. Someone who will then temper his frustration, go to sleep, and show up early to work the next morning ready to take on the next challenge. Someone who will say, ‘Maybe next time’ and then keep working.

“I need someone who will be available on their cell phone at any moment, spend hours writing reports that no one will read, exhaust themselves until late in the night and be willing to return the next day, on time, to do it again, and never think about WHY they are working. Someone who will keep their opinions to themselves, will take direction and be obedient and diligent and too afraid to talk to management for fear that they may lose their job.”

So the the industrial revolution created the employee.

And at the end of the eighth day the machine age grew old, tired, and it died.

On the morning of the ninth day, a new economy was born. And it said, “The employee has been stripped of being human. To move forward we need to Humanize Work again.”

“What we really need is a group of connected individuals who are bold enough to stand up to the status quo yet not be toxic. Inspiring, but not autocratic. We need a group who is willing learn every day, to be disruptive when necessary, and work transparently. Who want to work because they love what they do, not just because they need a paycheck. Who will give trust as a default, not as an earned bonus. Those who will disrupt, rather than be disrupted.”

The new economy said, “We need people who will keep politics and policies to a minimum so bureaucracy and pride won’t get in the way of doing what is right. Those who will shed our old management model in favor of an environment of true collaboration and full engagement. For one that is flexible and agile – where innovation is not only in its outputs, but also in its operations. We need those who will create an environment that will allow for both diversity and unity; standardization and disruption; success and failure. We need those willing to pour their whole selves into their passion and to humanize work again.”

And on the ninth day, the organization was transformed.

This is your ninth day.

Humanize Work

How Would You Respond?

Remember this video I created a while back?

 

Every now and then someone leaves a message on Youtube.  Most of them are positive, some are not.

Like this one.

Actually, I welcome contrary views.  I don’t really appreciate it if the comments are a bit toxic, but we move on.

Last week this comment was posted to the video.  Obviously he’s not a fan of collaborative technologies.  I haven’t responded yet.  I thought I would just leave it out there for a bit and let it stew.

Actually, the idea that time is saved by using the message board instead of email, is ridiculous. Just think about it: how many lines of text does each person involved have to write and read in the email scenario? And how many in the second scenario? Right: exactly the same. The only gain in the second scenario has to do with digital space occupied by the messages. In the first scenario there is (too) much redundancy. So: good idea to switch to message boards, but please don’t use the ridiculous ‘hours saved’ counter! By the way: the second scenario has the disadvantage that the one-to-one messages sent in the first scenario that were meant to be private, would need email as an additional means of communication in the second scenario.

So what would you say?  How would you respond?

Just to add to it, I asked this question on Google+ and, as luck would have it, received another contrary comment.  This one more snarky than the first.  Again, no problem.  Actually, I found out this person is a troll and he was successful at sucking me in a bit.

After you read the comments, let me know how you would respond.

Humanize Work – We Are At War, But Who Is Our Enemy?

Let there be no mistake – we are at war.

Not war in the traditional sense, but we are fighting a force that is almost overwhelmingly too strong.

Almost.

You see, we have been taught to go to school, learn, get good grades, graduate, and find a job.  Once there, they put you in a box on the org chart, give you responsibilities and your job is to be obedient, follow process and policy and, if you are lucky, you might climb the corporate ladder.  In essence, you are treated more like a cog in a machine, than a person.  This is what we are taught we should do and most of us do it diligently.

Then later in life – it could be 6 months later or right before we retire – we ask ourselves, “Why am I doing what I am doing?”  This usually creates the basis for a great mid-life crisis.

We are not fighting against evil men who are conspiring to turn every person into a cog and subjugate the human workforce.  Rather we are fighting against a cultural force that compels you, and me, your family and your friends to give up our passion and spend hours working toward a cause that either we don’t understand, can’t relate to, or we could care less about.  It is a culture that tells us that if we earn a paycheck, that’s good enough – we are lucky to get that.

To win this war it is a constant, daily fight within ourselves.  It would be so much easier for us to give in, just go to work and get the paycheck.  That is what we are expected to do.  But if we want a fulfilling career, most of us will need to work hard to focus on our personal purpose.

But if you don’t have one, then you are already losing the battle.

For those who have a passion and a purpose but may not have the courage to go after it – you’re not alone, but you are not getting any younger, either.  And your situation won’t be easier than it is right now.

But it IS your choice.

You can either be acted upon, or take control and act.

And now is the best time to start.

 

Changing the World of Work: The Inspiring Free eBook from Change Agents Worldwide

CAWW e-Book

Let me just get it out of my system now.

WOW!

OK.  There it is.  That is how I feel about what we have created.

I was blessed to have 20 of the brightest minds in the industry join me in creating an ebook that is full of wisdom around the future of work.  What will it take to humanize business and shed the industrial era mindset of management?  Well, now you get to find out.

In this new free ebook there are 21 short essays on what it will take to change the way we work, how to do it and what it will look like.

And do you know how we created it?  For starters, not one email was ever written.  It was organized, written, compiled, and produced in a about a month’s time using a social network & wikis.  When we started out it was just an idea that no one person could pull off. To make it happen, people within the business stepped up and volunteered to help because they had particular knowledge or skills to fill gaps; people skilled on layout, graphics, marketing, social media, editing, ebook creation & styles, and the list goes on.

It reflects how we work together at Change Agents Worldwide.  Networked, not hierarchically. Managerless, but not leaderless. If it needs to get done we jump in and do it.  No dictates from on high.  No executive board setting the strategy.  All change agents are an equal part of the strategy.  And marketing.  And creation of products and services. And operations. And…

We work in the future – the way we teach others to do.  And we can help you, too.

Click here to get the free ebook.  It is also available on Amazon.

Warning: It might take some time to read – You just might need to put the book down frequently as you think about the ideas and how you can use them.

What is Your WHY? The Key to Coglessness

All of us need to be asking ourselves, “WHY” much more often.  Why are we working in the job we have?  Are we just working for the money?  It is because this is the only job we could find? Or it’s a job that will do for now?  Or is it because you hope to climb the ladder of success?

I bet if you were to do a survey, most people, if they answered honestly, would have one of those answers.

So, WHY are YOU doing the work you do?  

This question is they key to living a cogless life.

We must understand WHY we are doing what we are doing.  What is our purpose?  What cause are we trying to fulfil?

Mine?  It saddens me to see anyone live beneath their potential – to know that they have so much more within them.  As I work with clients I see business zombies – those who have so much more to give, yet have been beaten down by the modern day work culture.  I want to help them, and you, LOVE what you do, to live your passion and reach that potential.

But there is a trade-off.  Asking WHY will give you some answers you are not comfortable with.  

As Robert Caldera commented on the Decog.Me Google+ Page, Asking WHY “can be a more frustrating journey than to just accept things the way they are, but to not do so is denying who we are as human beings.”

What is your WHY?

Here is a test. Explain to someone what you do in your job.  Then, explain to them something that you love to do outside of your job and why you do it.

I bet when you talk about your job you probably will tell them WHAT you do.  But when you talk about your passion, you will also say WHY you do it.  And when you do, your eyes will sparkle, your voice will get excited, and you will smile and have an intensity that the other person can not only feel, but they will get excited with you.

You know that feeling I’m talking about.  You’ve seen it in others and you have seen it in yourself.

I challenge you to know why you do what you do, do what you love, and love your work.

 

To Disrupt or Be Disrupted – It is Your Choice – VIDEO

Change is happening so quickly, that it’s hard to keep up.

Products and services that once dominated the market and looked like they would always rule are now toppled by a competitor that came out of the blue.

Employees that felt secure in their jobs are being laid off because their skills – once cutting edge – are now no longer needed in the new, changed marketplace.

A younger generation is coming in the workforce and using words and concepts that mean nothing to you, and they are working in ways that seem reckless & irresponsible.

Suddenly you realize that your company, product or service could be on of those that people look back and and say, “Hey, do you remember…”

In that moment you have a choice to make.  You can either disrupt how your run your business, or be disrupted.  Because one of those will happen.

But you may say, “No, not us.”  And that is what the newspaper industry said.  So did the auto industry, the music industry, formal education, the timber industry, religious institutions, government bodies and even something as fundamental as the family unit.

So you have a choice.  Disrupt your internal operations, or be disrupted.  If you don’t make a choice, one will gladly be made for you.  There isn’t any middle ground.

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