Throughout my career I have experienced various situations in organisations and business where there is a ‘boss’ that thinks he is right. Now from here I want to take a really big leap to how a boss that thinks he is right is causing capitalist slavery. You see, if all the guys that think they are right and are really successful (don’t you just love that word) come together and form a club I would call that the Killer Club.
So obviously I am relishing in gross exaggeration here but give me a second to explain: We live in a world where economies are highly interrelated and for them to succeed they need to offer products to consumers and use resources to get it done. One of these ‘resources’ is human beings, yes, we have successfully reduced the human being to an input factor of production. Never mind what we are producing or why the business exists; that is irrelevant. As long as the cogs in the machine are turning and profit is continuously maximised. Mission, vision and values adorn the walls of glitzy corporate headquarters and even smaller business nowadays.
Now, at the helm of these capitalist ships are men who are many times revered for their vision, determination and guts to stand up and do something different. Most of all they are seen as heroes because they are creating work and building businesses that contribute to the economy. Now there is a sneaky paradox that comes and nestles itself in the midst of our collective conscience. I will call this paradox Rupert. Now Rupert is a very likeable character because on the one hand he represents the progress of the economy and we like more jails. Uh, I mean jobs. You see what I mean – sneaky. It seems like you need the Killer Club that goes about doing business in a egotistical fashion stomping on people – in order to move forward you need to hurt people. Some even believe it is good for people because ‘it stretches them’. Phrases like “you won’t get anywhere if you are not willing to make sacrifices” are used as shileds of denial. They love you if you can sacrifice as much family time as they do and if you should ask them why they are doing it they mask their personal ambition with visions of ‘great’ leadership. On the one hand it seems good that we are creating more jobs for more people that want to own SUV’s and three flat screens to watch 225 000 television channels on but herein lies the seeming contradiction that expresses a truth: In order to grow the economy and increase the levels of ‘happiness’ in society we need to reduce our happiness at work.
After all it’s just business, don’t take it personal. So let’s finish of the gross exaggeration that we started earlier. The Killer Club gets together and decides to use their favourite pet Rupert in order to seduce many people in society into giving up their freedom in order to produce things that society does not really need in order to make us ‘happy’. They destroy the environment in the process and create wealthy elites that reinforce their interests through investments and continue the vicious cycle. If you realise what the game is and play hard enough you could perhaps create your own jail where people come to. I mean what is better than being in jail? It’s being the jailer. You step out and create something for other people you did not want for yourself – you escape in order to enslave others.
Seen from this perspective you would think that I am a tree-hugging, rabbit-loving activist but in fact I am a capitalist at heart. I do however believe that, like Ken Chenault said, we need to review capitalism and think about the role of business in society. I strongly believe that we can do business differently and that it is not profit that is so important it is the ability to make profit. Here I am referring to businesses that are transforming the face of capitalism, such as the Grameen group and Semco, that has people at their core reason for being. Are you considering how your belief that you are right is impacting others around you?