Trust Will Shape Our Future

But who’s going to blink first?

I’ve been writing a lot lately, but blogging little. I decided to shape my thoughts around work, organisations, business and life into something coherent. It’s just starting to emerge as an idea I’m calling Simple. Better. Human. So far, I’m still collecting my thoughts, so I’ve shared only one piece of content — a brief version of some of the ideas that I presented at the Lisbon Workplace Conference. In case you’re interested, here are the slides:

The more I think about the themes and start to write them down, the more I believe in them as a way to consider a better future of organisations and work (perhaps even, a better future in general). I’m a huge believer in trust being the starting point of it all.

I feel very strongly that for the good of us all, we need to move from a position where our business and employment relationships are based on distrust, control and secrecy, to a more human one formed around mutual trust, openness and conversation. It’s about putting people first — all of us taking responsibility and behaving positively as humans rather than trying to strip everything down to robotic mechanisms and being individualistic in our dealings with each other.

A lot of the time I spend on social media is in conversation with others sharing parallel views, so it’s easy to come under the illusion that the world is going through some kind of digital enlightenment — that we’re actually becoming more human. A few recent events have made me realise on all levels that while this is definitely something to (urgently) aspire to and there is a groundswell of thought pushing for a simple, better, more human future, we’re not even scratching the surface.

Aside from the atrocities that blemish our planet constantly as we kill over bigotry, greed and territory, this week I’ve seen far more minor things, far closer to home, that make me realise just what a distance we have to run. I use the term ‘we’ because at all levels, this is humans doing it to humans. Whether through violence in the name of fundamental differences in belief or small-level backhanded business practices, we’re all human and we’re beating the shit out of ourselves and our planet every day.

I had no intention of writing this when I got up today, but then I checked Twitter and this was the first thing I read:

Doug openly shares a lot of his ideas and insight — when he speaks, it’s from the heart. This made me feel really uneasy — an example of the underhandedness that still prevails in business and the world of work. It’s something I’ve been stung by in my time and everything I’m starting to stand against as I promote the idea of a more human approach to the way we build our organisations and conduct our work.

I hope it’s the result of a genuine mistake, because if it’s not, it just shows how far back even societies and workplaces that see themselves as enlightened really are. Those of us who are deciding to take a stand against it have a lot of work to do.

I have friends who are photographers, constantly battling against people using their images commercially without permission — or worse still, passing them off as their own. At work, we’re expected to clock in and account for our time rather than what we’ve actually achieved and organisations assume that without control comes anarchy.

It’s a strange time — we’re looking forward, yet still embroiled in old ways.

At all levels there’s work to be done and although on a global scale some of these things may seem insignificant, creating a more positive, human future is a gradual thing. One conversation, one action at a time.

It would be easy for me to turn this into a manifesto or political rant. Right now I have neither the time nor the inclination to do either and I’m fully aware that everything has a context — this is mine.

I genuinely feel we have an opportunity to push for a simple, better, more human future in the way we work, conduct our business and run our organisations. This new approach will be based around trust, giving, openness and making it happen is a real possibility. Right now we’re at the early stage where those who make a move risk being taken advantage of by those who aren’t there yet.

It’s worth it though.

In a week where travelling football fans racially abused a man in his own home city, British senior politicians were once again accused of taking bribes to lobby and anti-human atrocities continue to abound in the world at large, no matter how small a part we can play in making things simpler, better, more human, we should.

It all starts with open, truthful conversation — which is what I hope Doug is getting as he looks into his own situation.