The people-centered organization: A new outlook on this workplace philosophy

Dave Townsend

President

Thursday, December 3, 2015

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Why are we here? Why do we get up every morning and go to work? Clearly, there is no simple answer to this question. There are probably hundreds or thousands of reasons – as many as there are people going to work. Yet, I dare to venture that there is one commonality that might help to sum it up all the various drivers for work - the idea of “the pursuit of the best life we can live.”

We know that everyone has a common core driver for why they go to work, so it should be simple to tap into this emotive motivation to create a human-centered business organization. Right? No, wrong! It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Why? Because this is about people, and people are complex, complicated and ultimately individualized. There is not one path to the goal of creating the best life, but a multitude of paths that ultimately creates demand, which is the foundation of the business world.

Complicated or not, the focus of business today has to be on people. It can’t just be about profit or product or even the work itself, because these things are only results of what people do/accomplish/create. If you were to take people out of the business equation, what would we have left? In today’s innovative, creative-driven environment, the core of any successful business is people. Look at Zappos, Google, American Express or Apple to see that people-power is the new norm.

Yet, the word, “people” implies a collective, a singleness of mindset that just doesn’t hold up anymore. A company can no longer be one melded thing – a team that losses individual identity for the good of the whole. Business today is actually driven by individual persons that are empowered to use their talent as they see fit, and by their individual choice to connect to and through a common pursuit of a purpose. We all are where we are and not somewhere else because we are making that choice - consciously or unconsciously.

So a modern company must foster and respect what I have started calling a “mosaic of individuals.” Supporting each person’s unique contribution, while ensuring that all stay connected to something “in-common,” thus making a whole - a company. However, as much as we can’t be an amorphous mass of one – all being the same - we also cannot be a collection of islands, all focused on our own things. The company must be the framework of a purpose that all choose to have in common. A purpose that fosters or speaks to individuals’ vision/purpose - that moves them toward their idea of “a best life.”

It is not enough for the company to say that it is people-centric. It must facilitate and support the individual in the service of the things they are choosing to do together as they pursue that illusive idea of the “ the best life we can live.” The company becomes the framework for the individual elements, the people, that make up a beautiful mosaic – whole by themselves, but more beautiful, more impactful when together.

What are your thoughts on approaching this workplace philosophy? We’d love to hear from you. Start the conversation on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.