But there are simple things humans created thousands of years ago that are still a part of our daily life. Like knots and buttons.
Every time I think about this, I get amazed. Despite all progresses reached by mankind over the centuries, the simple gestures of tying laces and fasten buttons have never changed. And every morning, this reminds us of how simple and useful things can cross the centuries, survive against all progresses and evolutions, and stay useful, easy and accessible in spite of all the other things moving around. Although not the best way to tie, since they both take time, a button can detach, and a lace can break up. But still, they are better than the zipper, which can easily break or hitch on.
When it comes to discuss organizational development, to me there are two things which are like knots and buttons. These are social interaction structures that have accompanied the mankind walk path since ever. Hierarchy and Leadership.
Useless to say that the main difference is that hierarchy is about power and command, while leadership is about influence and inspiration. But both carry out the same function: leading others. Just like knots and button are used to tie.
It is likely that, within the very first tribe of humans who lived on this planet, a sort of hierarchy was established. As well as it is likely that the first human who had been able to influence and inspire another human, actually created leadership.
Through all this time, the same processes have been taking action every single millisecond of earth’s life. Oftentimes following the same steps and features, like we were still that tribe with a hierarchy, and/or with a leader. Like knots and buttons. And it has been working forever, with ups and downs of course, but always serving the cause of giving orders and guidance in a natural, easy, reliable and clear way. Like knots and buttons.
And the zipper? Where is the zipper here?
To me, the zipper is the new way of leading and managing people. A non-hierarchical organization where individuals count for what they are able to do and to contribute, not for their power or influence, but just because they are good. And of course there are leaders there, but leaders who devote themselves to inspiring others rather than influencing. And not only inspiring, also engaging and holding accountable.
There are some “zipper” organizations out there, but still a few, weak and oftentimes they hitch on. Knots and buttons still do a great job, truth be told, and are familiar to people and to the business environment.
But I am positive there will be a time when zippers will not break or hitch on anymore. When the time is ripe, organizations will get rid of hierarchies and find their way to really nurture the talents we all have inside. When the time is ripe, leaders will engage and inspire us to be better humans, better workers and become the new leaders of tomorrow. At last, to reach that level of happiness that everyone aims for.
And you, what are the “zipper” organizations you know?