The Single Party State You Show Up At Everyday
I read an article yesterday from journalist Umair Haque who wrote about the last days of the Soviet Union as being full of “forced apathy” (spending time trying to keep afloat instead of working on social problems), self-referentialism (an obsession with what is going on in front of you to the exclusion of everything else), and single party rule (governed by a system with no alternatives).
What does this sound like?
It sounds like every company I’ve ever worked for, including (and perhaps especially) the ones that talked very loudly about the potential of their employees, their employees being the key to company success, and how important it is to attract and retain great employees.
Even in my last full time job, the walls were covered with colorful posters and maxims such as “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”, “Fortune Favors the Bold”, and “This is Your Company Now”, one thing remains universally true of all workplaces. When you accept a paycheck, you are obligated to give whatever your job requires of you.
That includes complying with whatever systems are in place that make you part of the company eco-system—metrics, smetrics, managing up, managing side eye, feedback, performance reviews. All of it.
Of course you can quit. Still, wouldn’t it be cool if that wasn’t the only alternative?
As I kick off this newest iteration of my blog, Cube Farm Revolt, I want to explore what it means to be a free person even if you are employed by a company that makes demands on you 24 hours a day, examines you with a microscope, stack ranks you against the people you work with (people who potentially could be your friends), and pretends that much of this is in the name of “enhancing your performance” and “rewarding the best”.
As an individual contributor, how do you show up in power?
As a leader, how do you disrupt systems designed to tamp down the wild genius of the people who make your company thrive?
It isn’t another damn survey, that’s for sure.
Looking forward to sharing more on these ideas with you.