Are we an Organization or an Organism?

by | Sep 20, 2021 | Organizational Development | 0 comments

Are we an Organization or an Organism?

by | Sep 20, 2021 | Organizational Development | 0 comments

If you were to choose a word or phrase to describe the workplace today… What would it be? Is it just me, or would most of us default to something negative?

Let’s start with Bat-Shit Crazy.

In March of 2020, at the most uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, something began to change at the foundation of our civilization. Definitions that we’ve come to rely on to provide our lives with some semblance of predictability and normalcy were shifted, like tectonic plates beneath our feet.

The earth quaked.

50 years ago, “going to work” was most often defined, at least in large urban areas of our country, as a white man in a black suit going to a downtown office building and congregating with other white men wearing black suits for 8-10 hours every Monday-Friday. It was predictable, routine, almost picturesque. Unless you weren’t a white man and especially if you didn’t own a black suit. Obviously, this is a generalization. But also as obvious, the further back you go the less of a generalization this is.

Recently we’ve all begun having conversations about what the future of the workplace looks like after the pandemic. Will this whole remote thing last? What about a hybrid model? Personally, I still love the Prius. Other companies have used this opportunity, however morose it may have been, to cull their organizations of slackers who no longer liked the idea of coming into the office every day by mandating back to work policies company-wide, and abruptly firing anyone who did not comply.

When I was in my freshman year at college I was asked, “Is a company an organization or an organism?”

It’s one of those questions that I felt very comfortable answering without giving it much thought, but my brain finally pulled the andon cord before any words got out. I hadn’t processed the question fully.

There are eight characteristics that all living organisms possess, and when held up to the x-ray lightbox, made me think twice.

  • Organization
  • Reproduction
  • Metabolism (Conversion of raw materials into energy)
  • Growth and Development
  • DNA
  • Change
  • HomeostasisEvolution

The reason I’m bringing this up – how we see and define what our businesses are at an existential level will help us understand what happens next, and how well we will lead our people through the next 12 months of uncertainty.

The workplace used to be more static. It used to be more monochromatic. It used to be predictable. It used to be boring. The changes that have occurred over the past century have created a workplace and a workspace that are wholly different.

  • The value of human capital has skyrocketed
  • Women found a voice and began using it to lead
  • Diversity has been proven to be a strength

· And most recently, we have begun rejecting the “Live to Work” philosophy that had us commuting to urban centers for three hours every day so that we could feed and water our office chairs

The workplace has evolved. I have no idea where it will take us. And to try and determine this in the middle of a global pandemic is asking for a Magic 8 Ball because the foundation of business is people. Living and breathing. Fighting and driving. Striving and creating. However, if we begin seeing our businesses through the lens of a living and breathing entity, instead of an organization, it will at least be easier to enjoy the ride.

Trying to control nature is never a good idea. How well did that work out for John Hammond and his team at InGen?