Friday, April 13, 2007

Get out of the box

From Cafe Hayek:

"There are two kinds of people in the world. Members of the first group think of jobs as being rather like boxes, each of which has a monetary figure on it as well as a set of levers inside. A job-holder occupies a box, yanks on the box's levers, and in return receives pay in the amount of the prescribed monetary figure. Lucky workers are those who land in boxes paying big money and whose levers are easy to manipulate; unlucky workers are those who find themselves in boxes paying little money and whose levers are difficult to manipulate.

The second group of people in the world understand that real jobs are a matter of creating value for buyers. The greater the amount of value I create for others, the better -- or, at least, the higher-paying -- is my job. In markets, your job isn't a box that you get assigned to; your job is an opportunity to perform, to help improve the lives of others and, in return, to persuade these others to help you improve your life."

On a personal level, everybody should strive to work outside the box and convert their boxed existence into a meaningful opportunity. That's a given.

It becomes more interesting when you look at these two groups from a corporate point of view: Corporations tend to run like piles of boxes. Too many corporations are not interested in hiring talent out of the second group. They might at the Executive Level. They don't if it comes to the associate or middle management level.

If they supported the recruiting of valuable talent and mentored them up to the executive suite, it would change everything. But the majority of corporations still have too many lucky executives of the first group with big money and easy levers. Not too many incentives to change.

Corporations start to understand that change is not only necessary, it's mandatory. Those lucky executives with cushy jobs and no motivation better learn quick as well. It's about time.

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