Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The World Is Flat Keeps Playing In My Head

I have really been having a hard time putting what Tom Friedman had to say in The World is Flat out of my mind which is probably what Tom had in mind in the first place.

If the flatness of the Internet, with its reduction of all sorts of barriers to entry, I keep asking myself what is the key to a competitive advantage be it locally, domestically, or globally. I know it's an over simplification, since one really does have to consider things like money, and the ability to scale up, etc., but even when I make allowances for that stuff, the one word that keeps running through my head is commitment.

It is the one thing that I think is the most powerful weapon a business has in closing any gap they may have with a competitor. As they say, we all have access to money and technology, but it is the commitment level that our people bring to work every day that really makes the difference. I guess that is why we have seen the cliché phrase "people are our most important asset" all of our adult lives. I guess they are called clichés because they're trite but true.

Talking about commitment, however, and getting it is, to throw in yet another cliché, "easier said than done."

As a recovering HR person, I have had lots of people ask me about what I thought the key to gaining commitment really is. It is, or course, more than simply one thing, but if you held a gun to my head and said you could only pick one element that leads to commitment, I would say the answer is communication. I think it is more important than anything in bringing an organization (large or small) together.

If you talk to me and share information with me, I will feel that I am truly part of the enterprise, and once I start to feel that, then what happens to the enterprise is very important to me, and I will work harder than you know what to help it succeed because if it doesn't succeed then I take it personally. When people start to take it personally, they are really prepared to fight because they feel it is their integrity and honor that is being challenged.

1 comment:

Sheryl Spanier said...

Dave,
I agree that commitment--a vested interest in the work, the business and the people--is increasingly critical in a flattening world and that communication is a major antidote to people feeling disenfranchized and alienated. However, beyond keeping employees informed, organizations need to communicate their commitment to their people's career satisfaction, professional development and put consistent action to support "people are our most important asset" by demonstrating that individuals count in ways that are important to them--honoring the mutual commitment that seems to be backburnered in the faster, smarter, better 24/7 world we now live in.