Positively disrupting corporate working concepts
“Kick out your boss” is what Elisabeth Scharang, Austrian director and author, demands in her new film about self-governed companies and new forms of corporate cooperation that takes her from a design collective in Graz to Vojvodina and further to Brazil.
And clearly, her work is just the peak of an iceberg of new ideas and concepts that transform – yes, even better: positively disrupt – traditional ways of working in the corporate world.
After decades of capitalism and maximizing profits, we seem to have finally understood that huge proportions of our time are filled with work and how important it is to make this time worthwhile and enjoyable.
Generally, people try to accomplish this by using two different strategies – outside or inside of corporations: entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship.
Ahhhh!!! Do you smell this? This is the scent of endless freedom, truly fulfilling work and self-controlled action… Clearly, I can see, why being self-employed may be very appealing and intriguing for many people.
But, of course, there are downturns as well, especially in these last years of economic crisis:
After the “explosion of start-ups” at the beginning of the century, entrepreneurship turned the cool dream of being your own boss and becoming famous through your innovative and money-making idea, into a nightmare for many people.
A recent study conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research shows that more and more entrepreneurs fail to create jobs based on their business ideas. There’s an increased tendency of self employment turning into outsourced work and payed on a contract basis by big corporations. It’s basically their thrifty way of saving on social security, health insurance and pensions and the result: involuntary entrepreneurs working on minimum wages. As a matter of fact, there are more and more entrepreneurs who depend on social security payments to guarantee for their economic survival.
So, people again turn to new approaches to disrupt working patterns: those already existing within corporate structures.
An intrapreneur is, according to a standard definition, “a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.”
And yes, we all know the set-backs of working for a company: the folks there are annoying, there’s not enough flexibility to define your working hours and, worst of all: the place is terrible. Not to mention, that what you do there is probably not saving the world!
You know what? It even gets worse: There is even empirical evidence that of all the people you interact with – mostly, your “bosses”, make you unhappy. Hurray!
Well, we’re looking for ways to positively disrupting these set-backs, so how about a different view. Sounds fishy to you? Maybe it is FISH!
Or take a look at Ricardo Semler, a Brazilian business tycoon. He thinks that companies ought to put employees’ freedom and satisfaction ahead of corporate goals, as he states that in his by-now classic: “the Seven-Day Weekend”. The title references Semler’s belief that life shouldn’t be divided into work and free time any more. If you can reply to a business-related email on a Sunday evening, why can’t you go to the movies on a Wednesday morning?
Aren’t you working for such a company? Then, it’s time for you to take a first step and positively disrupt. The links in this section should at least foster some ideas.
But of course, in the end, this is not enough. What we need, according to innovators of economy such as Ethan Miller, is a whole new idea of economy / work on a societal basis.
Solidarity economy is a term that transports the idea that there are alternatives to traditional forms of economy that include social, democratic and ecological standards. Familiar concepts in this domain are “less is more” or “buy local.”
This leads people to engage into the so called “New Work”, which takes up less time, allowing for employment and fulfillment for a larger number of people: something the Niko Peach defined as the “economy in the aftermath of growth”.
Well, no matter where we are headed from here or which of the concepts you prefer, I’ll stick to Paul Graham:
“It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.”
I guess he’s right!
 Kahnemann, D., Krueger, A.B., Schkade, D.A., Schwarz, N., Stone, A.A. (2004): A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 306, p.1776-1780