The laser-focus on Uber as the company’s organizational cracks turn into crevices should be viewed as a call to action for every CEO and leadership team from Silicon Valley to the Alley: no one is too big, or too valuable, to fail. If the market doesn’t cause your demise, your culture will.
Let’s play Name-That-Buzzword for a moment: agile, lean, scrum, design thinking, rapid prototyping. Innovation frameworks and processes heralded for speeding up the product development lifecycle and go-to-market strategies that focus on output-only tend to alienate the most important constituent in the product development cycle: the employee. The faster we get at building things, at changing institutions, the more alienated the workforce becomes. We see this realized from every corner of the country - from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Take employee engagement over the last 30 years. As physical manufacturing has declined and automation has increased, as the Fortune 100 has morphed from being populated with companies that make and sell goods to companies that sell services, and as new business starts have declined across all age groups, employee engagement and satisfaction has remained stagnant and in some verticals declined. Management has traded devising efficiencies in innovation and new market development (both good things) at the exclusion of understanding the impact these seismic shifts have on the workforce. Organizational development, recruitment and retention, and learning and development are tertiary afterthoughts, behind valuation and returns.
The warning shots are everywhere, but few are heading the message. So, as we watch our darlings of innovation continue to stumble, trip and fall over and over again, the question is simple: at what point will the market, and workforce sentiment, shift from accommodating to alienating? Afterall, uninstall is but a click away.