For four years I worked in a corporate environment. The company’s only goals were profit maximization and risk reduction. Values like competition, individualism and hierarchy stood central. As times grew more insecure, the culture and the way people worked together, started to shift. The lesser aspects of the corporate culture got more dominant.
I myself, as an ambitious young female, almost got lost in this corporate culture. I adopted values which weren’t ‘mine’ to begin with. They were not in my nature, which is why I felt so tired after a while. This harsh version of myself was not the person I wanted to be. Although I loved my job and my colleagues, I decided to quit.
Going through this whole process got me thinking: There has to be another way of working together? And surely, there must be companies existing in this world where profit maximization is not the only goal, other than non-profits? And is this mismatch between a persons’ values and the values of a company one of the reasons why so many people are dealing with stress-related symptoms or even worse: a burn-out?
So I would like to investigate if there is another way for people to work together in an organization or a social entity than the way of working I have experienced. Therefore, I want to learn from inspiring collectives and organizations. Maybe I can derive insights from their way of working together or provide other methods of creating a more harmonious way of working in a corporate environment.
This is where it gets interesting. I do not want to focus solely on companies, but also on other ‘places’ where people have to work together. In fact, an organization is defined as follows: “organizations are (1) social entities that (2) are goal-directed, (3) are designed as deliberately structured and coordinated by activity systems, and (4) are linked to the external environment” (Daft, p. 11, 2004). The same author even states that: “the key element of an organization is not building a set of policies and procedures; organizations are made up of people and their relationships with one another.”
Great, isn’t it? I think there is a lot to learn from what I call: the power of the collective. The modern Western world, or at least the world I know, is mostly defined by its individualistic character. And we are so very proud to be an individual. I am unique! You are unique! We are all unique!
However, I think it might be interesting to see how other people organize themselves in a certain way when there is more need or urgency to work together. For example, if the harvest fails and you are hungry. Or when you are elderly and you have to rely on others for help. Or when no bank will give you a loan because you do not have the right education, although your idea is worth a million. Or when you share the same values with another person and you want to combine powers to achieve a desired outcome. How dó you work together?