Companies in the Age of Changing Values
Talking about “Changing Values” and calling our current times “The Age of Changing Values” might sounds presumptuous since values are changing all the time.
But the speed of change has increased so dramatically during the last 15-20 years that we can safely call this “The Age of Changing Values” without distorting its meaning.
During my own forming years (up to the age of around 20), most discussions about what one wants to do in life centered about the profession: I want to become a doctor, journalist, police officer, engineer, etc.
Nowadays, more and more young people express it in terms of what they want to do and achieve in their lives: help fight poverty, sickness, fight for human rights, protect the environment, reduce green house gases, increase fairness, increase wealth of everybody on the planet, protect animal rights, and more.
Two of the key reasons, it is the belief of this author, is the impact of the Internet (specifically social media) and the increase in the number of so-called Third Culture Kids (TCK) or Cross Cultural Kids (CCK).
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this […] is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet.[…] – This planet has […] a problem, which [is] this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
(Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Yes, we do indeed believe that the exchange of small green pieces of paper can resolve our unhappiness. It seems, for ages now, we have had a rather ambivalent relationship with money: on one hand, we believed that we needed more of it at any given time; on the other, we believed wholeheartedly that money was the source and root of all evil.
I’ve been working in companies for over 25 years now. In small companies, the size of seven employees as well as in corporations with over 120,000 employees. I’ve run my own businesses and worked as employee; as “simple” employee as well as as senior manager, lastly in my role as Vice President of one of the most multi-national companies in the world. In the latter case, I had teams comprising of over 20 nationalities – all with their different cultures, values, and expectations.
One question popped up time and again: what is the purpose of what I am doing? Or more importantly: am I doing the right thing in the grand scheme of things?