Where have all the Flowers gone?

Where have all the Flowers gone?

I found my way into the corporate jungle at the age of 21. I started out as a Work Study Officer during the early 80’s, analysing organization structures, work processes, office and work space layouts, etc. with a sole purpose – to question every status quo and then do everything possible to improve and optimise it.

To me it seemed as if the rest of South Africa and the world were moving in unison regarding this never-ending quest for continual improvement and the upliftment of effectiveness, efficiency, quality and productivity levels. The era of office automation and the computerization of every thinkable business system was underway. People studied, attended course after course, being open-minded to almost every new fad introduced by the experts. The development in especially the electronic industry was mind-blowing and the curve exponential. The times we lived in then were such that you could dream of a new radical idea today only to find out it was in the pipeline already! Governments changed their old ways and social reform seemed to have entered a golden era. Senior management members retired early to make room for the upcoming mavericks.

We were radically transforming the world and enjoying the ride!

Historic events, like the death of the USSR and Apartheid, the USA-led wars and other eye-popping stories reached our senses at an ever increasing frequency. Overnight, the world became a village through real-time television coverage of almost every possible event. We watched wars unfold as if they were rugby matches. Communication took a double-quantum leap (if there is such a thing!) with the arrival of the internet and mobile communication networks.

We were making the world a better place for all!

Then approached the year 2000!

As the millennium came to its end it was clear that not all was well with Mother Earth and her people. Researching papers and commentaries on social trends proved to be frustrating as they are highly specific, topical and usually written from the perspective of particular nations or demographic segments. These sources do not always offer us with the necessary insight into global, general social trends. However, the Information Era which we live in keeps us almost over-informed. We can observe freely and try to make sense of what is happening in the world today.

We can be anything these days but never plead ignorance!

Scandals, corruption, white and blue collar crime, terrorism, public killings, unrest, abuse in all its forms, economic as well as moral decay and a thousand other bad fruits borne by society raised their ugly heads almost as if on command. Large-scale poverty and hunger are still with us while the world powers and even church organizations erect the one “monument” after the other in the name of progress and prosperity. The one thing that everybody seems to agree on is that nothing of what we observe is new; but it is the scope, depth and omnipresence of the decay that is staggering and should alarm us. Oh yes, and the one ingredient that was not so prevalent before:
– the arrogance that underlies it all.

What I find most baffling is the mass unresponsiveness, apathy, unconcern, coldness, call it what you like, amongst the world’s general population. Employees are trotting along in silence, holding on to their jobs for dear life while most of the business owners and management are gathered behind the golden goose, impatiently prodding her to lay the next golden egg. Their employees must be satisfied with what comes in between. We all know that only a few birds will whistle at the top of their voices and that they are most likely to be ignored. Cartoonists’ sharp and direct social critique at best evokes only a few passing chuckles. The ostrich comes to mind. When members of the public do react or object in numbers against certain negative issues or events it seems that they have no ability or will to confront it in an effective manner and they loose interest as quickly as they picked it up.

Let us start showing some guts!

Here is a lost secret: Behind every bad, corrupt, criminal, unprofessional, incompetent action there is (must be) at least one individual who is or should be RESPONSIBLE and ACCOUNTABLE! To generally blame a State Department, organization, business, political party, union, mine, province, city council, the Police, etc. for wrongdoings will NEVER solve anything and we will continue down the slippery spiral. We are not getting this right. We are losing the fight and the battle because we gave up.

Expose these individuals, name them and shame them!

An even crazier aspect of our society’s behaviour is when we are confronted with man-made atrocities we attack the whistle-blowers or the commentators and try our utmost to discredit that person. Brave, straight-thinking people from all spheres of society, be it from the religious, political, journalism, economics, business, education or sports fraternity, are pulled down by friend and foe alike. It is like shooting each other down while we are free-falling into the abyss.

Let us cheer the few view visionaries we have left!

It also seems that leaders are not interested in long-term planning anymore. They are stumbling into the future backwards, the majority of them not aiming at anything anymore, hitting the target every time! The belief that we can set things right, resume control and get back on track and pursue excellence in every sphere of our lives, must be re-awakened. The spirits of: we can improve everything; make everything better; up the standards; transformation; renewal; hope; faith; trust; etc must be re-kindled. It must be impossible to believe that humankind spent all its effort to develop and grow to arrive at the current state of affairs…

I do not think it was the Original Intention.

Let us lift our eyes and face the future again!

National Marketing Manager at SA Business Index and Head Coach at the OTC Club (Organization Transformation Coaching), he has been involved in business management, improvement and transformation for the last 30 years. He holds a MCom degree in Business Management and has a passion for coaching small and medium sized businesses on how to obtain their strategic goals.

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