It's probably fair to say that most members of the business community looked on the Occupy movement with a mix of bewilderment and disdain. But, says author and former executive Lloyd Tosoff, business leaders who fail to see Occupy's broader implications are already behind the curve, and their outmoded attitudes could end up hurting their business in the long run.
In his book Oceans Beyond: In Search of the Enlightened Organization, Tosoff points to the Occupy movement's rage against the "executive class" as evidence of a broad societal shift that promises to change the manager-employee relationship forever. Top-down organizations are dependent on an "underlying sense of subservience," writes Tosoff, that is fading fast. And because the leaders of these organizations are dedicated to maintaining the status quo in their own self-interest, they snuff out the creative energy that sustains any business.
According to Tosoff, the future will belong to enlightened organizations, ones that create an environment in which people feel "safe to excel," and where they can win "spiritually, emotionally, professionally and financially. " And in order to do that, Tosoff says, leaders have to understand the four lifestyle phases of a high functioning organization:
Emergence: An organization works best when creativity and innovation are allowed to percolate from the bottom up, writes Tosoff. But when creativity and innovation are discouraged by a too-rigid management style, the very lifeblood of the organization ceases to flow.
Order: Enlightenment doesn't mean chaos. Clearly it takes some level of management involvement to turn a creative idea into a marketable product or service and keep things moving. The key, says Tosoff, is knowing when good control turns into too much control.
Flow: You know an organization is enlightened when things just flow. People are engaged and happy, new ideas are emerging, and the organization is consistently delivering on its value proposition. If there's no flow, something has gone wrong with the first two phases of the lifecycle.
Outcome: If an organization gets the first three phases of Tosoff's organizational lifecycle right, it is well on its way to achieving whatever goal it sets for itself.