Animal Farm

I remember reading Animal Farm for my O levels and being totally fascinated by the evolution of the farm from being farmer led, to the equal opportunities workforce of the animals to a dynamic of anarchy and revolution.

It’s been a long time since I thought of George Orwell’s novel, but it recently bobbed up again in my thoughts when I was invited to a workshop on Laloux’s Reinventing Organisations around self management and wholefulness. For all of you who haven’t heard or read about Laloux’s philosophy it’s groundbreaking and one which everyone in business should read.

The premise is that giving people their own autonomy leads to ownership and pride and through this you get far more commitment, sense of achievement and responsibility within teams and ultimately better results.  Many sceptics that believe that this way of working can only be successful within small to mid sized enterprises have been proven wrong with many larger organisations such as FAVI and Buurtzorg adopting this philosophy and seeing turnaround results and profits.

The key of course to this working is getting the right people, in the right roles. Those who want to lead (as as Animal Farm shows there will always be leaders) need those who want to follow and those who want to take less responsibility need those around them who want to take more.

This has coincided with us undertaking a lot of affiliation work for clients. Matching clients with similar audiences for mutual benefit. Without money changing hands, Antelope has been negotiating value from one company to another - a bit like a modern day bartering service.

All of this has made me think a bit more about a world at work that isn’t governed by money - either the size of the deal, or the pay packet. There is no doubt that companies that rate environmental policies or ethical impacts over the economic outcomes often are the ones that drive customer loyalty and long term success.  But imagine a co-operative approach to work. Bringing what you are good at to the table and trading with companies for what you need. 

There are US sites that offer this sort of service - for example U Exchange and to an extent Craigslist- and I am sure there are lots of informal networks already doing just this, but as far as I know there isn’t a culture within the big corporates. With companies being able to reach out far and wide to other organisations, maybe this will be the future way of working?

It’s not a world I can imagine right now. But understanding and admitting your strengths and your weaknesses and letting others fill the gaps that you can’t or don’t like to do, makes sense.  We all need to be less hard on ourselves and others when it comes to thinking we can do it all and wanting to have it all.