The COVID Roman Colosseum

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Well, let’s think about this and follow a bouncing ball, shall we?

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Step (1): Many companies are still run by cost-cutters.

Step (2): Even though we talk of “loyalty” in speeches and all-hands meetings, it does not exist in many companies.

Step (3): “Layoffs keep coming.”

Step (4): Realize that Step (3) happened because of the intersection of Step (1) and (2).

Step (5): “There will be more waves of layoffs.”

Step (6): Ditto.

Step (7): Most people make decisions at the familial level, i.e. how something impacts their kids, their ability to pay bills, their house value, whatever. People discuss things at the societal level, but they don’t often make decisions at that level. More here.

Add up all those bounces/steps

If your boss is a KPI Kevin, how is he making decisions? Is he making decisions based on the good of your family and your needs, or is he instead considering:

  • His mortgage payment
  • His subdivision
  • His future travel plans
  • His future education costs for his children
  • His needs
  • His wife’s needs
  • Etc.

A good manager ideally considers both sets of needs — yours and his. That’s called, sometimes, “empathy.” Empathy is pretty valuable, no doubt — one can argue it underscores most of the human condition — but it’s not super prevalent at work, unfortunately.

Kevin is, likely, going to make decisions based on his needs. And everyone at Kevin’s level is going to do the same thing.

So if you’re a peon (sorry, sorry, “front-line worker”), you are probably getting #piped unless you work in an industry where lockdowns mean more revenue, i.e. video gaming. Otherwise, it’s a hard sell.

But now at the executive level, all the Kevins are fighting for resources there — so basically we created a Roman Colosseum or Fight Club style situation where resources are limited, cost containment is paramount, no one knows the official “end date” or “New Normal,” and everyone is scrambling to justify their worth in the name of advancing their familial goals and agenda.

Plus: as all this is happening, commercial real estate might completely pivot in the next 24 months, and we have 45,000 half-empty downtown buildings in the USA alone.

People crave this concept of “normalcy” so instead of doing cool, proactive stuff with empty buildings or limited resources (like innovation challenges inside an org), instead everyone will essentially run in the same circles until things feel “safe” or “standard.”

And in the meantime, millions more will lose jobs.

Roman Colosseum. Fight. Fight for my pleasure!

This would be an ideal time to reinvent what “the corporation” even is, but I don’t see that happening, really. Too many Executive Eddies and KPI Kevins will chase normalcy to chase what they want for their family unit. Right? Or are we at a pivot point?

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money:

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