THE FUTURE A Short Guide to Getting There in One Piece
An Example of Our Desire to Be Fooled By Convenient Simplicity
Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs – Utter bollocks from the moment (in 1943), when Abraham Maslow first published his ‘theory of human motivation’ in Psychological Review. Maslow built his model from qualitative research on the Native American inhabitants of the Blackfoot reservation, who later pointed out that his whole theory was entirely incorrect when applied to their culture and identity.
The hierarchy has subsequently been criticised on the basis of missing stages, putting stages in the wrong sequence, and the fact stages change according to circumstance, culture and geography. So basically everything. But the dreaded hierarchy proved a hit with marketers (for example), who had no formal training but wanted something scientific-looking and faintly European-sounding to beef up their empty marketing plans.
The Language of Reinvention
Humans and their differences in definitions of everything are responsible for many of the challenges we have in business. We’re obsessed with packaging up big ideas within simple phrases – for sheer conversational convenience or to avoid the hidden complexity.
Unfortunately, that simple act removes the enquiry and importance needed for it to be meaningful. It becomes meaningless to everyone through its use. There are millions of cases in point and the idea behind the phrase (whatever phrase), is valuable and often critical.
The big issue here is the wild variability of the definition in people’s heads – rendering the application of the idea impossible. This is death in a world where reinvention relies on the integrity needed for coherence and meaning across a highly interdependent meaning
A Case in Point
Any leader can be forgiven for wanting to create a ‘digital-ready’ culture. (#3 on the top jargon chart.) For the consulting industry, it’s like juicy red meat thrown into a pool of piranha. Needing to create a digital-ready culture is on par with the combustion engine coming on the scene.
There you are, breaking your back with a plough but thinking what an innovator you are to include a horse. At that moment you spot your neighbour, tearing up the next valley with smoking hot robot from space. No horses in sight.
Leaders have no alternative but to get their cultures in line with their transitions to stay in the game but how many dismiss it out of hand – being told they need to create a digital-ready culture? I’ve come across three who have said that’s impossible to create.