The American NPR web site has a nice story about what happens when a company / organisation’s management stops caring about when employees come to work. And what happens is that employees not only get better lives, they up their output; at least, this seems to be the case for the organisation featured.
Coincidentally, the Guardian today carried piece about John Lewis; a large UK retail partnership. At John Lewis, as you’ll know, every employee gets a meaningful share of profit, and they do turn a profit. I remember similar pieces in the 90s about Cisco Systems, where lots of the staff (all?) have shares. Cisco are still doing pretty well, as far as I can see.
I’m going to go out on a (not very long) limb here, and say that if there’s a go-getting future in – ah – our future, it’s going to involve an increase in this sort of stuff. What it ain’t gonna be made of is this:
… challenges aren’t faced by Britain in isolation. Across the globe other nations are adapting to massive change. They are responding to the democratisation of knowledge through new technology, the increasing mobility of capital and labour, the entry of billions into the world economy, the liberating power of scientific breakthroughs, rapid improvements in education and the collapse of social rigidities which inhibited growth, opportunity and innovation.
Because that’s empty talk. If you’re going to say there’s change coming, you owe it to us to say what kind of change. From where to where is capital and labour going to move? Which social rigidities are going to collapse?
To help us fill in the blanks the way that we’re supposed to, Gove gives us, yet again, the theme of New Labour turning back into Old Labour; observe that they are “in bed” with the unions (again); there are strikes (again). Implicitly, various horrors will come to pass: perhaps you’ll miss your flight; perhaps there’ll be power cuts. And worse than that, owing to unionisation, British companies are going to fail. Relentless global competition (the white heat of it?) means only one thing: no jobs. And so on, with a scattering of “deep red”, “dinosaurs” and “class war”.
This is, um, a scratched record. Or a Stockhausen tape loop, perhaps.
Anyway, since we’ve been challenged to think of change and progress, may I just say that I don’t think it’ll work this time around. Frankly, the people who pick up faithfully on this message are getting on a bit.
Update: Justin notes (his reporting is a bit more accurate than mine) that what Gove thinks New Labour is “in bed” with is “the past”. They’ve been “recaptured” by “the spirit of Seventies socialist nostalgia”, apparently.