My purpose in writing this book is to reach out to the millions of working-class people around the globe to inspire them to stop working and start contributing, to enhance financial and non-financial performance within their respective organizations. In short, I wish to inspire each reader to become a recognized member of an HpO (High-performance Organization).
The idea that working-class people can stop working is not as radical as it may sound. Take a moment to consider how you generate an income. Do you work (expending effort to survive) or do you contribute (investing energy to live). Are you happy and secure in your organization’s culture, or are you simply commuting to a place where you trade your time for wages before returning home as quickly as possible to a familiar, secure culture? Are you a business owner, or a leader of an organization or functional team? If so, are your employees engaged, effective, efficient and happy?
An HpO enjoys a profitable and sustainable business through people who contribute. In essence, HpO employees do not work, they contribute as recognized and valued employees in a culture which extends from beyond their customary social environment.
Years ago, when I was pulling cables as an apprentice Electrician, I dreamed only of becoming certified and earning top union wages. I felt it would compensate for the undesirable working conditions and the lack of recognition by bosses, managers and business owners. However, when the time came that I was certified, the wages didn’t make things any better. In fact, they actually made things worse; I spent more money hoping to find happiness in material possessions to compensate for having to labor for a boss.
Eventually, I changed employers (too many times to remember). Each time the results were basically the same. I’d return home miserable because work just wasn’t any fun. Then one day I read a posting for a position I’d never before considered: Planner. I applied and was successful in securing the position. This was a turning point in my life. I discovered how it was possible to inspire people to contribute, to perform tasks safely, with quality, efficiency, and most importantly, happily. I was finally a recognized contributor in a culture that valued people as much as it valued profits, which, (as tangible results indicated) not only increased profits but helped to establish a sustainable business, as well.
Most of us spend more time working to survive than we do communally living in our chosen society. And, for the majority of us, work is not where we desire to spend such a demanding amount of time. Many of us would much rather invest our time almost exclusively in a secure environment, pursuing interests that fulfill us emotionally and physically, and (if possible) financially. Would it not make sense, then, that extending our ideal society into the workplace would create a more profitable and sustainable organization?
Explore the hallways, boardrooms and shop floors of any organization, and you’ll discover a treasure chest of valuable resources: its working-class people. There is, however, a more valuable treasure to be discovered, which is what this book is about. Lead, Manage or Dig is 1) an educational and entertaining treasure map of navigational aids (atons) and 2) a charter of concepts designed to help you discover and implement the most valuable treasure an organization can acquire: the value of a contributing culture.
My belief is that once an organization adopts a contributing culture, its leaders can strategically plot a new course, where working-class people embrace continual change with confidence and agility.
On November 9, 2008 the Global Economic Crisis was headline news. At 8:00 A.M. that morning, I stepped off an elevator on the fourth-floor of a Toronto office building, straight into a contributing culture, head-on into a troubled project.
It was my first day as a manager on a massive mining project under construction in Madagascar. Although the feasibility of the project was now uncertain, it was clear that the other managers on the Owner’s team were determined to find a way to keep the project alive. (Many of these managers were brought in from existing production facilities, where they had lived and worked together for years.)
Months later, with the Directors’ latest strategic plan in place, management mobilized us to the project, believing we had the cultural strength among us to succeed.
And so began a voyage that took me half the way around the world, to a project filled with challenges, opportunities, lessons-learned and friendships that continued to grow long after I boarded my last flight back to Canada on April 30, 2011.