Steve Iman

en*thu*si*asm \in-'th(y)uze-az-em\ n [Gk enthouslamos, fr enthouslazein to be inspired, fr entheos inspired, fr en- + theos god] a 1 : belief in special revelations b : fanaticism 2 a : strong excitement of feeling : FERVOR b : something inspiring zeal or fervor syn see PASSION


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Learning about Organizational Behavior

Not long ago, people went to work, pursued a career for life, slowly climbed narrow functional ladders, were pretty much assured steady employment and a God-given 5% raise every year. No more!

I used to lecture. In the '70's, it seemed right to shift toward "lecturettes", and demand more participation in classes and management workshops. When the '80's came along, he focused on "how to be nice" for future bureaucrats who would have a lot of power. No more! It's time to commit to more authentic personal development for people caring to live with the turbulence of a more complex world!

Most of tomorrow's organization will be as flat as a fortune cookie - air and pink slips in the middle. The Fortune 500 is dying, and quickly. Small firms are in, teams, profit centers with short leases on life and very few middle managers. Linear careers have ended. You'll learn a lot if you've got core technical skills, by moving around horizontally, in and out of firms and partnerships as short-term consultants and vendors.

If you want to survive, give up thinking about titles and positions; think of projects, set goals, sell yourself, and be 100% accountable. Think in terms of results, not excuses. Invest in learning. Lead change efforts. Figure out what value you can add to what's going on (it'll probably involve getting up to date as a technology user of some sort!) Show discipline in all matters of self-management, and above all, show trust and integrity in your work with teams. You won't have an organizational career if you don't.

Forget privilege! Future organizations will be places to sink or swim. You won't be told what to do; you'll need to prove your worth. You'll make it to "manager" only by acting like one. Make decisions, right or wrong! Do something! Inaction will kill you... in anything you're shooting for, just don't wait.

If you need direction, go ask people, read things and get interested, then act on your own. Especially in the world of careers, dependency on the "boss" is a dead-end route; it's up to you to take initiative, start projects, seek people who are interested in what you have to offer, build networks. Nobody has time to hold your hand more than is really necessary.

Responsibility for success lies within yourself. Forget arrogance. Don't burn bridges with peers. Don't let anybody down - ever. Don't put anyone down - even in your own mind. That's not teamwork. If you want to know where you stand in the eyes of anyone else, ask. Don't expect to be told... by the time you are, it may be too late.

Freedom is never easy. It's not anarchy. Freedom comes from taking responsibility - don't look for it elsewhere. Don't ask "exactly what is wanted" - life doesn't work that way anymore. Set high standards of your own rather than hope to get by with minimal effort. You're 100% accountable for your goals, for making contributions which others will value, for the quality of your work. Coddling is out. Ambiguity is in.

The new world is full of opportunity and growth for those who embrace risk and manage themselves well. The downside is onerous for those who don't get it. People who are uncomfortable in an unstructured world won't make it in large parts of the 21st century. If you don't have the self-confidence to take the initiative or are scared, or are waiting for the boss (or this teacher!) to say it's okay to try something, you'll be in trouble.