Losing the Pride

October 12, 2023

Before the industrial revolution, there were craftsmen, producing something for a client with whom they had direct contact. Thus, being proud of one’s work was expected. Add to it, the community was small, and people knew each other. So, if one produced a shameful product, the community would know and probably ostracize or shun that person.

Then came the Industrial Revolution. A worker on the line is not connected to the user of their work. So, they just work; pride is not expected. Compliance with QAC is expected instead. However, the owner still had their name on the building, and the community was still small, so pride was still a dominating factor in what people produced.

It all changed, I believe, with the establishment of the stock market. The owners are investors who move from one company to another depending on which produces more profits or dividends. No loyalty. The leaders of the company are measured by the return on assets or profits or whatever measurement financial gurus use to evaluate whether to invest or not. Also, a major part of the take-home income of leaders depends on the value of their stock options or awards. Add to it, the clients are all over the nation or globe, so the feedback that used to be direct is now through some digitalized surveys that do not impact the leadership of the company like it would have if it was feedback from a neighbor.

So, what is driving decision-making is not pride but numbers, the system. And what happens when pride is not a driving force? You can produce and sell products that make money, but you are not proud of them because you know they might be damaging to the health of your end-users. So, here we are, managed by hidden shame and by numbers, by a system that drives behavior, although in the long run, it might be dysfunctional to society.

There is a solution to this problem.

Every department in the company has clients. The clients of the production division is the sales department. And of the sales department are the customers that buy. There should not be a department, a unit that has not identified its clients within the company. Who needs you is the question they must answer. And they should be proud of what they produce for them. And the clients are right there in the company. And the small community of the preindustrial era is repeated: it is the company, the factory, the office. In performance evaluation do not ask just the boss what they think. They are not the only client. Ask all those that that unit serves. Ask how proud of their internal suppliers they are. If each unit produces with pride, eventually the salespeople can sell with pride too.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes