The politics of this moment have little space for something as esoteric as market forces. In much of the developed world, popular media and politicians alike seem to have run back to the safety of a warmed-over 19th century discussion. Is the way forward based on industrial nationalism or international socialism? The language has been updated, but the basic platforms have not.
It seems particularly strange given that half of our waking hours are at work, and for most people the world of work has nothing to do with either view. It is changing, yes, and may not seem to have a coherent vision of just what is happening in any way that affects politics. That disconnect is certainly the first problem.
But there are lessons to learn from the one force which does indeed shape the world of work and directly affects the daily routine of hundreds of millions of people in the developed world. These are the forces of the global market, and they are not going away.
It’s not necessarily useful to base political thought on business practices. While it is often popular to say that “government should be run more like a business,” the two are very different animals. It’s also problematic to have government latch onto the various management fads which burn through major corporations. Stability and reliability are much more important for any sense of law or regulation to be effective, let alone the key difference in charter based on improving people’s lives versus making a profit.
Government does need reform from time to time, however, and business practices which have lasted through several cycles of management gurus are a good place to look for it. It’s also critical that the systems of government are at least able to respond and adapt to new ways of doing business while keeping with their core missions of protecting and enhancing the lives of citizens.
What can we learn from business today?
Global markets have created opportunities for small entrepreneurships to operate across international and cultural lines in a way that has never happened before. This puts competitive pressure on everyone to make it work better, even those companies which have been global in focus for a long time.
The vision of a world working together is not a utopian fantasy, it’s a market necessity.
It is difficult to get a handle on this, particularly with remote workers. Field offices have been located around he world for decades, but it’s far more common for a company’s core team to remote, or not co-located in one place. This puts pressure on nearly every aspect of a company’s daily operation, all the way down to basic communication.
Enter the Chief Culture Officer, CCO, is a fancy new title catching on in many companies. As more companies are defined by technology, they are defined by skills – which is to say the talent which they have in place to make things happen. How they work together and create a coherent working unit which gets the job done is the focus of a Chief Culture Officer, a position critical to success.
What does this mean for individuals or for government? The key here is not that we need a CCO in government. What is important is that a new focus on people and the psychology and sociology of how they work together is increasingly a key part of the daily lives of everyone.
This necessarily has effects through the other key perspectives on life, which are personal and policy based.
What matters in this discussion is not whether or not market forces exist, or if they operate at a global and trans-cultural level. They do. A relevant politics, and indeed a relevant sense of how these forces play out in ways which benefit us personally or socially, are what matters. It requires a deeper understanding of what an open market is, how it is created, how it is maintained, and how it can operate equitably and efficiently without a heavy hand of regulation.
It is not a question of whether there are forces which are bringing us together in new ways. There are, and they will continue to do so as long as there are opportunities for entrepreneurs. The important question is how we, as a people, will develop and harness these forces to the betterment of everyone. And, of course, the definition of “we.”