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December 13, 2011


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I disagree with your assertion about hierarchy. The role of a hierarchy is to divide responsibility. For example, in the military someone has to be responsible for determining where to march. While social hierarchies frequently attach themselves to functional ones, this isn't necessarily so. Great post- thought provoking.

Rachel Happe

Hi Gianpaolo -
Thanks for the comment - at one level you are definitely right but I think, in practice hierarchies have become so much more. I don't know that they carry such negative weight in all organizations but the hierarchical structure does have a rigidity that makes it hard for people to grow quickly into their own potential.

I'm not sure my hypothesis is entirely accurate here - it's just something I've been mulling over in terms of how can we set up structures to encourage and support vs. 'manage' and constrain human potential.

Martijn Linssen

Interesting post Rachel. I got somewhat triggered (...) at "deep lasting love is mostly about recognizing another's vulnerability and (partnering with them to) fill in their gaps" but that makes sense when you continue to read the post

When there's two people, one is always perceived better than the other. Even if an outsider doesn't judge them, they'll do that themselves

Philisophically speaking I'd say that love is about unconditional love where there are only win-win situations in between people, and that the kind of love where people want to "make the other better" is indeed and alas the more common, also to be found in enterprises

At my former employer they played the word game, and used "way of improvement" over "fixing / better" in order to cover this up, but that only made it smell worse once you finally unwrapped that extra layer

I like what happened at your current one, usually that doesn't happen because the enterprise horizon is very short(-sighted). The horizon is that short, because the calendar usually runs from March till October. Before and after that is spent on personal gain and year start / end boredom, and in the middle there's the Summer holiday. With effectively 6 months to spend, and uncertainties about what next year will bring now, incentives don't span more than a year either

And incentives drive results. Short-term incentives, short-term results, high burn-rate, unhappy employees and unhappy customers - this is never about intimacy, relationships, and certainly not LOVE ;-)

So I'm unsure whether the cause is hierarchy but there is certain correlation. My old adage is proximity equals intimacy, and distance equals anonymity. Once a company grows beyond a certain size, both hierarchy and anonymity happen at the same time, and Love is out the window

Yes it's a harsh world out there with fierce competition but that's only so because we all believe that to be true. And after all this world is ours so we can just change it if we want

I'll gladly toast to more love, but to not scare the big old enterprises: how about incentives that cover 3 years? It will help us to go from short one-nighters to long-lasting relationship. Maybe not marriage, but steady dating at least - and love will originate from that by itself I think, with a little help maybe

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