This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them. And, it’s dedicated to the millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.
Years ago, I was talking to the new CEO of one of the largest companies in Canada. And he asked me a rhetorical question: “How is it that really smart people join this company and then turn into the Borg?”
For those of you who aren’t fans, “the Borg are¬†a fictional pseudo-race¬†of¬†cybernetic organisms¬†depicted in the¬†Star Trek¬†universe. The Borg use abduction and “assimilation” (forced cybernetic enhancement, connection to the hive mind) as a means of “achieving perfection”.¬†”
So, this was pretty strong condemnation from a new CEO. ¬†And it’s a question that has stayed with me as I’ve worked with organization after organization – big and small, for profit and not, national, international and global – that seems to have been infected by the same mindlessly driven orientation.
I was reminded of this questions the other evening at a meeting of IABC Montreal when Adrian Cropley [soon to be past chair of IABC] in his presentation ‘Be the table’ reminded everyone in the room that professional communicators should be thinking about their organizational stakeholders as people.
So, I have to ask, ¬†at what moment do we as communication professionals or organizational leaders give up our awareness of our ‘stakeholders’, those audiences we want to reach and engage, as real people?
When do we become part of the ‘hive mind’? We have the facts, how many people, in specific demographics, in different geographic locations, with different cultures and psychographic profiles. ¬†We can analyze the data in a 100 different ways. And of course, the Borg would actually be incredibly good at this. In a way it’s what they are designed for.
What the Borg would not be good at, and what I fear we may not be either, is the ability to think about who we’re communicating with as human beings – not just a compilation of statistics or success metrics – and understanding what our contact with them looks like from their point of view and given their context.
Empathy is something the Borg are decidedly NOT good at.
Maybe it’s time we consciously got to work on developing our organizational empathy. ¬†I’m guessing the result would be much better communication, stronger relationships and more sustainable business. ¬†And I think you’ll agree, that’s a very good thing.
Also see one of my favourite posts: ¬†Uhura or Deanna Troi?