The idea of Employee Capitalism came to me upon reading two articles recently. First, the January-February 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review titled, “The Age of Consumer Capitalism”. The author, Roger Martin argues that the two prevailing models of capitalism, managerial capitalism and shareholder capitalism are flawed and he discusses the notion of consumer capitalism.
As a synopses, managerial capitalism entered the scene during the height of the depression in 1932. This form of capitalism posited the belief in management’s role in driving the desired business results. Some four decades later, we saw shareholder value capitalism take root. The underlying belief was that if shareholder wealth was optimized, society on the whole would benefit. What we have learned says Mr. martin is that shareholder value is driven by expectations and due to the cyclical environment in which the markets exist, are not indefinitely sustainable.
The second article (much more recent) came to me by way of a Facebook posting from Harvard Business Review with a link to a blog post from the Wall Street Journal. (Gotta love the inter-twining nature of all these social networks.) The article was titled HCL: Extreme Management Makeover and was posted on Facebook the day after my blog post Leaders who Serve was published. This article asserted the concept of “Employees First, Customers Second”. By trusting the creativity, skills and intentions of employees, your customers will be the beneficiaries of added value. Value, as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If employees are in the limelight, I believe they will amaze you. Click here for the WSJ blog article.
With these two articles along with my own belief in Leaders who Serve, Employee Capitalism seems like a logical and promising next step. I certainly see a formidable theme developing. Our best assurances for satisfied customers is by focusing on the needs of our employees. And satisfied customers is the only way I know to beat the competition.