some more thoughts on work (in progress)

Yesterday, I wrote about my realisation that seven years of working in a corporate environment had made me more of a corporate animal than I had ever imagined.

At least as far as expectations in relation to process, procedure and structure were concerned; as far as organisational tools were concerned, too.

triSARAHtops (love the name!) made the following comment:

I don’t think there is anything wrong with working in a corportate setting, or even preferring to work in a corporate setting, as long as you enjoy the work you do and (hopefully) believe in the work the company does. […]

I think a bit of contextualisation’d be worth giving here.

After a period of mental ill-health early in the last decade (already referred to in my previous post), the quite rigid structures of corporate-land were probably exactly what I needed.  What I do at the moment, teaching English online and proofreading, would’ve been impossible then.

When corporate-land works well is when it manages to make coincide a) the ability of a large org to learn organically (ie within and without) from the experiences, thoughts and actions of its component parts with b) the capacity such an org has to imprint its values on and engage with the communities it earns its living and future through.

Where corporate-land works terribly is when transnational instincts take over; when emotional and financial blackmail become a par for the course; when local communities are mere stepping-stones to be stomped on towards a far greater, more distant and disconnected glory.

I’ve experienced both in the same company.  For that’s the curious thing: whilst corporations love to present a singular and homogeneous face to the world, in truth they are – like all human constructs – racked and riven by petty turf wars; ideas too clever by half; empire-building; and nest-feathering.

On the other hand, they are simultaneously populated by people and departments that do their very best, despite all, to make their world, or at least the bit they can influence, a better place for as many of the souls whose lives they touch.

So.  Corporations, maybe large organisations would be a better term (for corporate bodies can just as easily be charities as they might be large oil companies or soft-drink behemoths), are a microcosm of modern life, and if we’re looking to see why there’s so much ingenuity wasted – or so much waste ingeniously generated – we need only go to our local corporate org and spend a couple of weeks watching from within what they do.

If business leaders and their sponsored political representatives find it so easy to damn the nation as essentially one of scroungers and benefit-abusers, if the words fall so easily from their lips, if the thoughts form so easily in their prejudices, it’s surely only because they have plenty of experience of the same in their own contexts.

Only, in their own contexts, out of awful self-interest, they find enough half-baked reasons to justify their behaviours.  Whilst, at the same time, lashing out against the poorest who never know what hit them.

That, then, is the context around my previous post.  Some of the things I magnificently admire in corporate orgs, even now: the organisational tools, when used intelligently, allow for an organic learning and a seamless transmission of knowhow; the breaking-down of large challenges into bitesized gobbets, easily analysed and processed, is a lesson in creative problem-solving; and even the corporatisation of public image – where not abused by PR departments – shows what can be achieved to generate a sense of identity with a bit of sensible marketing.

But where I still cannot agree is in the tendency to rapacious transnationalism.  If nationalisms are the bane of body politics everywhere, transnationalisms are the downfall of the global economy.  Unsustainable, in no way likeable, in no way fair, just or decent … they play one group of citizens, and their perishable lives, against another group of equally defenceless souls.

And in this matter, we need a better way.  In this matter, I am not your typical corporate animal.

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