I am fascinated and inspired by the events in Egypt since January 25. The courage of those around the country to stand up for their dreams, their families, their rights, their jobs, their future, their country is always inspiring. And then to stand up publicly, fully accountable, in a country where popular dissent puts the lives of the dissenter and their families at risk...is inspiring.
And then we see those who gathered in squares and public places around Egypt to stand for their country. They brought their families, their children, their grandparents and their spouses and neighbors...to join them, to make that day their day in the call for their country to be theirs again.
Then we see how together they organized their own functions of protection at Tahrir Square and their neighborhood watch groups, media, healthcare, emergency services, food and shelter. And they did so in chaotic, life-threatening, conditions as they faced the power of the government that had not only refused to recognize their roles and rights in building their country, but had actively worked for 30+ years to deny those same rights and the means to regain them. Also, see Egypt: The Cradle of Self-Organization
Here's where it comes home.
The conversation in Egypt is the same conversation happening here in our institutions of business, schools, healthcare and government. Oh sure, we're not gathering in our town squares or our company lobbies demanding the ouster of "The Man".
But we are seeing the limitations of the top-down, command and control, hierarchical corporate structures. The limitations are a jobless recovery, declining leadership in innovation, declining ROA for public companies, growing percentage of disengaged disinterested employees and even those who actively sabotage their colleagues and their employer.
Our conversations, here and in Egypt, have taken place for 30+ years. The topic is always the same: how do we participate, what structures do we create to organize our participation, what institutions rule those conversations.
Both use efficiency and order as their raison d' etre for these now out-of-date and inefficient top-down, hierarchical, structures. Both have lost the connection with those they serve and seem to instead serve to accumulate power and control in the hands of a few. By coincidence they both accumulate wealth in the hands of the few. See also America's Income Inequality Worse than Egypt?
The explosive and surprising, to some, events in Egypt are replaced here in the US business community with an ongoing turbulent, disruptive debate about how to compete, how to innovate, how to sustain a business, how to turn unemployed into entrepreneurs, how to use social media, how much voice do you give those whose day is spent building the products/services/experiences, ow do we teach the new skills for the new jobs coming in the next decade.
One created a pressure cooker that eventually blew. One allows the release of a little pressure and a trickle of ideas and solutions, perhaps.
And sure there are the vested interests, the existing institutions, that have controlled the conversation who still struggle awkwardly and with ever-more overt and ineffective tactic to stifle this change and their being forced to relinquish their corner office on power, ideas, and wealth.
But the conversations are parallel. The terms may be different. Where the conversations occur may be different. Some of the tactics are definitely different. But ultimately the conversations are the same, have the same urgency and the results are expressed in the same areas of our lives: a future, our family's security and health, our children's education, the opportunity to express and share our strengths and talents and grow, the means to provide for our selves and our families and our communities. It's the same conversation that's been going on in every culture in every century since....cultures and centuries were described and numbered.
And where they go on, where they are allowed to go on, is where there is growth and progress. But ultimately, they will go on. The trick is how we manage those conversations.
That's why I tweet about Egypt. Ultimately, I tweet about us.
If you're interested, here are some links to follow the story. And go to Twitter and use the #Egypt hashtag to find more sources and more conversations to join.
My Twitter list for Egypt
Al-Jazeera's English Language Site. Where US media needed nearly a week to send correspondents...Al-Jazeera reported live from the very first day with their correspondents risking their lives to report the story as it happened...in real-time.
Noah Shachtman & crew at Wired's @dangerroom