How did you lose your innocence

CleanDavid Maister asks a great question: How did you lose your business innocence?

I keep meeting people who have given up their ability to believe in the power of standards and ideals (or to believe that anyone else in business has them).

An example: “the firm pretends that it wants to inspire us, but the truth is that we do boring work, and so do those more senior than us. We cannot imagine that there are people who do work they are still excited about. That’s a luxury we cannot dream about. They just want us to work harder and get the people who report to us to work harder.???

So here’s my question to you: How did we / you end up here? Clearly, something was missing from my education and upbringing – the world forgot to “beat out of me” my ideals, but seems to have done a good job of beating them out of most other people.

I’m really interested: What (specifically) happened to you that made you lose your innocence about how business (or academia) was run (stories please?)


I agree with David – there are a lot of people out there whose view of business include beliefs like:

  • The ends justify the means – it’s OK to cheat and lie in business
  • If you want to get ahead in business, you need to be tough – maybe even a jerk
  • Business is only about money
  • It doesn’t matter how happy people are at work – as long as they put in the hours

I challenged some of those notions here and here.

I think we’re seeing cynical businesses and cynical business people falling behind. Why? They’re not creative. They can’t innovate. They lose the talent wars and their best people to their more innocent competitors. And that’s why the future of business belongs to the happy at work :o)

Go read David’ excellent post, and tell him how your business innocence is doing.

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