Why escape from cubicle nation? Three of the smartest thinkers in business weigh in on this highly relevant question, a question made public by Pam Slim in her intriguing book, Escape From Cubicle Nation. Their belief, however, is that we really need big companies. Admittedly, many big firms still work out of the cost-containment, standardization model, which authors the unfulfilling jobs and dysfunction that Pam Slim and Daniel Pink refer to. Still major firms are beginning to understand that a different organizational model in which organizations value their employees will be required for competition in a highly innovative world and many are starting to put that in place.
But what's most significant is the writers' insight into why we need large organizations: Large organizations can provide "platforms for individuals to systematically experiment, learn, and innovate" and they will be the "best positioned to support and develop scalable, long-term, trust-based relationships."
Furthermore, large firms can provide the stability that makes it possible to keep up with the fast-moving global economy and this unpredictable world. They will be able to provide learning opportunities for growth, more growth and still more growth in a world where company existence will be built on employee competence and innovation.
Having consulted for start-ups, small firms and multi-national organizations, I've noticed significant differences in personal opportunity--especially for those in the early years of their career. Although the media hype the youthful entrepreneurs who succeed, statistically they are such a small piece of the total that the pattern they set serves only to hype the imagination rather than build genuine opportunity for more than a few.
Among the writers of that Harvard blog on big organizations is the highly knowledgeable John Steely Brown, whose work, The Social Life of Information, published in 2000, remains the last word on the information side of technology. It's light years ahead of anything on the web from any generation. It does point to the tunnel vision that information-driven technologies breed and is not necessarily welcome input to the conventional wisdom surfaced by so many bloggers.
By no stretch of the imagination would I deprecate the orientation to free-lancing (I'd be shooting myself in the foot), and escaping from the dysfunction of the macro organization. But those who have thick skin will find much of value in at least a short-term tenure at one of America's major organizations.
As a free-lancer who consults largely to huge, multi-national firms, I accept Brown and his colleagues' argument in toto. Actually, it's the best rationale for a major corporation that I've seen in the last ten years. The truth is that no matter how effective a small firm's network of experts, it can't provide the platform and resources often needed for major projects and much innovation. The article, deserving of much study and thought, is found here: http://bit.ly/1a9Y35