Smash your wall

The recent historic events in Egypt remind me of the Peaceful Revolution in East Berlin in 1989.

In both cases I believe the protest movement was catalysed by the church, whether directly or indirectly.

While the imams in Egypt reportedly implored their faithful not to take to the streets, the pastor of Leipzig’s Church of St Nicholas actively encouraged non-violent uprising via weekly “Peace Prayers”.

Regardless, the amassing of the population in both countries proved the tipping point and the surging will of the people prevailed.

On 9 October 1989 protesters marched out of the Nikolaikirche and into the city.

For me, the sorry saga of West Berlin’s enclavement epitomises the flawed command-and-control mentality shared by the likes of President Mubarak.

It’s a mentality that refuses to acknowledge its own faults, despite the cold facts:

At least 136 Germans died trying to cross the wall from East to West.

0 died trying to cross from West to East.

What was the Politburo thinking? Was ideology driving them to hold firm? Was blissful ignorance shielding them from the plight of their own citizens? Was individual gain incentivising them to maintain the status quo?

The Berlin Wall November 28, 1975 looking southeast

Unfortunately a similar walled-in mentality is alive and well in the corporate sector.

How often do we see things being done that ignore or even work against the interests of the customer? Typically the root cause is a company-centric model that can’t be bothered inconveniencing itself on behalf of its own corporate values.

Of course, as dedicated professionals, we have to be careful not to fall into the same trap.

I’ve seen peers resist enterprise social media because they don’t like Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve seen peers pussyfoot over m-learning because it’s all too hard.

At the height of the virtual craze, I even heard someone declare without an ounce of doubt: “There’s no money in Second Life”. (Evidently Ailin Graef didn’t get that memo.)

My point is, it doesn’t so much matter what we want. What really matters is what our customers want.

To determine that we need to ask them. Then we need to respond in kind, regardless of our preferences and prejudices.

Sure, we can barricade ourselves behind a wall – but only for a little while. Eventually we must surf the wave that rolls over it, or get dunked.
 

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