Business Renaissance Must Be Human-Centric


Less than 100 of the companies listed on the S&P 500 were around in 1957 when that index began. What a stark reality for a mere six decades. Corporate juggernauts have fallen like idols of a nearly forgotten era. Antiquated approaches to leading organizations have reached their existential peak. A renaissance is not only necessary, but has been brewing for some time and is already marching forward.

The focus of self-perpetuation that the traditional management cartel proliferated throughout the majority of the 20th century still didn’t protect organizations from experiencing the gale force impact of market shifts. While many folks who are emotionally invested in that way of thinking may balk, it’s obvious that the machine needs to be re-tooled.

The world, as a collective entity, is more connected and collaborative than it has ever been before in the history of humanity. Technology is great, but one would be naïve to ignore or deny the complexity the blessing of technology has created in our lives. How we manage our organizations must not only be aware of this, but be creative enough to find a way to be successful and make room for this complexity.

One would be naïve to ignore or deny the complexity the blessing of technology has created in our lives

The typical approach is to define all the potential variables, then prioritize them based on impact, frequency, risk exposure…you see where I’m going with this, right? This is 20th century thinking to deal with a 21st century issue. Not the brightest approach, yet we keep banging our collective heads against the idiot wall and think something positive will happen if we just repeat it enough times.

The renaissance is, and must be, human-centric.

It is a return to seeing the value in a person as a person, not an asset to sweat. Life is complex. Technology is complex. Intertwining two complex systems results in chaos. We have learned to respond to chaos in our personal lives as a means of necessity. We seem to feel the organization should somehow be exempt from it. So, we create demanding and manipulative policies that only serve to frustrate, disengage and manipulate people. Nice. Stay classy.

It is a return to seeing the value in a person as a person, not an asset to sweat.

Once we step away from the self-perpetuation model, and realize that it is people who make it all happen anyway, there will be less of a need to self-perpetuate. Self-perpetuation will become the result of our efforts, instead of the reason for them.

This renaissance will be awkward, painful and publicly ugly at times as an old paradigm dies and a new one takes hold. Defensive postures will be developed as a way to save face and bad ideas that are pinned to tradition will be dragged kicking and screaming into the darkness of irrelevancy.

It will be a changing of the guard that will be necessary, but difficult for many people. It will affect how we do business, how we define success and how we structure education regarding business. This is good. This is necessary. This is overdue.

What are your thoughts on the renaissance?

Photo courtesy of Miah Kat


William Powell is The Leadership Advisor, a public speaker and Organization Development consultant determined to make human flourishing the 21st century metric for success. For over 15 years he has successfully worked with leaders from around the globe to develop and sustain healthy business performance by focusing on helping the humans - that make it all possible - to flourish first...the organization will flourish as a result of this.

  • “The renaissance is, and must be, human-centric”.
    Renaissance was a cultural movement based on humanistic principles. I would say, renaissance is human-centric by definition.
    So keep on going for a real business reinassaince!

  • johanngauthierakamrrenaissance

    Grat post William!
    The times are ripe for a renaissance of HR, Leadership and Talent and it is safe to say that many will be ordering their Vesper Martini all by themselves. The new world order is here to stay and the pace of changes will only increase. For dreamers and entrepreneurs getting this they will be ordering lost of Vesper Martinis with many people to share it with. The question is not so much why and when but how. Let the creative ones unleash their influence to reinvent the world.
    High regards,

    • William Powell

      Quality encounters. Love that Achim! Once we have the revolution that the organization is fundamentally a human entity, our approach to managing it will change. Thanks for your insight!

  • Luminare Coach

    Thanks William – every day reminds us that the self-empowerment potential in the Self Managed organization is overdue to replace antiquated hierarchy.
    We need to lead, promote, and follow that business model as our next steps. It would displace the power structures and reignite our health-centric economy – slowly!

    • Let me build on that to say, not merely “can and should coexist,” – profits are much easier to find when you’re focused more on people, less on those profits. It’s the zen of business, and it’s a hallmark of this Social Age we’ve launched upon.

  • Anna Maria Olori

    Thanks for your intriguing post William!

    Here’s how can I imagine a human-centric revolution in business:
    1) a radical switch from power and authority to engagement and responsibility;
    2) a progressive transformation of hierarchy in leadership;
    3) a fully aware shift away from mere profits onto value creation, from numbers to human beings.

    The imperative of a human-centric revolution/renaissance I thought is “THE THINGS WE CHANGE MAKE US”.
    Reinvent yourself and embrace the unthinkables around you!

    Anna Maria Olori
    MOBBIBLE Founder

  • Achim Nowak

    In the late 1990s the training industry started to flip out. “Classroom learning is dead.” All learning would be virtual, it was predicted, within 10 years. It created a new hybrid model of training – blended learning.
    The financial case for totally doing away with in-person training was compelling, indeed.
    It didn’t happen. The need for humans to congregate in the flesh, not via webcast or human approxinmation, is too fervent and will not be denied!!!
    My future view: Smartly integrated technology. Quality over quantity. A return to simple encounters. Slower business. Yes – on the human side as well, quality over quantity.
    Thank you for your delicious post, William!

    • William Powell

      I appreciate the encouragement Ted!

  • William, you make me proud to be a member of the League with you. This is the stuff that brilliance and change are made of my friend!

    Using technology to squeeze people out of business, rather than to enable them to achieve greater heights: that’s a sin.

    Thank you for this inspirational, and essential, call to arms!

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