As I read the first chapter of The New Work Order, I couldn’t help but think of my own workplace. Last class I briefly mentioned my agency is in the process of rebranding its key messaging, which includes mission, vision and core values or, as Gee calls it, a new Discourse. The readings certainly provided a new and more critical way to view this process, but how my agency has gone about the process has been closely aligned with what Champy cites as necessary to “mobilize the business…up down and sideways so that everyone is in the know”(20). To illustrate my point, our new core values were created by inviting a cross-section of staff, part-time direct care workers to meso layer supervisors, to participate in various focus groups. Staff were prompted with a series of questions about working at the agency, and their answers were recorded and analyzed for reoccurring themes (similar to qualitative coding). The themes were then wordsmithed into five concise statements, staying true to only using words articulated in the focus groups. They were then presented to the executive team who enthusiastically gave their stamp of approval. The new values will be rolled out mid-March and include a video about how the values came to be so all staff have the opportunity to know why, how and who crafted them.
I can see advantages and disadvantages of new capitalism, and I think it’s from experiencing very different situational workplace contexts. Had I read these chapters two years ago when I was teaching for the county, concepts like empowered worker and enchanted workplace would have added to my brewing resentment. As a teacher I rarely felt in-the-know, especially when we were told we had to take on new initiatives without any explanation of their purpose. I remember the new superintendent coming in and making so many changes that left teachers mumbling schools were the new corporate businesses of the world. In the teaching context I never felt authority was redistributed throughout, although I did find some improvement upon entering Adult Ed.
Regardless, maybe I’m missing something. Is it impossible strike a balance between old and new capitalism? Gee reads like it’s one or the other but I can’t imagine a world that doesn't have some kind of competing values…or change?