As the creator, main lecturer and leader the diverse, Hands-on Rapid Innovation team, I think it behooves us as people involved with reducing unemployment and improving the economy in Spain, that we recognize the Huelga General de Reforma Laboral (general strike on labor reform) and do SOMETHING that pushes us closer to a SOLUTION rather than simply complain and continue NOT WORKING.
The lovely picture on the right is of the library at the Escuela Técnica Superior de los Ingenieros Aeronáuticos in Madrid, Spain where the presumed supporters of the Huelga General thought it would be a great idea to vandalize the wall, creating likely 10s of thousands of dollars in property damage. The only positive note is that I can say they helped the job security of the janitorial crew…assuming they will actually try to clean off the wall.
Instead of partying Wednesday night because you don´t have to work Thursday, I propose putting the Rapid Innovation Cycle (link to PDF lecture slides) to the test via interested people and parties who would like to participate in a educational and productive debate…getting to the heart of the real issues at hand, trying to understand the proposed policies from both sides of the argument and see if we can´t find solutions which fit within our constraints…i.e. a compromise.
The Rapid Innovation Cycle is composed of 4 key processes:
- Opportunity Recognition
- Solution Selection
- Market Experimentation
- Experimental Results
What I´m proposing is that any interested party willing to have a respectable discussion, come to our offices at Calle Bailen, 41, the Madrid Emprende: International Labs (my nickname for the place is the “MadLab”) where we´ll try to identify the problems and solutions being proposed by both sides. Ideally, we´d leave the session with some potential solutions for both political leaders and the citizen that they could put into “market experimentation” today and collect data on the viability of the solution, “experimental results” (see the above slides for how the cycle works).
I do understand the value of striking as it draws attention to important problems. However, I also believe that a message is much stronger and carries much more credibility when you arrive with a solution as opposed to just your complaints. In terms of entrepreneurship, it´s like showing an investor an idea. S/he doesn´t care at all about an idea, but if you´ve developed it, made a prototype, built a website or have done effectively more than have the “idea moment,” you´re much more likely to get listened to. S/he may still not like your idea, but at least they´ve listened to you. In the case of the Strike, I´m unaware of any of the proposed solutions from the “striking” side (although, I´ll admit, I don´t read the news often–I get the most important information and news from my friends. We can argue about this life strategy in another post) and I know only very little about the proposed reforms. Something about business owners being able to “fire people at will” and employees not liking this idea.
So from this very limited information and my 1.5 years of observations, I have a general response. Based on my observations about how employees–in general–behave in Spanish corporate environments, it seems to me that employees are worried about losing their comfortable jobs…better put, their salaries that their jobs give them. They´re not likely loosing a job they love, rather their losing the petty $1,000/mo they do likely hardly anything to earn besides say, “aquí estamos,” “no, es imposible” or “vamos a ver.” Their afraid of actually being responsible for doing the job they´ve been hired to do (I vent about this in my post on The desire to “work to live” in Spain is destroying their economy).
Yea, yea, if you´re Spanish, you´re probably upset at me now for saying all of this, but don´t worry, I´m upset at Spanish managers as well. However, I´ll give you an ounce of hope, if you will get fired from this new law, or have been fired already, take this as an opportunity to find something you love to do as a job. You like to paint? Start painting. You like fixing things, become a mechanic. Don´t settle with a job you don´t like anyways, it´s a waste of your time…and because we spend at least 33% of our life working, you waste 33% of your life and will likely taint the other 66% of your life which is sleeping and anything else you choose to do with your time (family, friends, hobbies, etc.). Therefore, I encourage you not to waste life. It´s short and precious.
And if your a manager reading this post, you need to start valuing your employees. It makes me absolutely sick seeing and hearing how employees are abused here in Spain…getting paid very little for doing–in some cases–hard technical work (which people could get paid very high salaries in the U.S. or other parts of the world). Because there are not many jobs, your employees are somewhat stuck working for you and your little pay and you should be ashamed that you don´t at least treat your employees better. I´m not saying promote the guy or gal who does very little in your company, I´m saying reward those who do good and either correct or reposition those who are struggling. This does not involve staring at them and looking over their shoulder, it involves trusting them as employees and empowering them to do good work. Maybe, ask them what they´d like to do in the company. Maybe they might say I like talking to people on Whatsapp. Well, put them in charge of your online chat customer service. I guarantee it will put you leaps and bounds above most other Spanish companies in that most other companies simply don´t have free access to customer service. You should be aware that “the customer is always right” in most successful companies in the United States. Or maybe they might say, I like solving computer problems, and thus you can place them in the IT help desk. My employees (two of whom are Spanish) abide by the First and Foremost Fun and Fulfillment principle–in which they are responsible for telling me when the do not like or fulfilled doing what they are doing and then I reposition them or give them some sign of hope that they will finish the undesired work soon and will get to do something else. It´s a search and find process to find what people love doing. You have to be flexible and adapt to their needs. If you do this, people will work for you using their blood, sweat and tears.
Thus, if you´ve now been fired up by my post, great. This is the push we need for you to get involved. Correct me. Tell me I´m wrong or an idiot, but tell me why. Or tell me you agree so I know I´m not fighting a 1 man battle. Show me there are more Spaniards (and foreigners) who want to create solutions for Spain, for their kids future for their friends who work in bars when they´d rather be doing something they loved. In fact, if you´re motivated enough by this article to innovate or create something new, turning problems into solutions (one of our mantras at Hands-on Rapid Innovation), maybe you could actually create the job for your friend. I challenge you to get involved and during the Huelga General instead of using it as a great excuse to party. Come help us understand the issues at hand and design new solutions. Our team will document all of our solutions and pass the best ones on to the highest people up in companies I know so that they know there are people at the bottom trying to help and not just complain, adding to the validity of the strike.
Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom of this post. I admit, it is written in frustration, but I always am hopeful, I believe Spain is full of smart and highly capable people (I´m lucky to know most of them), they´re just not put in an environment in which they can thrive. You put a weed in a garden, it gets pulled. You put a weed in the forest and it becomes a Dandelion. Let´s make change, let´s make a thriving environment for innovation and change!