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Paula Marshall's Blog

The musings of a female CEO, trying to change the way business is done.

We must constantly self-examine, and understand our desires to conquer others. If we just want to fuel our own power and position, then we have advanced no further than our tribal ancestors.

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Carl Jung presented the idea of a “Collective Unconscious,” which is the idea that people in a society share a part of their unconscious mind. This unconscious holds the memories of how our society, and how humanity, came to be. A popular example is that every major tribal culture, and every major religion has a flood myth. Is this because they all came up with the same idea independently, or because early man experienced a flood and this experience permeated itself into the collective unconscious? Jung suggests the latter.

He also suggests that we inherit Archetypes, or patterns recognized in human behavior, from the collective unconscious. Jung’s idea basically suggests that we perform certain behaviors and harbor certain ideas because they follow the pattern of early man.

Every society around today has descended from a tribal, nomadic culture. When our societies were small groups of people wandering the harsh terrain, there was little or no protection from the elements or from wildlife. The best way to be protected was to amass the largest number of protectors for the tribe. Male warrior types were able to protect the tribe, and thus the tribe’s ability to procreate.

Many times, although there were enough things to worry about, tribes were at war with each other. Competing for food and resources led to an all out need for dominance. Once a tribe was bested, it was absorbed by the winning tribe, adding warriors and more eligible women to the existing lot. This only made the tribe more powerful, and more able to best anyone who came along.

Today, the wars have moved from the savanna to the Board Room. The wars are usually sans-spear, and the participants wear ties and jackets in lieu of loincloths. However, I am struggling to find many more differences than these. We’ve applied the terms “Mergers and Acquisitions,” but the premise is the same. The stronger companies taking over weaker companies in order to increase their influence, and to better be able to fight off the next competitor. Instead of fighting for food and resources, we are now fighting for the bottom line.

My red-blooded, capitalist readers are asking “What’s wrong with that?”

There is nothing wrong with fueling the bottom line, but doing it in a combative, head butting way only poisons our corporate culture. It pits company against company and employee against employee instead of promoting team work and customer focus. When we put our focus on “winning” and “growth” and “profits” it takes our focus off the most important thing, and the thing that will most likely help make us money: keeping the customer happy.

Refusing to participate in these corporate war games will allow everyone in an organization to work together toward a common goal. Instead of plotting and scheming behind each other’s backs, employees will be working for the common good.

As far as mergers go, two companies joining together may not be a bad idea. Are their cultures similar? Do they have similar goals? Can joining the two be mutually advantageous for both parties and contribute something genuine to the culture? If so, I think merging can be a positive step.

However, we must constantly self-examine, and understand our desires to conquer others. If we just want to fuel our own power and position, then we have advanced no further than our tribal ancestors.

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