Dream a Little Dream with Me
America faces many threats in the 21st
century, and, in fact always has ever since there was an
America. Certainly there are the many threats we hear
about incessantly in the news media, as well as terrors of
climate change, crime, lack of health insurance, plague,
pestilence, frogs, boils and many others.
Each of these serious risks is harmful to our
health as individuals, compounds societal problems and leaves
a more difficult set of risks for the next generation.
the crises that affect us, however, the HR Doctor submits for
your consideration that there is one in particular which gets
little press but is profoundly important to the future of
every person in the country, if not the world. This is
the crisis resulting from the fact that we seem to be
forgetting how to dream.
Dreams are the stuff of which optimism and
hope are bred. Dreams are what can inspire us and our children as well as our nation as a
whole. Dreams offer hope, and a sense of the
possible, instead of merely the as is.
The causes of the dream crisis, like any of
the other crises mentioned above, are varied and not the
result of any single thing. A few thoughts by this
author suggest that we forget to dream in the face of a flood
of made-to-order images and realities that leave little if
anything to our imaginations. Video games are great fun,
for example, and very addictive, but there is something about
reading an actual book that allows the mind to expand to fill
in the story with mental images, including images of sounds
and sights and smells. Its more difficult to read a book than
to double-click on a computer mouse, but the dream capability
is worth it.
The same is true of being able to share with
a child or any other person you love, the wonders of the night
sky. First, its hard to find the night sky above all
the light pollution, but if youre fortunate to live in an
area where you can actually still see stars, amateur astronomy
opens the door to visions. What must it have been like to be
alive 5,000 years ago before high-intensity lights, and to
take a leap of imagination about what all those objects up
there could really be about.
Dreams are not merely fanciful fluff. They
can and should be key concepts in the business world. One
persons dream, if properly communicated through inspiration,
leads to amazing discoveries and outcomes. Dreams can
give us clues. They can give us insights into things we
can accomplish, and adventures we can have if we only
encourage them and act on them.
New employees come to work in public agencies
with hopes and dreams of where their careers can take them and
how they might grow or at least they should come to work
that way. Many however, come merely for a short-term sense of
earning a pay check or extracting
benefits out of the system without necessarily contributing
back more than they take.
Part of HRs challenge in the 21st century is
to create a workplace in which aspirations and dreams can be
voiced safely and respectfully and allowed
to be pursued. Unfortunately, some are the
managers, elected officials, or the boards of county or city
commissioners who feel it necessary to attack their colleagues
or belittle their thoughts and attempts at contributions. They
are the dream terrorists who pose a threat to the morale of
individuals and the success of the organization.
Looked at another way, the metaphor for the
mass production assembly line seems to be a dominant theme in
the minds of many who have lost the capacity to dream.
In this context, individuals are judged and make judgments
based on ability to follow mechanical processes to reach some
sorts of quality and production requirements. Little
variance is tolerated in that kind of situation.
The public agency
which claims that every answer to every problem may be
found in the civil service rules, or the county ordinance
code, is not going to be agile enough to do well in the era of
flexibility and nimbleness which characterizes our
world. Certainly, they are influenced in this rule-bound
approach by the hordes of plaintiffs attorneys orbiting
around in America. However, this must be balanced by a
new Constitutional amendment the freedom to dream.
With this new amendment in hand, 19th century
concepts like civil service rules are going to give way more
and more to equitable options and the capacity to change
course when the situation is no longer the one present at the
time when the rules were conceived.
One-size-fits-all fringe benefits will yield
to life stage benefits in which individuals will have much
more flexibility than ever before to design their own benefit
package to best meet the needs of their personal
characteristics such as age, or their family structure.
This author has always found it very strange,
for example, that many organizations provide the wonderful
benefit of dental insurance whether or not an employee has
any teeth left. In contrast, employees with young families are
likely to have significantly different insurance needs than
people with no children. The older we get the more important
long-term care insurance will become as a cornerstone fringe
Allowing people to work in environments in
which they can design their own fate more than ever before in
organizational history is the wave of the future.
Governments have not necessarily been flexible trend-setters in matters of employment, but
that will change just as Americas economy overall is
Why not be ahead of the curve and ask
yourself or challenge yourself to consider the degree to which
open and honest communications, and the freedom to dream about
better public service exists in your organization? If
this dream management approach does not exist, if the
organization instead is modeled after an inflexible prior
generation model, take action to change that. Do it now
before you end up forgetting the importance of dreams as
instruments to reshape our country and our own lives.
The HR Doctor http://www.hrdr.net/