Maybe an entrepreneur and anarchist have more in common than most people think. John Mackey’s Whole Foods revolution and Tod Murphy’s Farmer’s Diner both share one thing in common as managers: they have disregarded and rejected the norms surrounding their respective industries and have forged new paths to reshape the food industry, arguably much like an anarchist does with a governing system. Although some may argue that they are both simply entrepreneurs, it seems to me that these two men cannot simply be thrown into the typical definition of an entrepreneur:
a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, esp. a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
Therefore, it seems to me that their vision for the future and the principles they run their businesses on classify them as something more than just an entrepreneur. Could they be closer to business anarchists? They both possess the knowledge and hope that their businesses have the potential to alter the direction of the food industry as a whole. So, what can we learn as managers from these two men?
Although most entrepreneurs are not as successful (let alone as visionary) as these two men, their leadership and management styles reveal two important lessons to be considered before we enter the wide world of management. These lessons are not revolutionary by any means, just sometimes overlooked and/or forgotten.
Lesson #1: The ways of the past may not be the best ways for the future.
It’s going to be difficult when we first enter the working world to drastically alter or reject certain norms if in an entry-level position. However, as our careers evolve, complacency may become customary and accepted with regard to our roles and behaviors. Mackey and Murphy remind us that even the most entrenched practices and expectations need revamped and reevaluated from time to time. Much like the mentality of anarchy, constantly questioning and challenging is key to improvement and change. Although this is a seemingly demanding call to action for change, I think that even the smallest critical thought or change of ways have more potential than we think to affect the ways of the future. This may sound very idealistic, I know, but important that we at least try to keep in mind the bigger picture and find ways to make things better for ourselves, other people and most importantly for the greater cause we are trying to pursue.
Lesson #2: Mackey teaches us to remember that organizations are most importantly about people.
By rejecting the commonplace practices of how employees are hired, promoted and even managed, Mackey’s anarchical view of managing people has led him to arguably have one of the best companies to work for in the country. Why is this so? From his willingness to pay for all of his employee’s health insurance to the highly decentralized and regional decision making processes, Mackey puts his own unique twist on formal organizational structure and manages his people to reflect the way in which I think he would want to be managed himself. Sometimes, the stress and pressure to accomplish formal goals and tasks can blind us from taking time to think about the people who are actually going to achieve these goals. Sounds pretty familiar to the human relations model discussed in the text…right? So let’s consider Mackey’s case as one of the most illustrative examples of the impact that the human relations model can potentially have when applied in an organization (if implemented properly, of course). And, who would have thought that this model could have ever related to a manager with anarchy inherent in his management.