Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 31

Don't Dehumanize Your Organization

Marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin says that organizations should learn from the many managerial mistakes made at airports.

Godin recently wrote in his personal blog that airports "dehumanize" nearly everything about the process of traveling in their effort to provide on-time flights, happy travelers and satisfied workers. However, he says this "dehumanizing" method frequently has the opposite effect.

In his blog, Godin identifies mistakes that he believes airports make and that organizations and their managers should avoid. For example:

  • No one appears to be in charge. "The airport doesn't appear to have a CEO, and if it does, you never see her, hear about her or interact with her in any way," he writes. "When the person at the top doesn't care, it filters down."
  • Data isn't used in decision making. Airport security "is ruled by superstition, not fact," Godin notes. "They act without data and put on a quite serious but ultimately useless bit of theater."
  • Everyone is treated the same. "Effective organizations treat different people differently," he writes. "While there's some window dressing at the edges ... in general, airports insist that the one size they've chosen to offer fits all."
  • The working atmosphere is sterile. "Everyone who passes through leaves no trace, every morning starts anew," Godin notes. "There are no connections between people, either fellow passengers or the staff. No one says, ‘welcome back,' and that's honest because no one feels particularly welcome."
  • Employees aren't having any fun. "Most people who work at airports have precisely the same demeanor as people who work at a cemetery," he writes. "The system has become so industrialized that personal expression is apparently forbidden."

This article is from the Feb. 11, 2013 issue.

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