Updated: Jul 3
There's a big chasm between the shop floor and the upper management team, guarded by terrified Trolls appearing when no-one is looking to steal from their victims - subordinates who can do very little but soak up the effects of being shut down when they say something of importance. Things like:
"This doesn't work very well - I've a better idea."
"I'm not sure this is the best method for that process."
"Isn't there an easier way to deal with this situation?"
Such quotes are tentative explorations of an identity trying to establish a thought form to develop an original idea. Trolls aren't interested in any identity bar their own, they want power and they stand at the bridge. You don't get to cross that bridge unless they say so, and if any idea of yours gets to the other side of the bridge where the management team are sitting, it's probably going to be their idea by the time it gets there (and look completely different from your own).
A healthy company has a positive environment to work in and a vision of where it's going, with a mission shared across the mindset and a goal everyone understands, so this is of course an extremely demotivational template on which to be running things. People want to be proud of their logo, their corporate identity, and would like to be proud of a lot more. When the company is one they are happy working in, that satisfaction is multiplied a thousand-fold. Where engagement is allowed to lift morale, productivity and quality go up, too.
Middle-Man Trolls, however, are often to be found determinedly blocking the path from rational managerial concepts of workplace positivity to shop floor ideology so that the two cannot meet and get creative.
The only solution to this problem is to dissolve the fear. Those power-crazed mid-managers (who cleverly disguise as 'anything but' in front of key personnel) are likely to consider themselves great at their job, with resultant disloyalty to the company being beyond the remit of their thinking. The fearful tend to attack before thinking, and that's what has to change. Teaching an old Troll new tricks is a bit of a hard call, but it's not impossible as this research paper attests.
Trust is a commodity we're used to throwing away - you could say we're actively encouraged to do so, with memes flying around about casting off toxic people and selecting your friendship circle based on how good they make you feel. Never mind how much history you've shared, or how difficult you both might be, or what one has done to hurt the other that the other finds it really hard to see. The trend is to push an element of psychology that's far from trustworthy, tempting us into the pockets of people who want us to believe that their clan is the best in the world and we're nothing if we're not in it. Danger, danger, Daleks are approaching....
Gut instinct is trustworthy. When you're talking to someone and you know they're talking straight without a script or a fiscal obsession... you'll know these people when you find them. Right now (imho) this is the 'birds of a feather' thing having its time, albeit somewhat overdue. If you've found yourself with a working partnership that resonates this way, open up to it. Have some deep conversations.
There's nothing like a deep conversation to reveal the ring of truth in a harmonic, where you might suddenly find a struck chord opening that box we need to step out of if we're going to find our way to a paradigm that actually works, and my guess is it's the bright alloy of engineering, psychology and science that's going to beat a path to that particular solution.