Sunday, 6 October 2013

The re-thinking of work and doing business

In the field of social business, many are the experts and professionals suggesting the re-thinking of work and doing business. 

The premise is that today, we are unlikely to create value in our personal, professional and organisational lives by adopting the same traditional frameworks and approaches used in the past.

To operate successfully and meaningfully, we need to look beyond those models, and change old mindsets to the way of conceptualising work, working relationships and doing business.

I found particularly fascinating Stowe Boyd's (web anthropologist, futurist, author and analyst at GigaOM research) idea of 'a reworking of work'. In 'We don’t need a rethinking of management. We need a reworking of work' he writes:

In the postnormal era where we now live and work, the great majority of work performed by people is non-routine and cognitive. The routine and non-cognitive work is rapidly being handled over to robots and software, and there is a reƫmergence of craft work where artisanal craftspeople can command a premium for high quality goods. Management is becoming a distributed and emergent property of people working in social networks, instead of an extrinsic and imposed property of hierarchy.

Everybody has to be innovating in business, not just a cadre of managers. I’m not saying that all people should be innovating all the time, every second. But every person should be free to innovate in their work, because all work is personal. And because all work is also social, work networks need to innovate to stay ahead of market conditions, respond to client demands, and offer new ways to deliver higher value more quickly.

The days when an isolated group of efficiency or innovation experts owned that, is long past.

So we don’t need a rethinking of management, we need a reworking of work: one that is in tune with 21st century realities and not the last echoes of 20th century management dogma.”

Suggesting an operating model of doing business different from the past, in 'The Operating Model that is eating the world', Aaron Dignan (CEO of Undercurrent) also notices:

Today’s fastest growing, most profoundly impactful companies are using a completely different operating model. These companies are lean, mean, learning machines. They have an intense bias to action and a tolerance for risk, expressed through frequent experimentation and relentless product iteration.

They are obsessed with company culture and top tier talent, with an emphasis on employees that can imagine, build, and test their own ideas.

They are open, connected, and build with and for their community of users and co-conspirators. They are comfortable with the unknown – business models and customer value are revealed over time. They are driven by a purpose greater than profit; each has its own aspirational “dent in the universe.”

This makes me think of Will McInnes's words shared in his book, 'Culture Shock': 

"A new wave of disruptive organisations have already understood and embraced the need of shifting patterns in the way they are doing business. These organisations have stopped adopting the old command and control approach and instead have move towards building a progressive workplace where organisational democracy and intelligent use of technology help their people to collaborate and move faster."

Recently, RSA Animate has created a video 'Re-Imagining work'. It is an animated film which prompts us to re-think on where and how we work:

Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, imagines what might be possible if more organisations embraced the full, empowering potential of technology and encouraged a truly open, collaborative and flexible working culture.”


With a visual shared in an article on Forbes, 'The evolution of work', Jacob Morgan shows how work is evolving and what areas are being impacted:

1. From hierarchies to a more flattened structure

2. From fixed working hours to flexible working hours

3. From hoarded information to shared information

4. From fear-based leadership to empowering and inspiring

5. From on-premise to the cloud

6. From email as primary form of communication to being a secondary form of communication

7. From climbing the corporate ladder to creating the ladder

8. From siloed and fragmented to connected and engaged

9. From working at the office to working anywhere


I would like to conclude these marginalia with digital analyst Brian Solis's words. In 'Overcoming The Tech Trap: Why the Future of Business Is Relevance', he reminds us that:

Fixation on technology isn't the catalyst to bring about business transformation. New technology coupled with an old way of thinking inhibits progress. The future of business comes down to tying business-level outcomes and objectives to the promise and purpose of what disruptive or emerging technology represents.

As someone pushing for change, start with a vision that articulates how you will earn relevance and preference among connected customers and employees in addition to those who have supported your growth thus far. 

Then use technology and corresponding strategies to bring that vision to life. This not only helps you avoid technology traps but this sense of higher purpose also contributes to a culture of innovation where resilience and relevance become byproducts of a more connected, human and empathetic business.”

The re-thinking of work and doing business is a topic that fascinates me. There are many different elements and perspectives to take in consideration when looking at it. I will continue to explore it.

If you would like to share something, please feel free to use the comment section.