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The Future of Work – Richard Florida’s view

Dealing with knowledge makes the creation of new knowledge and innovation paramount. According to Carnegie Mellon professor Richard Florida there is a “creative class” of workers rising that make up 30% of workers in the developed world, and up to 50% in the US – as much as industry and service combined.  In “The Rise of the Creative Class” he writes: “They thrive of technology, talent and tolerance. But to develop the economy, the creative class has to collaborate through human contact and networks in real communities and places.” He highlights the need for tolerant, open communities as a basis for success. Stubbornness and intolerance hinder the creative elite massively.  This becomes important as not machines, capital or land are the competitive advantages, but the ability to attract and make productive these creative talents. And tolerance is a most important factor in this – patience combined with trust.

The German magazine „Brand Eins“ is dedicated to exploring these new work realities. For years, they have covered the changing nature of work. “Digital Natives” is one of the names for this rising group – people who grew up in a digital environment and have their expectations set by the web. A statement in a recent issue says: “We want to work not tied to a place, but have room to experiment, have high transparency. We want to know the visions of our colleagues. We want mentors, not bosses”. Trust, purpose and a partner-like relationship with their company is the culture they hope for. “I don’t want to find purpose in a world-tour when I retire, but daily. There is a constant evaluation: does this make sense here? Can I get something out of this job? Why am I doing this? It’s not that I have to work for a non-profit, but I want to know that I am doing good work”.

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A Network of Brains – Driving Breakthrough Performance in the New Work Environment

This week I was sitting in front of a webcast looking at charts that say that everything is changing. I am bit tired of oversized pitches for some HR consultancy – but this week’s presentation by the Corporate Leadership Council did have something going for it.

The intro was familiar: work is increasing, higher profits can only happen through higher profitability, current skills are not enough. But then there was a twist to it that I found new and enlightening:

“to get breakthrough performance, organizations need to focus on improving all employees’ ability to improve the performance of others.”

Did I hear that correct? “of others”? So, the focus on individual goals and bonuses are not helpful anymore? Rather than simplifying goals and performance measures, organizations should help employees with the complexity. Take this graph as an example. Only 23% find their job reflected in the performance management system. NOT EVEN A QUARTER!

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Why is that so? Take these next two graphs as an example. Stuff is more interconnected. Goals are multidimensional and dynamic.

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So, CLC came up with the model of adding Network Performance to Individual Performance to come up with Enterprise Contribution. I find this fitting. Not only personal effectiveness is considered. How an individual interacts with others is becoming ever more important for the business. Right on!

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How many people do that currently? CLC came up with a number of only 20%. Only one in five. Why is that?

Most people can’t voice these new competencies well. Maybe managers don’t have a full understanding of the interactions, and for sure they are not familiar with the competencies that drive network performance. And the current PM systems don’t support this networked understand, leading to working ratings and skewed assessments, as well as wrong role definitions.

Good input that webinar. It is a fascinating question how you orchestrate performance in an ecosystem? Henning Kagermann, former CEO of SAP used to call it “network of brains” – how do you manage such a network of brains? Becoming verbal about it might be a first step, but there is more questions than answers at this point.

Filed under: future of work

The Future of Work – Peter Drucker’s view

Fredmund Malik took Peter Drucker’s view further and discussed the implications for corporations. According to his world-view, the main challenge of the future is to manage complexity and adjust to environments. He centers his approach on the Viable-System-Model that highlights the adaptability of organizations to their environment. It requires leaders and workers to be more versed in the ideas of change, organic systems and whole-system perspectives.

Telekom HR-chief and former Lufthansa-HR-head Michael Sattelberger took his philosophy of talent development to Germany’s biggest telecommunications company: “we build a talent environment rather then a drill-based military-like complex. Talents want participation.” He highlights the need for people to not be stuck in a job too long, exchange with peers and shape the strategy of the business they work for.  “Companies have to become more democratic and give talents room to participate and create options on the future”[1]. This also means that people need to account for more responsibility for their careers, take on part-time engagements and strive for flexibility and experience. It also means that jobs will follow people and companies need to offer perspectives for the employees they want to attract and retain.(see Brand Eins 04/2010)

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