A Manifesto on the Future of WorkA Manifesto on the Future of Work https://jasonlauritsen.com/wp-content/themes/corpus/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg 150 150 Jason Lauritsen https://jasonlauritsen.com/wp-content/themes/corpus/images/empty/thumbnail.jpg
Last fall, a small group of people who care mightily about human beings and their experiences with work, came together in a cabin in the middle of everywhere to dream, imagine and rethink work. I write about and think about work most of the time, it’s my passion. And it was fun to come together with a group of people who were equally as passionate to talk about this topic.
Work is important. It’s how we as humans define ourselves. It, in no small way, gives our lives purpose and momentum. And, we aren’t getting it right. Too many people are struggling each day to get out of bed and head into a workplace that strips them of their identity, stiffles their creativity, and otherwise makes them unhappy. It’s a tragedy and it doesn’t have to be like this.
This group assembled with no purpose beyond discovery, learning and connecting. But the conversation was too compelling and the ideas too powerful. So, a Manifesto was written (shared below). The Manifesto shares the collective thoughts and ideas of this tribe that had gathered: Joe Gerstandt, Charlie Judy, Jamie Notter, Janyne Peek Emsick, Jen Benz, Eric Winegardner, James Papiano, Stuart Chittenden, Mike Wagner, David Ballard, and Maddie Grant, who penned this beauty as only she could. It is not meant to be the answers, but to serve as a starting point for further discussion. I hope that it will stimulate your thinking as it has ours.
The future of work starts right here, right now.
- Work matters. We want work to suck less – for everyone, not just the few lucky ones.
- The distinction between “work” and “life” is artificial and a barrier to leveraging both the power of the individual and that of the organization.
- Work is the expending of effort for the creation of value. If there’s no effort, but it’s still considered work, it should be automated; if there’s no value, the work is pointless and wasteful.
- Work is the process of creating something for the purpose of human flourishing. Let’s get rid of what doesn’t do that. Work has meaning for every individual. Work involves identity.
- Work involves a sense of belonging. Work has meaning for the networks each individual is connected to. Work has meaning for the local community and for the global community. Work involves social responsibility.
- We need to bring our whole true selves to work. Human-ness has value for the organization.
- Our best work is at the intersection of what we like doing, what we are good at doing, and what we get paid for. Our goal is for those three things to blend more. Flow has value for the organization.
- Work is about learning. Learning is never complete and we have a responsibility as individuals to makes sure we’re always learning. We also have a responsibility as organizations to provide resources and environments for learning. This is not a choice, it’s an imperative. Learning has value for the organization.
- Work involves collaboration with others. Work doesn’t happen in a vaccuum. Collaboration – both internal and external – has value for the organization.
- We have a need to communicate and share what we do and how we each do it differently. We work better in the open. Transparency has value for the organization.
- We are able to do more than one thing. Our individual skills, whatever they are, have value and that value is marketable.
- The formula for marketability is the same for everyone but the weight of each component is different and may change over time. Agility, defined as the capability to evolve with our networks, has value for the organization.
- We are connected and we bring networks with us to work. Our connectedness has value for the organization.
- We will feel a sense of belonging and purpose if we’re involved in the direction and purpose of the system. Ownership has value for the organization.
- We build relationships. Relationships – and the human emotions involved in nurturing them – have value for the organization.
- We need to give as well as receive constructive feedback. Truth has value for the organization.
- We will trust our employers if our employers trust us. Trust has value for the organization.
- We have intuition as well as intellect. Intuition has value for the organization.
- We all aspire to love what we do. To love where we work and who we work with. Love has value for the organization.
- Markets are conversations and organizations can harness conversations in order to create value.
- The pace of change is accelerating. The only way an organization will keep up is through its people, who have a natural ability to pay attention.
- Individuals represent nodes and networks. Organizations need to recognize the value of building relationships with networks.
- Proximity is no longer a prerequisite for relationships and networks. Let’s make the technologies that enable virtual communication invisible and ubiquitous, so we can just get on with it.
- Organizations need to better understand individual talent, and they need to better understand how to communicate the requirements for needs-based work.
- Individual talent means individual customization; which means an exponentially longer tail of marketable and monetizable skills.
- Individual talent means hyperlocal talent; invisible technology means that hyperlocal talent has global reach.
- Individuals have a wealth of so-called “soft” attributes that provide organizational value and are therefore marketable and monetizable. Let’s start paying for skills like the ability to:
- build relationships
- act as a bridge
- distill information
- focus deeply
- see the bigger picture
- tell a story
- manage complexity
- draw meaning
- write persuasively
- manage group dynamics
- solve open-ended problems
- Strategic transparency is the only way to achieve trust; trust is the only way to maximize the value of the people in a system.
- Trust provides structure and predictability in a much more powerful way than hierarchies and organizational charts do.
- Strategic transparency enables clarity over control, also known as scalable simplicity – the capacity for all parts of the system to work towards the common goal of the system.
- Decentralized leadership requires less middle management, but more middle level thinking.
- The role of management is to be the “keeper of the story”. To make sure there is transparency flowing from top echelon to front line.
- The role of management is to facilitate difficult conversations and manage conflict.
- The role of management is to facilitate the finding of solutions; not to dictate them.
- The role of management is to be the “connector”, to match people with the right skills and abilities to projects where those skills are most needed.
- The role of management is to be the “bridger”, to protect and ensure inclusion – to ensure that different voices and perspectives are heard and involved in the work of the organization at all levels.
- The role of management is to eradicate the fallacy of “best practices” – to ensure there is constant learning and agility in business processes.
- The role of management is to be the “space-maker”, to ensure learning can happen on a continuous basis by providing containers where experimentation is encouraged.
- The role of management is to remove hurdles to engagement.
- The role of management is to release the flow of information and data and to get it to the right people at the right time. The new workplace is data-driven; but information is not wisdom. It’s the human analysis of the data that drives value.
- Data is the start of experimentation and learning, not the end.
- The role of management is to hire talent that is agile enough to shift and flow based on market need.
- The role of management is to get out of the way.
14. The new human workplace has a responsibility for the sustainability of all the resources it uses, including human beings. The new human workplace therefore has a responsibility for social good…
It sounds like you had a fascinating get together of the “tribe”, and a useful one! This is something I think about a lot along with my colleagues – about 50 of us who work around the world from home, cafes, gardens, trains etc. We’re connected and highly productive but also liberated from old ways of working tied to 9-5 in an office. I recently read an excellent book ‘The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information age’ by Pekka Himanen. I think he puts it excellently by using the “hacker ethic” as an example work with passion, and as distinct from the “protestant work ethic” (duty, drudge) on which most modern work in corporates is based. You may also find the thoughts of Paul Miller, who heads up the Digital Workplace Forum which I work for, interesting. He talks about the technology that underpins this new liberated world of work: http://digitalworkplacebook.com