The Future of High-Performance Work Systems – Towards Meaningful Work
A couple of years back the folks over at oDesk put together a rather interesting and insightful YouTube video clip around The Future of Work, which lasts for a little bit over 6 minutes, that surely is worth while going through, specially, the last minute and a half, as it would remind plenty of people how close it is to the well known series of the “Did You Know?” videos. The clip comes to ponder about the future of work and how social computing tools are helping redefine the current workplace as we know it. Two years later, it looks like pretty much all of the main key messages from that video, still resonate quite a bit, thus making us all wonder whether things haven’t changed that much after all. You would expect that they may well have, but have they really?
Well, I am not sure what you would think about, whether we have shifted gears and moved one step further, perhaps two, from where we were in 2009, but I strongly believe that we surely have made some giant leaps into embracing, and adopting social networking tools as one of the most powerful methods to help redefine how work gets done nowadays. However, if there is anything clear coming out from back then and into today, after watching that video clip, is that a few of the annotations made during that six minute long clip are eventually a reality just two years later, in 2011, if not even further! Let’s have a look with some examples:
Priceless quotes like “Project teams at work are beginning to resemble movie production teams“, or “Although home is still the most common location, millions of virtual team members work from just about anywhere“, or “Employers will have access to a larger and more skilled workforce“, or even “Individuals will have more freedom and power than ever before” (One of my favourite quotes, by the way!), come to confirm, quite clearly, how we may be living through a time in which the future of work is a whole lot more transparent, flat, competitive, and on demand than ever before thanks to that emergence of social networking tools that we have mentioned above already and that are taking the business environment by storm.
And when talking about competitiveness we should probably not forget about high performing teams either. And how they themselves, when making use of social software tools, keep augmenting, even more, their already high performing working methods, to the point where the time finding the right experts has now gone down from several hours a week, to perhaps just 5 to 10 minutes. Or how the time to search AND find the right information at the right time has been also improved dramatically helping those high performing teams reach new levels of engagement, responsiveness and collaborative, as well as innovative, interactions by their own urge to keep up cultivating and nurturing those personal business relationships that they have been building over time.
However, we should not forget that what businesses out there would be the most interested in at the moment would be what my good friend Dr. Anne Marie McEwan calls Value Creation that she has blogged about earlier on today under the suggestive title “High-Performance Work Systems“. How it is all about efficiency and effectiveness (Whether amongst individuals or between groups, i.e. teams, networks and / or communities), about embarking on a constant learning curve that never ceases to stop, as it provides an open window into meaningful, motivating and engaging work. Some really good stuff in there!
In a way, it reminds me of another blog post I put together a couple of months back of how this helping redefine the future of (meaningful) work AND of the workplace, is also helping redefine the role of the Knowledge Worker him/herself, which just recently, a couple of days ago, my good friend, Harold Jarche beautifully reflected on as well into re-shaping up “The new knowledge worker“, one who seems to breathe plenty of critical thinking and a rather empowering inner urge to want to make things right or as Thomas Stewart would say: “A knowledge worker is someone who gets to decide what he or she does each morning“. With a purpose, if I may add.
Mind you though, Harold pretty much nails it as well when he comes to conclude that not all of the work is done. As much as those high performing teams, networks and communities are dictating how work happens around them and their networked structures, there is still a larger population of knowledge workers we cannot afford neglecting, nor ignore, and leave behind, just because they haven’t embarked on embracing social networks as part of their game. It will be, indeed, our role to lead and help facilitate those folks come on board as well, at the their own pace, at their own time, i.e. when they feel it’s the right one, with their own rules, with enough preparation to make it work for them and their needs. And somehow, like I have already been hinting out there on one of my recent Google Plus posts, I suspect that the glue part of the organisation that’s going to have a paramount role, if not far too critical to fail altogether in provoking such outrageously optimistic change into bringing some sensemaking to truly realise The Social Enterprise vision, would be Human Resources, our good old HR organisation(s); as the one and only, Marcia Conner, described really nicely in a recent article over at FastCompany under the heading “Now that people finally matter to businesses, HR is the next big thing“.
It surely is! In fact, it’s been all along! Even more, from a Social Enterprise perspective, it’s perhaps the final frontier for all of us, knowledge (networked) workers, out there to claim that our work is now done!
Alas, we are not there just yet. Still plenty of work to be done! So we better roll up our sleeves and keep driving innovation further into meaningful work to help shape up the future of the workplace, our workplace: networked, more trustworthy, transparent, engaged, open and nimbler, in short, empowering altogether for ALL of us. Not just a few.