The Now of Work

When you spend a lot of time focused on helping organizations prepare their people for the future of work, you are in danger of forgetting to describe how the present state of work has shifted. 

Agile is the Goal

Only a few years ago, advocates of organizational change were actively proposing new models for the organization. Terms like Responsive organization, Holocratic organization,  Adaptive organization and the like were being promoted widely in the search for influence. These models all shared similar goals of aligning the organization around purpose, improving its effectiveness and enabling self-empowered and self-organising teams to get their work done with less dysfunction. 

In Australia, at least, the debate has a clear winner. You know an idea is hot when all your inbound client queries are asking about it.  Agile is the management practice that has swept  out from software development and now captures the attention of organizational leaders. Agile has the diversity of approaches and the flexibility to mean different things for these organizations. However all of them share a goal of being more innovative for customers, more effective for their purpose and more engaging for their people. 

Digital Transformation is the Work

Everything is or will be digital. We are no longer just building digital channels or digitising process.  We aren’t just moving from on premise to the cloud or mobile.  When Microsoft is talking AI first applications and the battle is for the winning personal assistant, we are beginning a new era of always connected, data-driven experiences powered by massive computing power. 

Enabling digital transformation is the core program of work. Radically better customer and people experiences are now possible. New and existing competitors are bringing them to market at the pace of agile projects and the aggressive disregard for traditional business models of startups. 

People are the Key

We’ve spent the last decades focused on the technology opportunities. Organizations are now realising the value of their people. Restructures and downsizing still dominate the structural adjustment across industry as it adapts to new leaner digital models. 

However, positive signals suggest the future is not entirely bots. People experience is on the rise as a topic of debate. Organizations are as focused as ever on attracting and retaining the talent to win in a digital economy. This includes an awareness that climbing a greasy pole of hierarchy is not everyone’s sole goal. 

Importantly, Organizations are investing in the capabilities of their people to survive and thrive in this digital landscape. New capabilities of learning, leadership, collaboration and innovation are keenly sought. People need new practices for a digital economy and I’m seeing clients tackling personal knowledge mastery, working out loud, Adaptive leadership and lean experimentation as a result. 

We mustn’t forget the fitness of a digital organisation is its ability to learn & adapt at scale. More an more organizations are preparing people and systems for that competitive advantage in a complex changing world. 

Collaboration is the Platform

Last week was a big week for collaboration in the organization. Microsoft put Teams at the heart of its Microsoft365 strategy and recommitted to Yammer with a new roadmap to support wider ‘outer loop’ collaboration. Workplace by Facebook announced Walmart had chosen them bringing on the world’s largest private client to collaboration across its wide community of associates. 

Collaboration is the platform for digital transformation.  Working out loud brings transparency to foster alignment and accountability. A new openness enables learning, generosity discovery and serendipity of work. Open work helps organizations solve problems faster and drive digital cultural change more edffectively. Ultimately  open collaboration connects customer need to the insights and capabilities of the organization fostering innovation. 

In a connected digital age, nobody is an island of performance. Powering our people with new effective collaboration tools that support agility and enable digital transformation is the key challenge people are tackling now. 

Don’t wait for some abstract future to make change. That moment will be too late. Culture change and new work practices are endless journeys of mastery.  Start now. Your competitors will have. 

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