Reflections and the Work Ahead in 2020

Wishing all the readers of this blog seasons greetings and best wishes for 2020. Thank you for continuing to follow along.

I have had a regular practice on reflecting on the year of work at the end of each year. That reflection is also an opportunity to set some goals for the year ahead. I missed last year’s opportunity in the rush. Here is this year’s reflection and some plans for 2020.

Reflections on The Year that Was

Innovation is Work. Hard Work.

Across a number of work, board and other advisory roles this year I have been working on innovation in its many forms. None of it has been easy. All of it has been hard work with ups and downs, setbacks and real need for persistence. Much of it reflects the adage that ‘most overnight successes are a decade’s work.’

Above all, this year has reiterated the need to be clear on the problems that innovation is seeking to solve. Those problems shouldn’t be assumptions. They should come from listing and engaging the market and also from ongoing testing in the market. The path to success is not paved by genius or talent. The path to success is hard work, persistence and iteration.

Persistence includes the need to push through in face of failure. Let the doubters and the critics have their say, but focus, set goals and keep pushing for change.

Transformation isn’t the work of a Hero. It is a Community effort

We often see transformation expressed as the work of a hero (my choice of gendered language is deliberate). Transformation is the opposite of an individual effort. Transformation is the work of a community coming together to scale change and to build something new that leverages their collective talents and fulfils their collective potential. That work must include everyone and leverage their many diverse contributions.

You can never forget that your work exists in, for and depends on a community. I had doubts this year on whether another International Working Out Loud week was needed. However, the response of the global WOL community to taking the inspiration of a WOLWeek and making it their own showed me that I was wrong. Sometimes you don’t understand the value of your own work until you see it in the community context.

The organisational design challenge at present is scaling change. We are iterating towards new solutions that leverage accountability, transparency and alignment to accelerate adaptation. Encouraging and enabling communities to come together to lead their own transformation in relation to the opportunities they see and the talents that they have. The skills of community management and agile change will be critical in the decade to come.

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Collaboration

Collaboration matters more than ever to the strategy and success of organisations. All organisations need to be leveraging the collective potential of their people to create new value.

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More effective and more valuable collaboration is the key ingredient in organisations addressing their challenges with speed and effectiveness.  I recently posted an overview of my learnings from the last decade of collaboration. If I would add anything to those insights, it is the importance of taking a relationship view over a transactional one and keeping clear the differences between chat, conversation and collaboration which is more important with the rise of new work apps.

Aware Aligned Action

Earlier this year, I shared some insights into the drivers of value. Keeping value at the centre of our work remains key.

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Personal Leadership

The pressures of the work this year made it clearer to me that personal leadership is a key part of success in the modern era of work. The pressures will not grow less. We need to make choices and take action on our work and our lives to give ourselves back control. Those choices most importantly involve saying no and setting boundaries.

Those boundaries include setting digital boundaries in an era where there are more addictive demands on our attention. Unplugging, meeting face to face, finding time to read, converse and relax became ever so important in 2019. Trust and understanding come from shared context and deep relationships and that take time, effort and engagement. Rapid digital conversation can give us chat, but conversation and collaboration require us to give and to invest more.

The Work Ahead in 2020

I sat down on Monday night and mapped my 2020 workload. 2020 promises to be a year that is busy with activity, projects, deliverables, learning and commitments. Across my work, consulting, advisory and board roles, I will be stepping up to the next level of activity.

At the same time I am also planning to take on some additional creative challenges and set some boundaries so there will be great demand for creative solutions and a real continuing to learn the lessons of mindful choices, personal purpose and productivity. Busy isn’t an answer or an excuse.  Busy is a challenge we must all beat. I will be stretched in the year ahead.

I will continue to focus throughout the year on the future of work, the power of community and accelerating the value of collaboration. As noted above, this is core capability to underpin all of the activity and opportunity ahead. Excitingly, we are increasingly seeing organisations all around the world focus on the potential of collaboration and working out loud. Stay tuned as I will share the lessons of this work on this blog.

Reviewing my 2017 reflections and the update for 2018, the elements highlighted still hold as areas of work. In 2020 two additional areas, seem urgently in need of work: enabling the continuity of a functional civil society in a global economy going through transformative change and addressing our sustainable future.  In 2020, two challenges will be on the forefront of the work that I do:

  • supporting the transformation of disability, health and care through enable consumer choice and control and new ways of efficiently managing care through LanternPay.
  • enabling new degrees of freedom in work and scaling agile change in communities to deliver the innovation, transformation and human work we need through Change Agents Worldwide.  That includes finishing the book and addressing the themes that I discuss in this Disrupt Sydney talk.

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