Work Ahead for 2017: Foundations, Personal & Organisational Work

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As the end of November approaches, that time has come again when we must consider whether we have the right initiatives in place for ourselves and our organisations as we get ready for 2017.  How are you transforming the capabilities and work practices in your organisation to make sure that your teams are more effective in their work?

Why is Work Changing?

The way we work is fundamentally changing under the influence of five main drivers:

  • Pervasive Global connection: As internet connectivity has gone mobile, we now have the ability to connect with, to converse with and to see the whole system of our stakeholders any time anywhere.
  • Automation: Digital technology has enabled us to automate simple tasks and string together increasingly complex processes and systems.
  • Data and Analytics: As digital connection and digital automation expands so does our ability to gather data and analyse that data to provide insight and run complex algorithmic processes.
  • Changing Consumer Expectations: As consumers are exposed to the potential of digital through consumer technology and consumer services, the businesses must meet disruptive and exacting standards for convenience, service, value and speed.
  • Accelerating Pace of Change: Disruption, greater responsiveness to change and ever-shortening cycles of feedback are the new norm for business and our work practices must adapt to enable our businesses to keep up.

We have already seen great change in digital transformation.

Further dramatic changes in the nature of work are here but ‘not yet widely distributed’ to borrow the phrase of William Gibson..

2017 Future of Work Recommendations

With these pressures on the way we work, every business should have a focus on how it is changing the way its people work and the practices that will support ongoing transformation of work. Here are my recommendations on what work you should have on your backlog for the new year:

Foundations:

These five are in place in your organisation today. However, they may not be well understood, managed or serving your purpose.  As you look to 2017 it is always worthwhile to ensure that the foundations are sound and well aligned.

2017-foundations

Purpose: Be clear on your personal purpose. Look for that purpose in the work you do. Clarify the shared purpose in your organisation. Don’t impose a purpose designed around the leadership table. Discover the purpose through the stories and the work that bring your organisation together.

Strategic Value: What value are you trying to create to fulfil your purpose? What kinds of value matter most to your stakeholders? When do they know you are creating value? What measures tell you that you are achieving your goals?

Networks: To compete in the network era, your organisation must be networked. How are you bringing people together to connect, to share, to solve problems and to respond to the networks around your organisation? The technology matters less than the connection, the behaviours and the shared purpose. Are you clear on the strategic value of your communities, are they well supported with sponsorship, investment and community management so as to accelerate their value creation?

Culture: Move beyond words on a poster. Move beyond generic platitudes. Move beyond an agglomeration of individual team cultures. What specific values are shared across your organisation? Why do these help fulfil your purpose? How do those values translate to expectations about behaviours in and across your teams? Is the culture in your organisation effective for your purpose and the value you are seeking to create? How do you personal role model the behaviours you expect from others?

Employee Experience: Are you working somewhere that values the employee experience and is adapting it to changing work and changing roles in the organisation? How have you aligned your employee experience to your desired customer experience? Does your workplace create rich value for employees and enable them to express their potential in fulfilment of purpose? Does your employee experience work as well for the one-hour temporary contract worker as the long term employee? Does it work equally well for all levels of the hierarchy and all corners of your network?

Personal Effectiveness:  Four Key Future of Work Practices

These four personal practices are enablers of the future of work. They enable an individual employee to deliver greater value in their work by responding to the opportunities and information in their environment. Agile and adaptive they empower employees to continuously improve and innovate.

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Working Out Loud: Sharing work in progress in a purposeful way with relevant communities will accelerate learning, sharing and feedback cycles. Start working out loud now.

Personal Knowledge Management: Learn how to turn the personal information flood into effective sense making, learning and sharing. A critical skill to make sense of complexity and to leverage networks for learning.

Adaptive Leadership: Enabling the rebel and the change agent to lead more effectively in any system. Improving understanding, influence and the increasing the breadth of leadership techniques to create collective change in any system.

Experimentation: Move beyond the limits of your expertise. Learn by doing. Resolve uncertainty through action. Shorten cycles of decision making and feedback to increase personal effectiveness.

Organisational Effectiveness: Scaling & Accelerating Change

Organisations are made up individuals. These four practices of organisational effectiveness scale and accelerate the personal practices through a focus on design of systems for connection, learning and adaptation.

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Open Collaborative Management: Middle managers are often those who find a change to digital ways of working most threatening and disrupting. Open up the work of management. Move management from planning, allocation and control to facilitation, alignment and coaching. Shorten cycles and improve the performance value of feedback. Foster the role of managers as network navigators and brokers. Management can be a critical point of leverage in achieving more open, more collaborative and more effective work.

Scalable Capability Development: Turn each employee’s learning into a contribution to scalable system for delivering strategic value. Create Big Learning systems that scale learning around strategic capabilities for the organisation’s success. Coordinate your learning agenda as an agile change program. Curate the capability building of your teams, leveraging learning from peer communities and leverage social learning to bring 70:20:10 and a performance-oriented approach to learning to life at scale and in the workplace.

Effective Networked Organisations: Take advantage of the networks in and around your organisation to rethink your business model and organisational design choices. Break the centralised/decentralised binary and move beyond hierarchy. Enable autonomy, foster alignment and improve effectiveness for purpose. Skill your teams to achieve effectiveness in the wirearchy. You don’t need to purchase a new management system. You need to adapt your approach to managing knowledge, trust, credibility and results to your purpose, culture and community.

Agile Innovation & Change: Adapt to the changing needs of the environment and stakeholders to deliver new value. Accelerate innovation and change through new approaches and by putting in place the systemic support for employee-led innovation, change and transformation to a more responsive organisation.

Simon Terry provides consulting, advice, speaking and thought leadership to global clients through his own consulting practice, and as a Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide, a network of progressive and passionate professionals, specializing in Future of Work technologies and practices.  The focus of Simon’s practice is assisting organizations to transform innovation, collaboration, learning and leadership. 

Changing Work is Hard

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Some time ago I published a post on five small changes that we can each make to make work more effective. Tanmay Vora turned the post into the great sketch above that has been widely shared. On the weekend I wondered whether all this sharing actually helped anyone to change their work. Tanmay and others responded that they were using the sketch as a guide to their work. However, my question remains open. Do we have as much change as we should? Do we act on the small ways to improve work?

Changing Work is Hard

Changing work is hard.  We would all like work to be more effective, but we continue to cling to ineffective practices. We know there are better ways but we don’t always use them. Why is there a gap between our future of work intent and action.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why changing work is difficult.

Reactive not Reflective: We are busy.  Being busy often deprives us of the time to reflect on how best to do our work or how we could improve our work.  While time pressures should present an incentive to plan a better way, we often think it is better to just start.  Take the time each day, if only for 5 minutes to reflect on how your work could be improved.

Habit: There is comfort in habit. Habits provide patterns of certainty in an incredibly volatile and uncertain world. Habits can be behaviours or habitual mindsets. Together they create ingrained and unthinking behaviours. Sending an email or organising a meeting is a routine next step and others will share the habit making it harder to break.  Find triggers for new habits. Make a choice to think and go another way and lead people away from bad habits.

Social Capital: Dave loves his meeting. Dave has perfected his meeting to suit his needs and his project. How do I tell him that it is a complete waste of everyone else’s time? We aren’t always great at feedback and we hate to put our accumulated social capital in jeopardy, particularly if what we are asking is out of the usual. Explore better ways of working with your work colleagues through collaborative coaching conversations. Encourage them to reflect and to help you find better ways of working too.

Fear: Our workplaces are full of fear. Fear power, fear of ostracism, fear of loss of status or wealth or purpose. Our workplaces put the full neurological gamut of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness under threat. Adding change to the mix risks upping the fear quotient. We need to make the benefits of change clear to ourselves first and then to others. We need to use these elements of our uncertainty to help us, not hinder us.

Conscious Incompetence: New skills are hard. They don’t work as well as our habits. We may have been unconsciously incompetent at our old approach, but as soon as we try something new we are conscious of the gap in our skills. Practice and experience is the only way to improve our skills. We need to do the work and get better.

Initiative: Nothing changes unless someone acts to influence change. We can wait for our boss or others to discover the change themselves.  However, to bring about change sooner we need to exercise individual leadership and take on the challenge of making change happen. We must be our own role models. We need to find our voice and lead with our actions to change the way we work.

 

Simon Terry provides consulting, advice, speaking and thought leadership to global clients through his own consulting practice, and as a Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide, a network of progressive and passionate professionals, specializing in Future of Work technologies and practices.  The focus of Simon’s practice is assisting organizations to transform innovation, collaboration, learning and leadership. 

Getting Past The Obvious

One of the commonest forms of corporate sabotage of change is to raise a difficult issue as an obvious objection. The challenge is not raising them but working to resolve them through conversation. Don’t accept the obvious.

Present a new idea or try to make a change in a large organisation and at some point you will encounter the following behaviour. Somebody will to raise a complex and difficult issue as an obvious barrier to the success of your project. They will frame their naysaying in the name of straight talk, speaking on behalf of others, being a devil’s advocate or even helpfully raising an issue that others may be too supportive or politically correct to discuss.

These conversations appear everywhere:

  • “We need to make changes to adapt to digital” “But, let’s look at these digital competitors. They are tiny and none of them are making money. Why should we copy them? We will have to give up a lot of margin if we do.”
  • “We are planning to be more diverse in our hiring” “But, and I hate to say this, if we are honest we haven’t found the talent available for the roles we have and I’m not even sure they are interested.”
  • “We want the organisation to be more collaborative” “But, we need to be realists and recognise we have demanding targets, a headcount reduction and if we asked them our people would tell you they are already busy”
  • “We want to be more innovative” “But, isn’t innovation just the latest consulting buzzword? Our customers don’t want costly innovation. They want a lower price”

The objection is carefully designed to appeal to an ‘obvious’ point and to make the speaker appear intelligent for having considered a wider range of issues than you have presented. Many of these issues are valid challenges that your project needs to address.  Many are also overblown or illusions. The challenge is that the speaker expects the ‘obvious’ to be a definitive answer. Even if you can create a conversation about ways to move forward past this issue, the speaker won’t be contributing to the solution.

Getting Past the Obvious

Here are some suggestions to avoid this issue

Anticipate the Obvious: If it is going to be raised anyway, it is better that you raise the issue yourself. Challenge yourself and your team to engage stakeholders early and flush out the obvious and not so obvious objections that might be in your path. Understanding the likely objections and potential responses is an important part of handling this challenge.  Preparation will also give you the best chance to dispute a throway remark in the moment with facts and evidence.

Hold the Tension: The person raising the obvious issue expects the conversation and your project to end. Resolving difficult issues requires hard conversations. Plan for this hard conversation and allow yourself the time to keep your stakeholders in this hard conversation until progress is made. Create an environment where this challenging issue can be discussed and progress or new perspectives might be found.

Bring the System into the Room: The challenge comes from bringing a selective part of the system around your project into the room. You need to consider how you can involve a broader view of the project and its stakeholders. Can you bring out broader benefits that make persisting worthwhile? Can you bring other voices into the conversation to offset the obvious?

Reframe the Obvious: The obvious remark may also hold a clue as to the path to its solution. Look at the examples above. If margin is the issue, then what if profit is lost to unmet disruption. If a stock of talent is the issue, how do we redefine, find or create a flow of talent. If workload is the issue, how can collaboration help. If price is the issue, how can innovation drive value.

Ask to Do the Work: A lot of obvious issues turn out to be no issue at all in practice. They are built on untested assumptions, rumours and guesswork. Ask to do the work. Ask for a richer conversation with a wider group of stakeholders. Ask to put the issue to the test by doing an experiment, a pilot or gathering real data. Too many obvious barriers are only barriers around conference tables.

Don’t accept the obvious issue as a barrier to the progress of your project. Your stakeholder may not even care. They might just want to appear clever in the meeting. Do the preparation and the work and you will carry your project far beyond the obvious issues. The real challenges are the issues nobody anticipates.

Coaching Creates Time to Reflect

office-336368_1920We don’t need to be told that work is busy. Pressures are everywhere. Finish one task or one meeting and there is a good chance that the next few challenges are piled up ready to go. We rarely get the time to reflect as we power through our work, unless we allocate time or are forced into reflection by the questions of others.

Without reflection, we all struggle to focus and question our priorities, our relationships and our performance. The value of coaching is that it can create this space in our work week and help make our work far more effective. The power of questions from others is that they force us to reflect, to consider a wider perspective on our work and can break the patterns that form in our busy thinking.

Great leaders coach. They know how to ask simple questions of their teams that foster reflection on goals, priorities, alignment of work and the effectiveness of work. Creating a supportive coaching environment in a team enables people to reflect on how to improve more often and more effectively. Great leaders encourage peer coaching too.

Peer coaching is a powerful technique and one that can happen in the flow of work. Taking the time to ask each other “How did we do? What can we do better or different next time?” is all that it takes to create more reflection in our work. We don’t work alone the insights and observations of others can help us become more effective. Working out loud, purposefully sharing our work with our peers, invites our peers into our work and facilitates this reflection.

In the coaching work that I do, I find asking the simple questions clarifying goals, the situation and opportunities to do things differently creates a space for a new and powerful conversation. The time invested can have dramatic returns by clearing blockages, building new collaborative networks and focusing the effort of work. Often the improvement opportunities are obvious when someone has time to reflect on how they can do things differently.

An added benefit of the time to reflect through coaching conversations is an increase in accountability in organisations. Regular coaching conversations with a leader, a coach or peers, create personal accountability to translate improvement opportunities into action. Knowing that someone will ask “what have you done differently?” helps us reflect continuously on how well we are delivering on our plans.

Reflecting with the support of others is the heart of learning and performance improvement. How are you fostering a coaching culture to benefit your performance and the performance of the teams around you?

Simon Terry is a coach and consultant who helps individuals and organisations to make work more effective. Reach out to discuss how more coaching can foster reflection for you and your organisation. 

Context

The dysfunction in organisations is often a lack of shared context.

Part of any community is a shared context. That context is a common set of facts and understanding of the world. At its best that context includes shared goals and purposes. This context enables people to see the world in enough of a shared way that trust and collaboration is possible.

Civil society breaks down when people stop sharing enough context to collaborate and reach consensus. Much of the dysfunction of politics globally is influenced by the breakdown of shared context. We can find our own media that reinforces our own worldview. Politicians actively reinforce this to strengthen their following and influence. The vitriol and political dysfunction is an outcome of a lack of shared context.

We’ve all experienced the moment where the same action takes on a different meaning in a different context. The car that wants to cut into your lane on a day you are late and stressed creates a different reaction to the same action on a peaceful day of vacation. Context can literally change how we see and react to the world.

In organisations there are many ways that shared context breaks down. At its most dangerous, an organisation can lack a shared context with the customers and other stakeholders that provide its reason for being. Look at any customer service breakdown and there will be a lack of shared context. Organisations lose track of their customer’s context when they stop listening to feedback and stop changing with their customers. Success builds ego and hubris that builds barriers to understanding.

Within organisations, shared context is absent when there are misalignments of purpose or information. The silos that brought us efficiency now promote division and lack of mutual understanding. No two teams can collaborate comfortably when they have their own sets of metrics and differing goals.

A key role for all in organisations but particularly for leaders is to create a shared context. Help people understand the whole system through transparency, understanding and engagement. When there is conflict and dysfunction, start building new understanding.

The New Role of Managers: Increase Variation

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work – Peter Drucker

For 100 years, the role of managers has been to increase consistency of performance. Executing a proven business model in times of stable growth demands a focus on consistency, simplicity and efficiency. Managers have prospered through a focus on command, process and centralized decision making.  In an era of global networks, we have entered a new domain.  The role of managers in the future of work must be to increase effectiveness through leveraging the potential of their people and the learning opportunities in complex networks & systems.

Beyond Efficient Simplicity to Effectiveness

Management has a bias to the simplicity because simple actions can be executed efficiently and consistently. From before Adam Smith described the pin factory, managers have been breaking down tasks and processes in pursuit of an ever simpler and more efficienct mode of execution. Great strides in performance and productivity have been made in the use of this model. We have extended it further through global outsourcing, global supply chains and increasing automation.

However, as we have extended this model we have encounter an increasing realization that efficiency in a process is not always correlated with effectiveness of the outcome. Customer experiences are delivered by entire business systems. Societies are complex interrelationships of many systems not just simple business processes scaled up. At a global level we can increasingly see the disconnect between the simple and the needs of the system. Personal purpose and the purpose of our organizations calls us to look to the effectiveness of the system, not the efficiency of a process.

As many innovators have demonstrated embracing the complex systemic view can achieve a step change in effectiveness for both consumers and the business.  Embracing systems thinking, complexity and variation, creates new ways to disrupt business and meet consumer needs. Variation is not a cost. It is a signal of a new potential for effectiveness.

Beyond Predictability to Experimentation

The central planning model of most organizations driven by strict budget processes placed a heavy emphasis on predictability of outcomes. Managers were valued for their ability to consistently deliver outcomes, even if that merely represented a consistent ability to game the system. A focus on predictability drove a concentration of decision making in the hands of those with the most expertise and information to make decision.

Innovation is not predictable. Innovation recognizes that there is now too much information for any one person’s knowledge or expertise. Organizations need to embrace learning through experimentation. This process of learning by experimentation in complex systems can be hypothesis driven but it is not predictable. The test is no longer how one manager decides but how the entire system of an organization experiments and learns. The pace of adaptation driven by experimentation will be what drives an organizations effectiveness and competitive position.

Beyond Automatons to Autonomy

An expert manager focused on consistency seeks to replicate best practice in simple processes to be executed with minimum variation by automatons. If they can’t be robots, then they should be people with the greatest consistency of skill and the minimum discretion. Individual talents and ideas are sacrificed to scaling consistency of performance. Command and control is a path only to scaled consistency of performance, ask any traditional military structure.

In complex networks & systems, agents need autonomy to react to the variation circumstances that confront them. For all the focus on command and control, even the military recognizes that in battle the ‘plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy’. To achieve effectiveness, our organizations need to enable employees to respond to the circumstances that face them, to experiment, to learn and to adapt.  Great managers need to become coaches of this agility. they need to foster the variation of autonomy to find new paths to effectiveness in the system.  The key role of a manager is no longer direction. The role of a manager is alignment of the autonomous agents to realize the purposes of the organization and the team.

Beyond Competency to Capability

Consistent processes demand a focus on known competency levels. In an ideal case for a manager focused on consistency, this competency was so low that people could either be recruited with the skills or they were quickly acquired. Development of people in this environment by managers involves lifting an individual to the required proficiency and reskilling where processes change.

Managers in the future of work are now leaders of a continuous process of capability development of which human capability is only one part

Beyond Assessment to Empathy

Traditional managers role was to assess performance against a predetermined standard of consistency. The tails of a bell curve of performance were either rewarded or cut. The focus of management was a continuous process of objective assessment. This experience of assessment through performance assessment processes became the most alienating experience of management. Performance was a transactional experience focused on consistency without consideration of systems, relationships, diversity or effectiveness.

Great managers in the future of work understand that effectiveness is the scaling of personal effectiveness. They begin with empathy, not objective rationality. Discovering an individual’s personal purpose and objectives, developing their individual talents where ever they may lead and staying connected to an individual’s human experience and potential are key points of effective performance. At the heart of this approach is embracing the diversity and variation inherent in any group of people.  The transformation of performance through this approach is a step change compared to the plus or minus 10% model of traditional consistency performance management.

Variation is the Key to Value Creation

Risk and return are correlated. As much as management science has pretended to break this axiom, it has largely shifted risks elsewhere in the pursuit of higher return. Value creation opportunities come from exploring the variation in human society and its networks. We need managers who can embrace and foster variation in the future of work. Too many managers can be replaced with robots because of the predictable nature of the algorithm at the heart of their work.  Worse, those who suppress variation in their teams will be left behind in the disruptive economies ahead.

If you would like help to improve the effectiveness of your managers and teams, please get in contact for a conversation about how this applies in your business.

Thanks very much to Luis Suarez, Jonathan Champ and Janet Fouts for their contributions to the Twitter conversation about yesterday’s blog post on email and meetings. This post is inspired by that chat.  We learn through debate and discussion in the future of work.

Indecisive

A complex and cluttered environment for leaders makes old hierarchical models of leadership outdated. We need to adjust our expectation of how leaders behave to meet the needs of our new complex systems. 

History is full of strong and decisive leaders. Mostly male leaders at the top of hierarchies they answer any question simply and directly based on their expertise. They issue orders at will to make our roles as followers as simple and passive as possible. Napoleon rose to the heights of power, conquered nations, dictated laws and built new institutions. He also cost millions of lives, failed to hold on to his power and died in his second exile in the care of jailers. His journey was all before global connection made a leaders challenges far more complex. 

Clarity and directness may be comforting but we are slowly learning that three word slogans aren’t the answer. In our complex era, the appeal of simple directions fades rapidly. Reality intrudes quickly. 

Followers don’t want simplicity for its own sake. They want simplicity because it used to mean effectiveness. They want progress on the issues that matter to them. Most importantly they want to be understood and have their needs at least considered and at best addressed. 

Leaders can no longer demand a following. They must earn it by their actions. The path of engaging others can look a lot like weakness and indecision: listening, engaging, considering, experimenting with approaches and admitting limits and uncertainties. Great leaders don’t have answers and orders. They engage entire communities in taking up the work of change to make things better. Great leaders are not strong, they are interconnected, build connections and know connection is the source of their enduring influence. Leaders can no longer hide out in palaces, parliaments or headquarters.  Relationships last longer than orders and get far more done. 

In a complex world a little indecision is required to find the path to greater effectiveness. 

Put the Conversation First

Fishbowl session in Sydney. Photo credit: Michelle Ockers

Put conversation first.  There is nothing more powerful than real conversation. Generative discussion is far more likely to engage, inspire and create value than a presentation or a recitation of an individual’s expertise. 

I first saw deep generative conversation in adaptive leadership work. Creating a container for a conversation, being able to surface tensions and explore a whole system generates a new perspective for leaders.  Conversations like these, can be the foundations for new more effective action.

My passion for working out loud is shaped by the value that I have experienced in putting ego in the background and working with others aloud on ideas and actions.  The growth of working out loud globally is testament to the fact that my views are not isolated.

The Anti-panel is another example of work where the value of fostering a real and diverse conversation can be seen.  Through multiple formats, engaging a conference audience to create their own panel session has been insightful & rewarding.

Next week I am putting another generative conversation format to the test.  Along with Charles Jennings, Rene Robson, Cheryle Walker and Andrew Gerkens we will be discussing learning and performance in a fishbowl format. I have been a part of a number of fishbowl conversations before. Each have been intense, engaging and insightful experiences because they bring the audience into the panel conversation, focus on a conversation and create an atmosphere of collaboration in the discussion and the surrounding audience.

Your Purpose in a Network

“All the value that we create is delivered for others and negotiated with others. We cannot escape the networks in our work. We are not an island widget producing output in a process. We are humans tackling increasingly complicated problems in webs of relationships that stretch through our organizations and out to the network where our purposes have their effects.”

We can’t escape networks as individuals and as organisations. We are embedded in a wirearchy that is far more powerful than we are aware. When avoidance is no longer a strategy we must engage. What is the purpose of your work and leadership in the networks around you?

There is no Island

Let’s say you were a traditionalist manager and you saw social communication as a distraction from the perfect order of your process driven life and neatly structured hierarchical silos. You can ban any form of networking in your organisation. You can ensure that employees never get together physically across the boundaries of teams. You can turn your organisation into closed cells in the name of efficiency. You can replace employees with robots to make the more compliant.

Except:

  • You still have customers and they are organised into networks that reach around into your organisation
  • Your competitors are leveraging networks to reach new customers, to learn, to solve challenges and to create new innovations
  • Your suppliers are using networks that involve your employees and customers to understand how best to create value too
  • Your employees still have phones & internet connections, friends (some of whom are customers), connections in the real world that may want to influence your organisation or even their own thoughts on what your organisation should be doing from their external community activity.
  • Even your robots will be networked in an era of the internet of things

Even if you wanted to ignore the network and focus solely on the performance of a hierarchical process driven organisation, you no longer can. The network has subverted the hierarchy.  The networks have always been there disrupting your efforts at perfection. They are just more visible and more capable than ever. Your employees, competitors, suppliers, customers and community have always been networked into groups large and small by human interaction. Now those conversations are global, mobile, persistent, transparent and real time.

Purpose in a Network

Welcome to the wirearchy. It doesn’t replace the hierarchy. It works with it, shaping your actions and the actions of others in your organisation with its ‘dynamic two way flow of information, trust and authority’. 

The wirearchy challenges you to consider your purpose. Your purpose guides how your actions reach out into the networks around you and have an effect on others.  That effect on others is what determines the information you receive, the authority you are given and the trust you earn. Improving these things takes work. It cannot be delivered by management fiat or a great personal or corporate brand campaign in the era of networks.

In a wirearchy, we each have the opportunity to improve our information, authority and trust. We each have the opportunity to lead. Unlike traditional management this is an opportunity, not a requirement. Fail to use it when required and the network will route around you taking away your hard won gains. The network doesn’t require your participation; it simply values it.

The Purpose is in the Work

The purpose is in the work. You won’t find it in a job, a manager’s opinion or in a book. Choose the work that you like to do and go have an impact in your networks doing that. Your role in the wirearchy will be surfaced by action. You will also get a better sense of the value that you create for others, helping you to better appreciate your performance in the network. 

The simplest purposeful actions that each of us can take are those that create value for others in our networks:

  • Connect People: Help others find their path & communities in the network
  • Share our Work and our Passions: work out loud on the activities going on in your life to let others learn and help
  • Solve Challenges with and for others to share your expertise, experience and capabilities
  • Innovate and Experiment to create new value together

Start where you feel comfortable. Start where you feel you can make a difference. Your networks and your purpose will guide your leadership work from there.