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future of work

Hollywood and the Future of Work

Imagine you’re sitting in your corner office looking over strategy and product development for the next 12 to 18 months. Surrounding you are your CXO team, as well as, a host of executive level project managers. The remainder of your staff and management is made up of on-demand workers collaborating on a project by project basis on discrete time tables with fixed budgets. This is the future of work. Does this sound fantastical, too futuristic or downright crazy?

This type of organization already exists … and it’s responsible for producing a variety of projects grossing billions of dollars on a 12 to 18 month schedule and they’ve been doing it for decades. “Whaaaat?” you say “ I’ve never heard of it.” Have you been to the movie theater in a while?  Hollywood has used this organizational solution for decades to put out “product” that routinely costs hundreds of millions of dollars and yet can generate billions of dollars in revenue.  This “Hollywood model” of the Future of Work is slowly but surely becoming attainable to organizations of any size. The ability to hire not just lower level freelancers, but to contract with seasoned executives/experts at all levels of production to create a pop-up team to create, manage and produce a product from start to finish. The benefits are myriad but at the very least can result in reduced labor cost, quicker time to market, and the ability to react more nimbly to both market opportunities and market threats.

Here is basically how it works so you can get a idea of how this new organizational structure could benefit your company:  The big Hollywood studios are made up of a core executive team, as well as, what amounts to business managers who help evaluate projects and decide which projects will benefit the studios the most and have the highest potential ROI. Cutting through all the crap about how a script makes it to production… Once the executive team signs off on the project and funding for the project is put in place then the real work begins.

A director is hired (i.e. the project manager) to fill the studios mandate while balancing the target markets expectation and appetite for the new product. The director then hires a production company with its own team of management and access to an on-demand workforce made up of everything from electricians and carpenters to editors to software designers, special-effects experts and of course camera and audio operators. This team can number in the hundreds and once you add in actors and extras, an entire team all focused on delivering a single piece of content can reach into the thousands. The studio rarely gets involved in the day-to-day operations unless there is an issue. The studio simply reviews content at specific milestones and monitors KPI’s all the while supporting the project with funding and pre-marketing efforts.

So what’s in it for the Hollywood studios? Studios save a great deal of money by not having full-time directors, producers, production teams, post production teams and even actors on staff 365 days a year. The cost of this would make the final product, the movie, so expensive that no one could afford to go to it. This Future or Work or liquid workforce solution; where entire teams come together for the duration of the project, deliver a great product and then disband for the next project is the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver prime content for the studio and reduce costs.

Now take this model and apply it to your own organization. All of those people that you have sitting in cubicles day in and day out, all of the support people, all of the maintenance, all of the real estate costs associated the housing all of these individuals what if you could make that all go away or minimize it drastically?  Your core team decides and defines products or product updates on a rotating basis for the next 6, 12 or even 18 months and then you hire on a project by project basis the experts you need to complete those projects. The final product belongs to the company of course, and you know exactly what your labor costs are going to be because it’s negotiated and guaranteed in advance.

How to Implement this New Future of Work Organization

A change of attitude, and the foresight to allow your HR team to do what they were meant to do, recruit talent not play with an ATS system. In Hollywood, recruiters are called “casting directors” and it is their job to find the best talent available within budget. They might work with agents from time to time but they actively recruit on their own. Looking for just the right talent and then working out the deal. They don’t sit around pumping job descriptions out in to the ether and then monitor the 1,000’s of useless resumes ( AKA headshots) they get back. They’re proactive not reactionary. They’re the ones that shape the leadership of the teams and then allow that leadership teams to hire the experts they need to get the project done.

If this seems like too radical a change, never fear, there are new tools that are coming online that will allow you to hire an expert team on a project by project basis to give your company the deliverable/products that it needs at a fraction of the price of a host of full-time hires with all of their benefits and facilities costs. Things like Upwork, Uber and Fivver give you hint of what’s next in the on-demand workforce. However, instead of focusing on the unskilled or semi-skilled workforce, new talent platforms are developing which will allow you to hire the experts you need, when you need them at the right price, anywhere in the world.

Why the Resume is Outdated

You may ask, “how can I hire the right people, people I can trust to get the job done?”  How many people actually trust a resume these days? Do you? If so then why do your recruiters and ATS systems scour the Internet for additional candidate information in their social media and other profiles? Because the resume is BS and you are looking for other ways to vet the candidate, to get a better idea of their competency and value to the organization. That’s before you waste everyone’s time on a interview.

Just as in Hollywood, leaders that can create and manage successful projects get a reputation, a “ranking” if you will and thus can command a greater salary the next time around. Time is quickly drawing near when individual’s contributions to the company can be traced back to the bottom line and individuals will demand ratings and rankings of their skills that will be visible outside of the organization and publicly available. These ratings and rankings will replace the outdated resume.  I like to think of this as the “Moneyball” approach to corporate recruiting and the rise of big data, an increasingly liquid workforce coupled with a desire to cut labor costs and stay more nimble will accelerate this trend.

So what if this new Future of Work isn’t right for you? You may not have a choice in adopting this new organizational structure as there is a profound, growing realignment in individual’s perception of “work” and changing attitudes towards what a “career” means to many people. Perhaps this is further evidenced by why so many people want to identify as an “entrepreneur” these days.

The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Inc Magazine cite the rise of the On-Demand or Liquid Workforce as the trend in the Future of Work as others estimate that between 2020 and 2030 up to 50% of the US workforce will opt for on-demand work as opposed to full-time employment with a single employer.  But that could be good news for your organization as well, how many times in your organization has the hiring or recruiting process failed you. Failed to provide an individual that meets all of your expectations and can provide the deliverables you thought they could? Hiring them is expensive and firing them has costs too.

According to EREmedia, with an on-demand workforce, if the particular team member is unable, unwilling or just not a good fit then that team member can be replaced quickly and without the consequences associated with firing a full-time hire.

“This is a common problem among most organizations, which report that 30-50% of their full-time hires do not meet expectations and thus it was a waste of an entire recruiting cycle “

Should We All Go Hollywood?

The pace of change across all businesses is accelerating and one of the last major segments yet to be disrupted is recruiting. Lets face it the recruiting industry hasn’t really changed since the 1950’s.  Sure there has been 10s of millions of dollars invested in new ATS systems and recruiting platforms, but these are all designed to make the recruiters lives easier so they can process and track as many as 3,000 useless resumes for every job posting. The focus has been simply to leverage new technology to extend an antiquated process. Ask anyone that has applied for a job in the last several years what the user experience was like. If recruiting was a standalone business it would have been bankrupt years ago.

Corporate leaders owe it to their stakeholders to follow in the footsteps of trend setting companies like Adobe and Cisco and take advantage of the on-demand workforce to reduce costs, increase productivity and boost worker morale.  The confluence of a new perception of what “work” and “career” is, coupled with big data and new talent platforms mean that organizations in the near future will be able to take advantage of the Hollywood organizational structure and reap the benefits of the liquid workforce.

So lets recap:

  1. Hollywood has been using the Liquid Workforce to great success for years
  2. The workforce is changing beneath your feet
  3. Existing recruiting doesn’t work very well
  4. Your company needs to become more nimble and increase the pace of product release and/or updates
  5. Technology has evolved to the point where individual expertise can be ranked and rated.

….maybe its time your organization went Hollywood after all!

29 Nov 2016
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Lori Greiner, QVC

Reluctant Entrepreneur Lori Greiner Drove QVC to Success

“I hated business. I didn’t really have any interest,” QVC queen Lori Greiner has confessed. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a knack for it.”

In developing and marketing her first product, Lori Greiner found that she had not only a knack for business but an unexpected ability for entrepreneurship. The reluctant entrepreneur now owns more than 115 patents and is the undisputed wonder woman of the QVC home shopping network. Greiner is also one of the sharks on Shark Tank which recently started its fifth season on ABC. The show, which gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to break into the big time with financial backing from one of the millionaire “sharks”.

Greiner has been called the “nice shark” for her friendly smile and welcoming demeanor; but she’s a barracuda when it comes to business. In an interview with Channel Guide Magazine, Greiner said she understands how the entrepreneurs who come on the show feel. “The first time I went on TV to sell a product it was a terrifying moment,” she revealed. “You don’t sleep for days you’re so nervous. I will smile a lot, letting them know this is OK, breathe. You’ll be alright.”

Despite her encouraging manner, Lori Greiner expects entrepreneurs entering the shark tank to bring their A game. Unfortunately, she has noticed that many fledgling entrepreneurs tend to shoot themselves in the foot when they try to step into the big leagues. Greiner offers entrepreneurs the following advice:

  • Know your numbers. “You must know your business and have your numbers down,” Greiner advises. Entrepreneurs need to have a detailed understanding of every aspect of their business but being constantly aware of income, outgo and the cost of doing business is the key to success.
  • Show respect. Treat financial backers, customers and suppliers with respect.
  • Fill a need. “I like products that everyone needs and wants,” Greiner says. The broader the marketing base the better.

Launch your entrepreneurial business on Zoondy. Sign up to beta test Zoondy at http://www.zoondy.com.

20 Jul 2016
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employment

Changing the Employment Paradigm

Changing the Employment Paradigm, the New Definition of Entrepreneur

Since our country’s inception, American entrepreneurs have played a major role in driving U.S. economic growth and success. You have only to watch ABC’s reality show Shark Tank to realize that America’s entrepreneurial spirit is as strong today as ever. But as noted in our previous post, changes in the U.S. employment paradigm are about to swell the ranks of the country’s entrepreneurial community with a new class of entrepreneurs that are taking on the challenges and risks of managing their own business less by choice than by necessity.

For these accidental entrepreneurs the very definition of an entrepreneur as someone who is willing to take on the often considerable risks of launching a business can be a source of extreme discomfort. It is the risk many people associate with being an entrepreneur that is at the root of their fear. But the same employment shifts that are forcing more people to launch their own businesses are also forcing a redefinition of our collective concept of entrepreneurship, as Brett Nelson explained on Forbes.com.

Our economy is now being fueled by two distinct breeds of entrepreneur:

  • Traditional entrepreneurs: Visionary thinkers who are constantly looking for new ways to change the world and are willing to assume major risks to turn their ideas into reality.
  • Accidental entrepreneurs: Regular folks with skills, services or products to sell who are looking for a marketplace for their services that entails minimal risk.

There is room in our economy for both breeds. In fact, as demonstrated in the Funders and Founders infographic recently published on Entrepreneur.com, the employment shift from full-time employees to self-employed freelancers, independent contractors and consultants is pushing many U.S. workers into the entrepreneurial trenches.

Next time: The 5 habits of successful entrepreneurs

Zoondy is the perfect place to launch a career as an entrepreneur. An online employment marketplace, Zoondy brings together self-employed workers with services to sell and businesses that need those services. Zoondy facilitates business start up and minimizes financial risk – and it’s free! Click here to find out how Zoondy works.

13 Jul 2016
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freelancing

Freelancing- Is It Right for You? (Infographic)

Many experts are calling freelancing the job of the future and say that the U.S. is moving toward a primarily freelance work force, but how do you know if Freelancing Right for You. The 42 million Americans already working as freelancers currently comprise about a quarter of the U.S. work force. By the end of the next decade, experts predict that as much as 50% of the U.S. workforce could be freelance contract workers and telecommuters.

The benefits of being your own boss appeal to many people who choose freelance professional jobs over working 9-to-5 in a traditional office setting, but the freelance life isn’t for everyone. How do you know if you have what it takes to “fly solo’? GraphicDesignDegreeHub.com has created a helpful infographic, The Pros and Cons of Being a Freelancer, that could help you make the right decision.

“Many freelancers self report higher pay rates, higher levels of job satisfaction, and greater work/life balance than traditional jobs,” Graphic Design Degree Hub noted. Here are just a few of the reasons why so many workers are pro freelancing:

  • 90% of freelancers are happier than they were in their previous job; and 77% are optimistic about the future of their business.
  • Nearly half of freelancers (49%) said their income was not impacted by the recession.
  • Freelancers make an average 45% more than traditional workers with 75% reporting incomes of more than $65,000 per year, which places them in the 80th earnings percentile.
  • Nearly 50% of freelancers charge an hourly rate of $20 to $59. Another third earn $70 or more per hour, and the top 15% bring in more than $100 per hour.
  • Less than a third of freelancers work 40 hours or more per week which allows them to spend more time with their families and pursue other interests.
  • Many freelancers consider flexibility to be a major benefit of the job. While 65% work full-time at freelance professional jobs, nearly 20% combine freelancing with a full- or part-time job.
05 Jul 2016
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Zoondy

Zoondy: LinkedIn Meets Amazon.com for the Future of Work

Zoondy, the elite marketplace for peer-to-peer business expertise, is capitalizing on its recent surge in membership to raise an additional $2.5MM to expand its “Liquid Workforce” solution to 43 million U.S. business professionals.

Zoondy is excited to announce the launch of their Fundable profile as they go into a new round of funding.  Zoondy will leverage the power of the Fundable platform to reach investors that understand a shift is coming in HR and job search technology in general and want to get ahead of it by embracing the liquid workforce approach and the future of work.   Zoondy is at the forefront of change in the contingent workforce economy.  Workers are now seeking more flexible employment instead of the full-time employment of years past.  Worker are looking to stay nimble in a job market that does not have their best interest at heart.  In seeking flexible, work for hire employment, workers are able to command larger salaries and be in charge of their own schedules.

Zoondy provides a secure, structured market environment for buyers and sellers of professional high-skill expertise to transact for the knowledge, expertise and skills that they need on a short term or project basis.  Zoondy is an up-market solution, not to be confused with Uber, Fivver or Upwork.   The site targets the 43 million seasoned professionals, retirees and work-from-home executives who have proven expertise that can be shared locally or globally with businesses both small and large.

Founder and CEO, Gordon Gooch states, “Gooch continues, “This new round of funding will allow us to educate a large number of highly skilled, seasoned business professionals who have not had an opportunity to embrace the liquid workforce revolution.”

If you are ready to buy or sell executive expertise, please click here to sign-up.

You can view the original press release by going to PR Newswire.

29 Jun 2016
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College Grads Can Develop Work Experience

How College Grads Can Develop Work Experience

Employers are looking for more than a college degree when they shop for job candidates these days. So how can College Grads Can Develop Work Experience they need to compete in this competitive market?

As we noted in a previous post, obtaining a college degree no longer guarantees the high-paying jobs it used to. Entry level salaries for college grads have been down-trending over the past decade during which grads have seem their earnings drop 13%.

While many blame the economy, the problem is more complex. College tuitions have been rising at unprecedented rates, but employers complain that graduates are arriving in the work place without the marketable skills employers are looking for. To fill the gap, major employers in some communities have partnered with area high schools and community colleges to develop curriculums that prepare students for to meet their specific needs. In return, students that successfully complete the course work are guaranteed a job with the employer.

New educational initiatives currently being implemented from the preschool to collegiate level also seek to address deficits in the U.S. educational system with an eye toward producing graduates more capable of filling a new era of high-tech jobs. Greater emphasis is also being placed on work-study programs and internships at both the high school and college levels to provide students with the real life work experience employers are looking for by the time they graduate. Now College Grads Can Develop Work Experience they need to succeed in the real world.

In the October 7, 2013 issue of Time magazine, MIT President L. Rafael Reif paints a provocative picture of America’s changing educational scene and the impact it will have on the graduating class of 2025. The article is well worth reading. Also worth reading is Jon Meacham’s explanation on Time.com of the educational debate currently taking place over core standards and the implications it will have on America’s future work force.

For today’s graduating collegiate, freelancing on Zoondy is a smart way to demonstrate initiative, gain the work experience today’s employers are looking for and give yourself a competitive edge in the marketplace. Watch our video to find out how Zoondy works; then sign up to beta test Zoondy at https://zoondy.com/.

 

08 Jun 2016
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Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Unemployment

A recent Forbes.com post offered the provocative thought that Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Unemployment. Co-written by LiveNinja founder Will Weinraub and marketing strategist Dorie Clark, a professor at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, the article reinterprets unemployment data, suggesting that hidden beneath the statistics is the undocumented rise of a powerful entrepreneurial work force that is changing the focus of American business.

Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Unemployment

As the authors note, instead of — and sometimes in addition to — shoveling out resumes and standing in never-ending job fair lines, an increasing number of unemployed Americans are quietly giving up the job hunt to become home-grown entrepreneurs. Aided by virtual employment marketplaces like Zoondy, entrepreneurs are turning job skills and personal interests into viable small businesses, many of which are home-based.

In examining the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ method of categorizing employment, the authors explain, “The basic concepts involved in identifying the employed and unemployed are quite simple:

  • People with jobs are employed.
  • People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work are unemployed.
  • People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.”

Using these criteria, the Department of Labor has pegged U.S. unemployment at 4.9%. This is misleading, the authors say, noting that a decade of social and workplace changes have redefined the working definition of employment, if not our statistical one. The demise of the traditional 30-year career at a single company has made it more difficult to accurately track employment rates. Many entrepreneurial jobs take place off the traditional statistical grid and so are not included in statistical data. These self-employed, small-scale entrepreneurs do not show up on corporate employment rolls but neither are they looking for jobs. In effect, they represent a growing but overlooked labor force that operates under the statistical radar.

01 Jun 2016
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Productivity Hacks For Freelancers

Freelancing can be one of the most rewarding professions — you’re your own boss and have the freedom to schedule your own day.

But freedom does have its pitfalls, which is why many freelancers struggle to maintain the productivity they need to excel at the job.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.business2community.com

Many people think that working from home is easy.  You can work in your pajamas and you don’t have to take a shower.  Studies unfortunately, show the contrary, the most productive freelancers have a schedule and get ready for work, whether it’s at home, the local Starbucks or a co-working space.  Setting a schedule and other regularity is key to success as a freelancer, otherwise you may get distracted from work, start feeling depressed because you don’t feel productive.

 

These productivity hacks are just the thing for any freelancer.  They are simple, easy to incorporate into your daily schedule and they work.  Next time your friend tells you that you have it so easy because you can work from home, tell him or her to try it on for size.  They will soon realize that it can be a tough road unless you do it right and with purpose.

24 Feb 2016
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The Future of Work Part 2: Reinventing Your Company for the Networked Era

Welcome to Part 2 of our two part series on the Future of Work: Reinventing Your Company for the Networked Era by Les Martel and Jeff Loher. In Part 1 you learned what the “Networked Era” is and what it means to you and your companies survival. The authors introduced you to the “Organizational Fitness Lens”; a handy tool to asses your company as it prepares for the coming evolution/revolution of “work”, employment and corporate structure.Big Business

In Part 2 you will learn how to use the “Organizational Fitness Lens” to assess your company’s survival in the coming evolution/revolution of “work”, employment and corporate structure, as well as, what you can do now to prepare yourself and your company for the coming changes.

We look forward to even more guest blogs by the authors as we explore what the “Future of Work” will mean for you and your companies in the coming years. Please use the contact information provided to reach out to the authors with any questions you have or start a discussion right here on our blog.

Tell us what you think the Future of Work will look like.

-Gordon Gooch

 

Analyzing Your Company with the Organizational Fitness Lens

In part 1 of our series we introduced the concept of the Networked Era and what it means for the Future of Work. We created a tool called the Organizational Fitness Lens to help you analyze your company and assess its readiness for the changes to come.  In part 2 we will show you how to use the Organizational Fitness Lens and based on the results you get, how you can make the necessary changes to ensure your companies continued success.

As a brief recap,

The networked era organizational fitness lens is the tool that we developed to quickly assess organizational capability in the networked era. By assessing each individual component we are able to understand where the company is on its journey to becoming a networked organization. This tool helps us define and understand the value and impact of specific investments an organization can make going forward. While your organization may be doing many things right, this lens serves as the top-level screen identifying gaps and opportunities.

Our Networked Era Fitness Lens as seen below in Figure 3 below has five interlocking components:

A: Robust technology backbone: A rock solid technology infrastructure

B: Right & ready Data Access: The right data, for the right person, at the right level    of granularity, at the right time

C: Collaborative Bias: Cross-boundary collaboration must be the cultural norm

D: Boundary Porosity: Internal/external organizational barriers must be low and porous

E: Talent Intensity: Highly specialized talent with contemporary “hard and soft” skills

 fig3

A. Robust Technology Backbone

Technology forms the bedrock on which networked era organizations are built.

In fact, continuous technology development is the main driver behind this new organizational form. The technology backbone must be both sufficiently strong and flexible to support the organization’s networked era design. In the most basic sense the networked organization requires this backbone to ensure that information is available everywhere and that all of the other pieces fit together. The technology backbone must satisfy 4 functions:

  1. Connectivity – linking people, machines and processes
  2. Information Creation – the combining of data in to usable information
  3. Storage – keeping information in an accessible way
  4. Access – allowing access to stored information

First, creating the technology backbone starts with connectivity. In a networked era organization everyone and everything must be connected to the network. This one component is driving much of the technology conversation today and is the idea behind sensor ubiquity and “the Internet of things.” By connecting everything the entire organization can create a better view of the whole business in a way that avoids human error. But connectivity is only the first part. However, once systems are connected they must also be able to turn raw data into useful information.

Second, a continuous stream of operational data is useless unless it is brought together in a meaningful way to create useable information. Today connectivity is possible in some of the most extreme situations. For example, in the Oil and Gas industry, directional drilling companies are able to communicate with drill heads through thousands of feet of pipe and rock by sending waves through the mud column that the drill creates. NASA is able to connect spacecraft on Mars to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Connectivity limitations are being shattered on a daily basis. As challenging as these solutions may be for NASA, the benefit of being connected and knowing what is really happening at the drill bit or on Mars, far outweighs the cost. The networked era organization requires that all business and operational systems are linked and updating close to real time so management has a clear measure of performance. Yet, continuous streams of operational data are meaningless unless they can be combined to paint a meaningful picture. This requires algorithms that can correlate information as well as present digestible visualizations.

Third, the information must be stored in an accessible way. This is easy with today’s cloud systems that move companies away from closed networks that are hard to access to cloud systems that are inherently connected. Developing, assessing and changing these algorithms will be a key role of talent in the networked era organization.

Fourth, the technology backbone must provide access to the information. Without access the technology backbone is of limited value. Access itself can take many forms; from computers linked to real time data to reports delivered automatically and on a regular basis to smartphones. In our experience, many organizations have much of the technology backbone already in place. That is, the capital-intensive part of the work may already be done. But often the component pieces don’t talk to each other and critical data is not captured and turned in to useful information. These gaps are holding companies back and limiting the return on their technology investment.

When assessing your organization’s technology backbone, ask these questions:

  1. Do we have a robust technology backbone that extends to every part of the company?
  2. Are we capturing the data available to us?
  3. Are we converting raw data into useful information that guides actions?
  4. Is this information stored in an accessible way?
  5. Are we providing broad access to the information?

 B: Right and Ready Data Access

 In many strategic planning meetings we are often surprised by how much time is spent on rehashing the past and using it to forecast the future. Aside from being a futile exercise, it invariably has a demoralizing effect on people. The past does not change and conversations focused on past issues deemphasize solutions for the future. The networked era organization focuses on designing strategies for the future.

One executive shared his frustration with us. Before migrating to a networked organization structure, his team always held 2nd cup of coffee meetings. The first cup of coffee was consumed while preparing for the meeting to develop the arguments needed to defend against the onslaught from other managers. The 2nd cup meeting followed the first meeting to develop supporting arguments made in the meeting itself. Forward thinking was very much secondary. After implementing changes that allowed for right and ready data access, managers began to show up for meetings prepared to review the information together – Imagine, no more preparing of spreadsheets or reports! Information was available to all and indisputable. The meetings became focused on options for solving problems and handling future challenges rather than debating the past.

In the networked era company, data collection is automatic and the system itself can generate higher-level information reports. With a few clicks managers can have access to the right information, at the right level of granularity, at the right time. This frees up management to think about what the information means and where it is leading. This is the higher-level work that managers should be doing and want to be doing. Yes, right and ready information requires a robust technology backbone – but the IT just provides data. Building the right analytics, the reports and the dashboards is relatively easy; it is the implementation that requires deeper change management. The reason for this is that people will initially feel as though they are being exposed. Managers in particular must learn a new way of working with each other and managing subordinates. They will need to be more open about performance and learn to focus the conversation on future solutions. Making the transition to right and ready information must be done purposefully – it is a result of networked era organization design and not an automatic function of making information available.

In order to manage this transition to right and ready data access the organization must:

  • Spend the time to identify what information matters to whom and create the reports that deliver the information.
  • Recognize that the information will need to change over time, so resources must be dedicated to updating the reports and developing new ways to view information.
  • Have clear shared management incentives.
  • Structure conversations to focus on the future rather than the past and support managers in this transition.
  • Build a culture of measuring performance over the long term rather than immediate past actions.

Questions to ask:

  • Do management meetings focus more on backwards looking information or forward looking plans?
  • Is more management time spent assessing the past or preparing for the future?
  • Do managers have essential management information available to them when they need it?

C: Collaborative Bias

Right and ready data access provides the information but does not solve the problem of how people will work together. A collaborative bias is fundamentally an organizational culture issue, so it’s critical to create and foster a collaboration culture. In industrial era organizations people and functions had to make a determined effort to collaborate across boundaries. The bias was towards doing “my work” not “our work”. In the networked era organization, there must be a collaborative bias up, down, across and outside of the organization. Competitive advantage comes from finding and managing the best ideas from wherever they exist and however they originate. Competitive advantage will no longer come from operational management because this will be largely taken care of by automated systems. This means creating a flexible, collaborative work environment where people rapidly share ideas and work towards shared goals. Collaboration must go further than just working together. Members of the organization need to be linked through well defined work flows and shared information rather than functional designations.

Collaborative bias goes way beyond just shared goals. The work environment must also reinforce these organizational changes. Networked workspaces reinforce a collaborative experience rather than an individual one. Important design elements to collaboration are facilitating the chance encounter and providing opportunities to delve in to topics in shared spaces. The offices themselves break down barriers between functions and encourage problems solving huddles. This means having more connected spaces, places for people to have conversations with out disturbing others and environments for relaxed chance encounters. This environment also needs to extend beyond the office building. This is especially true as organizations become more porous and people work remotely and in different time zones. The best employees and external participants may not be located geographically close to the office but will still need to be connected have chance encounters and spaces to explore ideas. One solution we’ve used to great success is to implement company wide social networks and information exchanges. One company we worked with has developed its own new website with teaser ads that draw employees into different projects and in unexpected directions – promoting these chance encounters.

It’s worth noting that right and ready data access in and of itself will change the organizational culture. With so much information flowing around the company, the organization will be naturally driven toward a collaborative bias.

To assess collaborative bias ask these questions:

  1. Who needs to communicate with whom and does this help or hinder breaking down the traditional siloed structure?
  2. Are formal interactions are around shared goals rather than functional goals?
  3. Whether current workspaces are enabling collaboration?
  4. Are teams are focused on business challenges rather than functional content?
  5. Are internal linkages are structured to value contribution rather than role?
  6. Does the environment and the reward and incentive structures foster collaboration?
  7. Are there are robust internal and external linkages?

D: Boundary Porosity

 Georges Nahon & Mark Plakias in their article, The Coming of the Porous Enterprise (2009) proposed this intriguing question: “What if companies looked more like airports?” An airport is made up of a many different functions and companies, but they must all work together towards a common goal; an excellent and safe traveler experience. Be they airline personnel, food service providers, baggage handlers or air controllers; they work together in a way that appears seamless to the traveler. Like an airport, no one company can perform all of the functions and many specialist capabilities need to be shared from both inside and outside of the company. The networked era organization works more effectively across boundaries both internally and externally. By supporting boundary porosity and ensuring that the organization is focused on solving the right problems, people will work together to solve mission critical problems rather than working as individuals managing their silos. The challenge with boundary porosity is involving other external players in internal problems. While this is often uncomfortable at first and does need to be structured to be effective, the payoffs are tremendous.

New technology enables real-time interaction with suppliers, external participants and customers. Successful networked era companies will access the best ideas, regardless of where they come from. The rulebook has been rewritten in terms of how companies work with internal functions, external partners, venders, consultants, suppliers, and information providers; all harnessed around the job to be done. Good examples of boundary porosity are the creation of Knowledge Hubs and Centers of Excellence. These entities are linked internally and externally, focused on applying specialized knowledge to new problems then codifying the solutions. Open innovation initiatives and public challenges are other ways to involve external participants. In this way you can use experts that can solve emergent problems while also defining the future of the organization.

To assess boundary porosity ask these questions:

  • Does the organization have clear, shared overarching goals that can be expressed across functions and with external companies?
  • Are ideas managed and shared?
  • Is there a focus on the TOTAL customer experience?
  • Does the incentive structure encourage sharing across functions and boundaries?
  • Is there a “Just in time” internal and external partnering capability?

E: Talent Intensity

Talent is critical to networked era success. Very specific talent! Talent Intensity is the component that accelerates the other 4 components. We purposely use the term talent intensity rather than other generic terms to describe talent requirements like “the war for talent” or “emergent labor shortfalls”. These terms miss the essential problem, which is finding just the right talent with the right mix of critical thinking, technical and interpersonal skills. As illustrated below, the authors maintain that the talent imperative can be succinctly summed up: in order to win you’ve got to have “smarter and smarter” employees. That is, the ones who know how to “learn to learn” on the fly wherever and with whomever in order to get the job done. These are the same people that every networked era company wants to hire. Many traditional work roles are fast becoming “the melting middle” and the “quickly commoditized”. Companies are no longer interested in staffing up for these roles. Although this can be a reality jolt to the workers whose jobs are disappearing, it is the painful truth of the networked era. While humans will not disappear from the workforce, many of the traditional jobs will vanish. Androids and algorithms are doing more and more of this work freeing up “employee bandwidth” to do more personally gratifying and higher-level work. More “smart and smarter” employees will be needed to do this work and they will be in great demand.

 

fig4

On balance though, the networked era organization will do more to empower people rather than replace them. It provides great opportunities for those who have the new skillset to thrive. We believe that the “smart and smarter” employee must possess a 21st century set of competencies as outlined in the figure below. The base of the triangle notes the foundational capabilities required: a combination of technological agility paired with critical reasoning capabilities while the top of the triangle represents the 4’C’s of collaboration; communication, connectivity and creating. The 4 C’s are the rapid accelerators for both individual and organizational success in the networked era.

fig5

 

 

People who are highly collaborative and adaptable will power the networked era organization. They possess above average communication skills across verbal and virtual mediums. They are capable of connecting with others through effective social networking on a 24-7 schedule. Most important, they will be capable of and responsible for innovating and creating value for the company regardless of title and physical location.

 Conclusion

Companies cannot avoid the imperative to migrate toward a networked era organization model. Implementing the networked era organization may feel daunting and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to making the networked era organization work is in how the organization is structured. Managers must manage in a networked era fashion and create incentives that drive collaboration, sharing and focus on the future. This is the future of work and networked era companies will be more flexible, better able to manage in a changing environment and more prone to success. Understanding where your organization is on this journey starts by viewing your organization through the Networked Era Organizational Fitness Lens and identifying where the gaps are. Then you can develop a plan to address the gaps and create the conditions for success.

The thoughts outlined here are not meant to be exhaustive but rather to serve as a catalyst to encourage discussion within your company about what’s working and what’s not. Viewing your company through our Networked Era Organizational Fitness Lens is a first step before launching into additional change initiatives. The 5 components of the lens can provide valuable insight as to organizational strengths and weaknesses as well as serving as a step-wise intervention guide.

In summary,

First: Look at your company history to understand how you got to the current sate and plot the desire future.
Second: Understand what the future of work looks like and initiate the organizational design discussion with this in mind.
Third, Use our Networked Organizational Lens framework to stimulate a conversation about where you lead and where you lag.

Then: Dig in because this is where the real work begins. Fortunately for those companies that can make the shift the benefits gained through enhanced performance and more innovative approaches will be well worth it.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Les Martel

83936-041Les Martel is a senior level Organization Development professional with strong applied business acumen and a keen ability to link strategy with execution. Currently, he is Principal Consultant with Virtual Consulting International, a global strategy consulting firm based in New York City. Les works with organizations to meet the challenges of the emerging networked era organization to strategically reposition their business. Les focuses the talent capabilities needed for the business to thrive and the collaborative architecture needed to ensure seamless integration of strategy, people, processes and organizational structures regardless of physical location.

Previously, he was an Executive Consultant with Personnel Decisions International (PDI) serving key strategic accounts and a Senior Consultant at Development Dimensions International (DDI) designing, project managing & delivering talent & leadership development engagements on a worldwide basis. From 2000-2004 he was based in New York City as VP & Global Head Talent & People Development for The Instinet Corporation, the world’s largest global electronic securities broker. In that role he partnered with senior leaders to successfully drive a wide range of key strategic, operational, and human capital initiatives across the enterprise. For example, in that role he designed and deployed the first corporate-wide learning platform linking selection, talent assessment, performance management, & succession planning with mission critical business imperatives. He also created & implemented the external/internal emerging leader coaching & career path programs in addition to serving as the internal executive coach to top management.

Prior to joining Instinet, Dr. Martel was a Senior Leadership Development Consultant for Downey-Kates International, a strategic HR consulting firm based in New York City serving a diverse range of global clients. He specialized in executive assessment, feedback & development coaching as well as design & delivery of customized senior management leadership development programs.

Contact:
Lesmartel@gmail.com
203-887-6981

Jeff LoehrJeff-Loehr

Jeff is a strategy and organization design consultant based in New York City. He brings extensive international and cross industry experience, strategic insight and problem solving skills to bear on complicated issues at companies of all sizes – from startups to some of the world’s largest companies.

His experience includes and corporate strategy development, innovation, new market entry, risk management and creating effective organizations in the networked era to deliver effectively. Some of the companies he has worked with include: Butterball, Daimler Benz, the Ford Motor Company, Borax, Rio Tinto and Peabody Energy where he has been a leader in developing strategy and innovation projects that drive efficiency and rapid growth.

He is active in the design of new organizational models for the networked era and bringing new ways of working to companies looking to meet the challenges of a changing market. He has also developed innovation processes that have allowed both industrial and also consumer firms to reinvent themselves, create new operating models and redesign operations.

Jeff has an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.

Partner & Strategy Practice Lead
Stratalis Consulting – Strategy & Innovation for Growth
jeff.loehr@stratalisgroup.com
T: +1 206-450-8028
stratalisgroup.com

 

27 Oct 2015
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The Future of Work Part 1: Reinventing Your Company for the Networked Era

Welcome to Part 1 of our two part series on the Future of Work: Reinventing Your Company for the Networked Era by Les Martel and Jeff Loher. In Part 1 you will learn what the “Networked Era” is and what it means to you and your companies survival. The authors introduce you to the “Organizational Fitness Lens”; a handy tool to asses your company as it prepares for the coming evolution/revolution of “work”, employment and corporate structure.Future of work

In Part 1 you will learn how to use the “Organizational Fitness Lens” to assess your company’s survival in the coming evolution/revolution of “work”, employment and corporate structure, as well as, what you can do now to prepare yourself and your company for the coming changes.

We look forward to even more guest blogs by the authors as we explore what the Future of Work will mean for you and your companies in the coming years. Please use the contact information provided to reach out to the authors with any questions you have or start a discussion right here on our blog.

Tell us what you think the Future of Work will look like.

-Gordon Gooch

Introduction

Recently, the authors worked intensively with the executive team of a global company to determine what they needed to do to survive. The company was sinking fast and they knew it, but they didn’t know what to do to stem the flow of red ink and lost market share. The 60-year-old company had successfully weathered a number of restructurings, but something was different this time around. The Problem: their ‘vertical silos and horizontal slabs’ organizational structure was built for a bygone business era in which decision-making was focused on top-level management. The executive team knew that the silo and slab structure wasn’t working anymore but they didn’t know where to begin to rebuild the company for the networked era. They spent their management meetings bickering over yesterday’s numbers rather than focusing their energy on the real problem. The solution: They had to rapidly transform their company into a networked era organization. This was job 1 if they wanted to survive.

What’s so different about networked era organizations?

A networked era organization has specific attributes that set it apart. The authors routinely assess an organization’s “networked era maturity” by considering three sequential phases of networked era development. In phase 1, the company focuses on creating cutting edge instrumentation that enhances efficiencies in the business. In phase 2, the company focuses on the ability to connect the instrumentation so that dynamic, iterative conversations and connections are going on among people and machines. In phase 3, the focus is on intelligent, algorithmically powered, real-time feedback loops that drive continuous improvement. Phase 3 is the 21st century version of the Peter Senge’s learning organization; continuously ramping up organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Early adopters are either companies that don’t have 20th century legacy issues to grapple with (e.g. Facebook, SpaceX or Snapchat) or industries that have no choice (e.g. NASA or BP). Going into space or deep below the ocean requires really creative, technologically enabled solutions. The 3 phases are visually illustrated below in figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1

 

 Step I: Where to begin? Look in the rear view mirror and the windshield

Over the past 70 years the world of work has dramatically changed. How so? In terms of 1) how work is being done, 2) where it’s being done and 3) who is doing it. The future of work has little in common with the past. Today a worker is just as likely to be a robot or an algorithm as a human being. Naturally, the way we manage work must change as well. As startling as this new reality is to some, these changes have come in recognizable phases, encompassing the pre 1950’s manual era, moving to the mechanization era, evolving to the automation era and now to the networked era. Each phase is another development in information availability and automation of work. Then as now, the winners have taken advantage of these discontinuous changes to create market advantages, while companies that couldn’t keep up shrank or simply disappeared. In the 1970’s the successful business dominated its market by creating economies of scale, made possible through communication advances and ease of travel. In the 1980’s the winners used better information to successfully optimize their value streams. In the 1990’s growing transparency favored organizations that were matrixed, flattened, empowered and continuously improved. While each era was an improvement on the past, all were based on industrial era thinking. They were designed to optimize the vertical silos and horizontal slabs as efficiently as possible. Today these models have outlived their usefulness as new technologies have driven a sea change in the workplace. As illustrated below in figure 2, the networked era has little in common with preceding eras.

Figure 2

Figure 2

 Step 2: Design your company with the future of work in mind

In the Networked Era, companies migrate from an industrial silo and slab structure to networked organizational forms. Rather than structure themselves in functional silos that primarily communicate at the top, companies organize around tasks and challenges. A networked era company is organized around mission critical tasks and not functional silos. Interestingly, once this change is put in motion, individual work begins to naturally migrate to higher levels as algorithms and androids take on the more mundane and repetitive tasks. Past performance is defined and easily reviewed, so the bickering over what has happened in the past stops. The growing legions of knowledge workers now have the time, freedom and information to focus on higher-level business challenges, adding measurable value to the organization. It’s a win-win for all. The company becomes more open, flexible and innovative with increased organic collaboration across boundaries. Networked era organizations “bake in” organizational agility and decreased innovation cycle time. While this may sound like a daunting transformation, few businesses will be able to survive without taking the leap.

What should you do right now? We have developed an efficient lens through which to view your company’s networked era organizational fitness. Begin by assessing your company though this fitness lens and you will have taken the first big step on the road to your networked era transformation journey.

Step 3: Use Our Networked Era Organizational Fitness Lens

The networked era organizational fitness lens is the tool that we developed to quickly assess organizational capability in the networked era. By assessing each individual component we are able to understand where the company is on its journey to becoming a networked organization. This tool helps us define and understand the value and impact of specific investments an organization can make going forward. While your organization may be doing many things right, this lens serves as the top-level screen identifying gaps and opportunities.

Our Networked Era Fitness Lens as seen below in Figure 3 below has five interlocking components:

A: Robust technology backbone: A rock solid technology infrastructure

B: Right & ready Data Access: The right data, for the right person, at the right level    of granularity, at the right time

C: Collaborative Bias: Cross-boundary collaboration must be the cultural norm

D: Boundary Porosity: Internal/external organizational barriers must be low and porous

E: Talent Intensity: Highly specialized talent with contemporary “hard and soft” skills

 

Organizational Fitness Lens

Organizational Fitness Lens

 

Please join us next week to learn the secrets of using the Organizational Fitness Lens to make a difference in your company and see if you will survive the Future of Work.

About the Authors:

Les Martel

83936-041Les Martel is a senior level Organization Development professional with strong applied business acumen and a keen ability to link strategy with execution. Currently, he is Principal Consultant with Virtual Consulting International, a global strategy consulting firm based in New York City. Les works with organizations to meet the challenges of the emerging networked era organization to strategically reposition their business. Les focuses the talent capabilities needed for the business to thrive and the collaborative architecture needed to ensure seamless integration of strategy, people, processes and organizational structures regardless of physical location.

Previously, he was an Executive Consultant with Personnel Decisions International (PDI) serving key strategic accounts and a Senior Consultant at Development Dimensions International (DDI) designing, project managing & delivering talent & leadership development engagements on a worldwide basis. From 2000-2004 he was based in New York City as VP & Global Head Talent & People Development for The Instinet Corporation, the world’s largest global electronic securities broker. In that role he partnered with senior leaders to successfully drive a wide range of key strategic, operational, and human capital initiatives across the enterprise. For example, in that role he designed and deployed the first corporate-wide learning platform linking selection, talent assessment, performance management, & succession planning with mission critical business imperatives. He also created & implemented the external/internal emerging leader coaching & career path programs in addition to serving as the internal executive coach to top management.

Prior to joining Instinet, Dr. Martel was a Senior Leadership Development Consultant for Downey-Kates International, a strategic HR consulting firm based in New York City serving a diverse range of global clients. He specialized in executive assessment, feedback & development coaching as well as design & delivery of customized senior management leadership development programs.

Contact:
Lesmartel@gmail.com
203-887-6981

Jeff LoehrJeff-Loehr

Jeff is a strategy and organization design consultant based in New York City. He brings extensive international and cross industry experience, strategic insight and problem solving skills to bear on complicated issues at companies of all sizes – from startups to some of the world’s largest companies.

His experience includes and corporate strategy development, innovation, new market entry, risk management and creating effective organizations in the networked era to deliver effectively. Some of the companies he has worked with include: Butterball, Daimler Benz, the Ford Motor Company, Borax, Rio Tinto and Peabody Energy where he has been a leader in developing strategy and innovation projects that drive efficiency and rapid growth.

He is active in the design of new organizational models for the networked era and bringing new ways of working to companies looking to meet the challenges of a changing market. He has also developed innovation processes that have allowed both industrial and also consumer firms to reinvent themselves, create new operating models and redesign operations.

Jeff has an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.

Partner & Strategy Practice Lead
Stratalis Consulting – Strategy & Innovation for Growth
jeff.loehr@stratalisgroup.com
T: +1 206-450-8028
stratalisgroup.com

22 Oct 2015
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