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Work Futures - Behind on Everything


Work Futures

September 27 · Issue #1001 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

I’m not jetlagged, I’m swamped.
Beacon NY - 2018-09-27 – Travel to China last week basically means I am a week behind on everything.
Then, yesterday, Tinyletter informed me that I had hit the limit on monthly newsletters. Note this not a limit on subscribers – which I was aware of – but an absolute limit on copies emailed. So to send out my newsletter I had to a/ sign up for Revue, an alternative, b/ pay for my ~3000ish subscribers, c/ import the subscribers, and d/ wait to be approved.
I looked at Squarespace which now has a beta implementation of newsletters integrated, but it lacks features. For example, newsletter text cannot be blockquoted?
I hope Revue works out.
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John Hagel on Twitter: For those who were not able to attend the Singularity Global Summit 2018, here’s a video of the panel I was on regarding strategies for an abundant world of work where I tried to provoke, including a provocation about diversity:
RenDanHeYi: The Organizational Model Defining The Future Of Work? | The Corporate Rebels have a short write up of the 2nd International RenDanHeYi Model Forum held last week in Qingdao. I was there too, and I am behind in getting my presentation posted.
Digital strategy secrets: how you should do digital transformation | Mark Frary talks to some smart folks like my pal, Euan Semple. I agree with David Woodhead, too:
Digital transformation is increasingly meaningless, since it’s used indiscriminately.
Euan gets in the last word, as usual:
“People talk transformation, but they only want tinkering,” says Mr Semple, arguing that most chief executives are not standing on the burning platforms that would make them jump.
This piece is part of a digital transformation special report.
The hot-desking open-office trend hits some speed bumps | Alison Duncan is not good with ‘hot desking’. It’s an aspect of ‘Anywhereism’, where you have no 'place identity’:
Since I don’t have an assigned desk, there’s not a place to store any belongings, like a planner or client materials, so I’ve had to downsize and still feel pretty disorganized a few months in.
[Pete] Bacevice [director of research at HLW, a global architecture and design firm] says that’s to be expected. “One measure that might make desk sharing a challenge is “place identity,” the extent to which one’s professional identity and sense of being is tied to or associated with a particular space, such as a teacher to a classroom,” he explains.
“This doesn’t mean that desk sharing won’t work, but if people feel a strong sense of identity to a company office, and maybe a particular space within it, it might be a challenge to feel as strong of an identity when they don’t always sit in the same spot.”
The tyranny of the problem solver | Peter Vander Auwera suggests we need to step out of the 'problem solving’ mindset if we want to change organizations:
I recently heard Nektarios Liolios from Startupbootcamp venting his frustrations on stage, as all the innovation efforts of the last decade have apparently not changed much, or at least not shipped anything substantial. They even start bypassing heads of innovation and innovation teams in general, as they are more and more seen as barriers between customers and the business units. They want to solve real business problems.
But I am afraid that a focus on real business problems won’t help. The only way to enable real change and lasting innovation is changing the structure of an organisation.
Structure is about more than reporting lines and P&L units. Structure is about the coherence of narrative, motives, and governance.
* The narrative is about purpose, about patrimony (tacit knowledge), “just-do-it” kind of mantra, action oriented. A narrative is rallying the troops to play the game in a certain way, in a certain context. In war, the game is to win. In business, I would hope it’s about more than winning a finite game, and there is some sense of moral, aesthetical and spiritual advancement, an infinite game across generations.
* Motives are about why we are doing this. There are primary/primal motives like prestige, promotion, reciprocity and tic-for-tac rewards/punishments. Once you add moral, aesthetical, and spiritual advancement, you are driven by second level motivations that have to do with care, tradition, craftsmanship, beauty, proportion, etc. In that sense, I believe that problem solving is a primal motivation. A more advanced intention of creating something great is a second level motivation. So the question should not be “what problem are you trying to solve?” but “what do you truly want to create?” If not, “solving problems” becomes a doctrine, just like “customer first” is a doctrine, or “FNAO”, or “Lean” or “Agile”. Applied across the board without thinking whether it makes sense. Being effective at doing the wrong thing.
* Governance is about how you organise and coordinate high quality flows to play the game in context. This is what real leadership is about. In that sense, innovation is a discipline. And there is nothing wrong with discipline. All great things/products/artworks have been a result of discipline. It is about “getting things done”. Jan Chipchase has an awesome fieldbook and practice for revealing – usually in plain sight – real customer needs. He articulates these needs as “desires on getting things done”. “Getting things done” is something quite different than “solving a problem”.
Artists don’t solve problems. Neither do real innovators.

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Stowe Boyd, 17 South Cedar Street, Beacon NY 12508