“Knowledge workers are now untethered, able to perform tasks anywhere at any time. What do the best of them want from your organization?” asks Tammy Johns and Lynda Gratton in their very good article called “The Third Wave of Virtual Work” in the January-February 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review.
As the authors point out, there have been three major waves of change over the past thirty years about how knowledge based work has gotten done. “First, home computers and e-mail spawned an army of freelancers, offering both workers and employers new flexibility. Next, mobile technology and global teamwork made it possible for full-time employees to work anywhere and anytime without forsaking career progress and development within their companies. Now new ways of providing community and shared space are ameliorating a side effect of virtualization - worker isolation - and driving increased collaboration.”
As they further explain, “A major focus of the third wave’s new technology is to give workers the feeling of being in a shared environment. But virtual platforms can only go so far.... organizations and workers are also investing in a return to colocation of colleagues in the real world. “ Sometimes, these new co-working locations are called an “urban hub” or “work hub,” a well-appointed space for mobile workers. Think of it as “a frequent-fliers lounge without the airport” that features couches to worktables to boardrooms. Some of these work hubs are organized around particular communities of practice like web and game developers, writers, social entrepreneurs or inventors. It provides them an opportunity to “rub elbows” in a community setting with creative and supportive people.
To capitalize on this third wave of change, the authors suggest that employers should rethink their compact with workers on five fundamental dimensions:
- “the value of the relationship with a larger enterprise”
- “the settings in which work is done”
- “the organization of workflows and how individual contributors add value”
- “the technologies used to support higher achievement”
- “ the degree to which employment arrangements are tailored to individuals”
As we move from wave one, virtual freelancers, to wave two, virtual corporate colleagues, and on to the third wave, virtual coworkers, remember that these same workers feel they lack a sense of community and the richness of collaboration. With weaker social interaction and fun, these untethered workers are seeking neighborhoods and communities where they can recapture the best of what they had before globalization, “when citizens of communities felt their mutual dependence in every working moment, and connections were deep.” For those of you thinking about the future and starting strategic planning this year, I highly recommend reading this article. It is definitely worth the time and effort. Here is the link: http://hbr.org/2013/01/the-third-wave-of-virtual-work/ar/1.
For those of you are wondering whether or not you have the capacity to execute on the big ideas you will be exploring in 2013, then I suggest you read the following article called “Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills” by Paul J.H. Schoemaker, Steve Krupp, and Samantha Howland in the same January-February 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review mentioned above. As they explain, “The storied British banker and financier Nathan Rothchild noted that great fortunes are made when cannonballs fall in the harbor, not when violins play in the ballroom. Rothchild understood that the more unpredictable the environment, the greater the opportunity - if you have the leadership skills to capitalize on it.” Through their research at the Wharton School and at their consulting firm involving more than 20,000 executives to date, the authors have identified six skills that “when mastered and used in concert, allow leaders to think strategically and navigate the unknown effectively.” These skills are the following: the ability to anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align and learn. “An adaptive strategic leader - someone who is both resolute and flexible, persistent in the face of setbacks but also able to react strategically to environmental shifts - has learned to apply all six at once.”
This article describes the six skills in details and includes a delightful self-assessment that will enable you to identify the ones you need to improve. This is a good article and will help those of you who are planning for the future to make sure you have people involved who can apply all six skills at once. Here is the link to this article: http://hbr.org/2013/01/strategic-leadership-the-esssential-skills/ar/1
If you do not have people with this degree of capacity, then I encourage you to enroll your key up and coming people in the 2013 From Vision to Action Leadership Training which will help them improve their skills in all six areas. Here is a link for more information about this unique learning opportunity: http://www.chartyourpath.com/VTA-Leadership-Training.html
Planning for the future is important. Now is the time to think about big ideas and to make sure you have the capacity to execute them when the time is right. Be prepared; the future is just around the corner.