A Different Future of Work




Jacob Morgan over at Forbes has a great write-up about a recent meeting he held with HR and business leaders about The Future of Work . Talentism is about systematically unleashing human potential, and so I read Jacob’s piece with great interest. We have different points of view about some of his findings. Our perspective:

The mentality of leaders must shift from creating a place where they assume people need to show up, to creating a place where people want to show up.

Leaders must design and sustain organizations that unleash potential. It isn’t about feeling good (happiness). It is about being good (meaning). People love to watch movies. That doesn’t mean that showing Gladiator at work will produce a better workplace.

How can they create a sense of purpose for tens or hundreds of thousands of employees with different needs? They can’t. Each person has their own sense of purpose. You can’t create it, but you can discover it. So the real question is how you design an organization that discovers each person’s sense of purpose. The secret: start with the CEO.

Executives are still trying to understand what data is available, what they can do with it, and insights they can glean.

As I will discuss next week at the ATKearney event, more data is likely to lead to more confusion. Data can be used to answer important questions (like, “What are you really good at?”). But it can’t substitute for a well designed culture, work, and excellent management. These are the structures that create clarity.

HR and IT are building stronger relationships than ever before. Together these two roles have the power to drive great change and they will be spearheading many initiatives around the future of work.

HR should focus on becoming business drivers, not better partners with other support organizations. Business is people, and the fact that HR doesn’t sit at the real strategy table should be the big thing that concerns them.

The challenge here is how to scale this change and how to keep every function moving at the same pace so nobody gets left behind. The change will only scale as fast as the people can change. In any change there will be some who accelerate and some who decelerate. If you set coordination as a goal you will sub-optimize the intended benefit of the change.

None of the business leaders are assuming that the relationship today is the same as the work relationship that existed even 5-10 years ago.

The long-term trend in employer-employee relationships can be summed up as less security, more freedom, more choice, more confusion. The forces that are driving this are accelerating. We believe the next stage in this relationship is Talentism: treating talent investors as capital investors, with the most common expected return being self-discovery.

This goes to show that there isn’t a single approach for every company. Right, because there isn’t a single approach for every person. Business is people. Don’t focus on companies. Focus on people. This is the mentality that organizations need. Test, experiment, and do so quickly and frequently.

Start with people. Most people don’t know their purpose or talents. Work is the path of discovery. We can’t have productive experiments to help people discover their individual points of excellence unless we celebrate mistakes, sort people who aren’t a good fit for the culture, and design for people.


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