The future of work
A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to come across a recorded talk by Thomas Malone on the future of work. Tom is a great speaker and conveys his key messages very clearly, and the implications of the message is definitely important for anyone working on personal knowledge management or collaboration. To see why it’s worth reading Tom’s summary:
I think we’re in the early stages of an increase of human freedom in business that may, in the long run, be as important a change for business as the change to democracies has been for governments.
The reason I think that’s happening is because for the first time in human history it’s now possible to have the economic benefits of very large organizations — like economies of scale — and at the same time have the human benefits of very small organizations — things like freedom, flexibility, innovation and creativity. And the reason that’s possible is because a new generation of information technologies — like the Internet, the World Wide Web, e-mail and business intelligence — is now making it possible for huge numbers of people, even in very large organizations, to have enough information to make sensible decisions for themselves instead of just following orders from someone above them in the hierarchy.
There are some powerful messages here, especially for knowledge workers, for example a few of the implications that spring to mind are:
an individuals personal knowledge management and collaboration solution will become increasingly important
individuals and small groups will become more self sufficient units
these units dynamically form relationships with other individuals and teams and collaborate to get things done
This will result in a significant reduction in the need for stable, traditional command and control hierarchies.
There are some good additional resources available to dig deeper into his ideas:
- An interview with Gartner
- A paper – What do we really want? A manifesto for the organizations of the 21st Century
- A paper – Making the Decision to Decentralize
- A book – The future of work