The new world of work

WORKI recently listened to a lecture by Thomas Malone on the “New world of work”, I enjoyed the lecture although the material in it was not too surprising.  That said the implications on IT are considerable as the old concept of a single infrastructure for all of an enterprises employees starts to collapse as those employees become a fragmented mix of oursourced, contractors, suppliers, small isolated teams in internal markets etc.  Tom describes 4 models for the future of the distributed workplace:

  1. Loose Hierarchies — with flat organisation structure and substantial autonomy granted to individual business units, subject to overarching principles, review and budget control (e.g. consultancies, universities, technology developers)
  2. Democracies — where all employees, or all managers, get an equal vote on some or all key corporate decisions
  3. External Markets — where most of the non-executive jobs are outsourced to independent businesses and contractors, so all ’employees’ essentially become ‘suppliers’, with the commensurate rights and autonomy
  4. Internal Markets — where each business unit, and even individuals within business units, contract with each other as if they were dealing at arms’ length, so, every business unit and every employee acts much like an autonomous business

To get a good overview of the topic check out David Pollards review, and comments

A keynote by Tom available on IT Conversations

An article in CIO magazine – the decentralization imperitive

Tom’s book The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life 

Here is a summary of the book:

We are in the early stages of an increase in human freedom in business that may in the long run be as important a change for business as the change to democracy was for governments. New technologies are making it possible for the first time in human history to have the economic benefits of very large organizations and, at the same time, to have the human benefits of very small organizations, things like freedom, flexibility, motivation and creativity. Information technology is reducing the costs of communication to such a low level that it’s now possible for huge numbers of people even in very large organizations to have all the information they need about the big picture to make their own decisions for themselves about what they do rather than waiting for people above them in some hierarchy to tell them what to do.


Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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