Lloyd Davis organised an excellent Tuttle Breakfast at at OneAlfredPlace (which I would recommend looking into, if you are after membership of an executive London Club). The theme was the future of work, and social media’s place in that future.
Lloyd reminded us that our careers won’t be like our parents, or even like those of our older brothers and sisters, if we have them. This is definitely a theme across all of the industries I am involved in. Workers are changing, work places are changing, and the style of career development is changing. In my parent’s generation, people had at most three or four ‘careers’ in their lifetime. That meant shifting between industries or skill sets was an infrequent occurrence, definitely not the norm. But these days some people have that lifetime of changes within a couple of years of each other.
There isn’t just an increase pace, there is an increased flexibility, and a commitment to learning, that is required. Self-career management is no longer an option, it is a mandatory requirement. In the media industry, cheap distribution of content and social media are turning existing business models upside down. In the tech industry, off-shoring to India and China are ringing the changes. Each sector can recount its own tale of change, as we more to a ‘flat(er) earth’, driven by cheap global communications and increased mobility.
How do you embrace this globalisation at a personal level? The social media world has embraced the change, celebrating our increased connectedness and openness, so there is always insight from the folks at the Tuttle Club. Dan talked about a change from work, to passion. I think some people may struggle to find passions that pay, but I agree that we are seeing an evolution from institutional job design to self-designed careers. Then Rob spoke about moving from business 1.0 networking to the shared creation of ideas, and the emerging opportunities for new and old. Unused desk space in larger businesses can be turned into cash, and incubate a new generation of companies. Unusual skill sets working together can fuel innovation.
However, it is still not clear to me how ideals like open source, creative commons and unconferences will mesh with the ‘traditional’ business and leadership world. I joined a discussion with a group conversation that included David Wilcox, Jemima Gibbons and Anne Marie Mcewan and others (sorry crew, I didn’t capture all of the names – if you would like, please add yourself or others in the comments and I’ll edit you in).
There was some passionate talk about leadership, and how social media surfaces the ‘shadow network’ that exists insides businesses and allows them to operate, and emerging leadership styles, such as quiet leadership.
One thing that is foremost in my mind at the moment is how ‘anti-commercial’ models like open source and business can co-operate with each other, beyond just a marketing-lead engagement. We already know that they can co-exist, witness Wikipedia and hundreds of opensource software products in use, but these things are like oil and water.
We need an emulsion of these different philosophies to enable new innovation – taking these two valuable, immisible liquids and shaking them together until they mix with each other. Maybe that is Enterprise 2.0? Corporate governance, trading and employment laws and business models need to adapt to our increasingly knowledge driven world, just we ourselves must adapt, but the Internet-enabled collaborative world also needs to adapt as well.
When we encounter situations that don’t fit, change needs to happen. Being maladaptive isn’t a sustainable position, and it certainly isn’t a productive one. We need to change the environment, change ourselves, or most likely change both, to create sustainable careers and workplaces.