First posted on LinkedIn June 20, 2016
Let’s face it, as far as the Knowledge Economy goes, the concept of a traditional workforce is dead and buried.
What is a workforce anyway? A force that does work, perhaps? What work? Why that sort of work? How does it do the work? Where and when does it do the work?
Today’s knowledge economy reality
|Traditional Workforce rules of engagement||Today’s Knowledge Economy reality|
|What||A manager tells you what to do||A leader sets direction and expects you to get on with it|
|Why||You do it for pay, recognition and the social aspects of going to work||You do it because it aligns to your own vision of what you want to achieve as well as the organisation you work for|
|How||You get some training in what to do||You get some development in how to take accountability for delivering the organisation’s purpose|
|Where||In a workplace such as a factory or office||Anywhere you can get Wi-Fi or 3G|
|When||‘Nine to five’||Anytime that suits|
Clearly some aspects of today’s reality can lead to organisations taking the proverbial ****, such as expecting people to be always available and willing and able to turn things around in the hours of darkness between working days. That said, the new reality enables personal agency and demands people take accountability for delivery, and when the freedoms of technology are used judiciously, this can help with choice and work life balance.
One thing’s for certain, change is accelerating at an incredible pace. Politically (Irreversible Public Sector cuts, coalition governments, referenda requiring us to take accountability to determine our own futures), economically (1 in 7 are now self-employed), Sociologically (Big Society) as well as technologically.
Perhaps the new normal requires a new approach to the idea of a workforce? Perhaps organisations need a changeforce, rather than a workforce?
A force for change
A changeforce still needs direction from a leader to set the course, but they would know how to go about delivering that course because they have been raised on dealing with and leading change, they do it because leading change aligns to their personal life choices, and they definitely do it any time, any place, anywhere, because they are truly ‘always on’. The average Smartphone user already checks their device 150 times a day (source: Vodafone).
I’m reminded of a military analogy – the armed forces spend much of their training developing the skills the troops need to do their jobs (i.e. the ‘hows’). In ‘theatre’, when a commanding officer instructs the troops what is to be done, (s)he does not waste time telling them how to do it. They already know. Rather, the ‘what’ direction is interpreted by the troops on the ground into ‘how’ to get on with it by drawing on their trained-in skills.
A changeforce should therefore spend most of their developmental time learning how to be a force for change. This is NOT learning project management skills, but rather learning how they will go about:
- Communicating the change vision with clarity
- Engaging others in change
- Facilitating organisational learning
- Assessing organisational readiness for change
- Realising the benefits of change.
So I’m curious; how’s your changeforce development shaping up?
Jeremy J Lewis
Committed to making a difference in organisation effectiveness and sustainable change