There is a theory that every passing generation sees history repeating and that there is nothing new under the Sun. Those of us who were at the forefront of surfing the web in the early 1990s now stand before new frontiers. This time though, we are ready and we are determined to build Worlds that are better.
In my recent article on cyborgs I wrote about the fact that, far from constraining our humanity, tech will release and expand it. This generated a lot of interest and people have been asking me for more practical examples. One of the more tangible examples – that is wide open for exploration right now – is virtual reality.
If we are to build a future of work that is human, our approach to organisational structure and job design needs to change. How many times have we heard the mantra that we must design structures and roles across abstract need, not individuals? Why would we ever do that? Why would we ever decide the shape of a box and then try and squeeze the many sided human being into it?
Is the future of work going to be determined by the rise of the machines? Is the development of artificial intelligence going to leave us humans as redundant fleshy blobs? Or is it the case that, far from reducing the importance of humanity, the tech revolution will release it in a way that has never been possible before?
A copy of my article on encountering the ‘other’ at work that was published last week over at www.futureworkishuman.org
In the same week that the University & College Union (UCU) have gone out on a two day national strike, Jeremy Corbyn has restated his support for a move to collective pay bargaining in the Civil Service. But how do we balance the value of ‘strength in numbers’ against the responsibility of unions to secure the best deal for their members and for employers to offer more sophisticated proposals in the new public sector?
We know that the requirement for skills is changing in organisations, but what does this mean for traditional organisational shapes and career progression?
We have talked before about the shortfalls of Human Resources Management. Taking its principles from a so called ‘scientific’ approach to people management, we have shown how its approach has been to superimpose arbitrary structures on top of real organisational shapes, and then focus on attacking the rogue bits that don’t fit. Finally, we are realising this, and HR policies are the first to go up in smoke.
It became a new way of measuring success in people management. The concept of ‘Employee Engagement’ gained such currency that a whole field of practice developed to transform our workforces into efficient troops of evangelists who would go the extra mile without being asked (or paid for it). But has this changed anything? And does the idea of “engaged employees” still have any useful meaning?
If a progressive approach to people management is to mean anything at all, it has to find a way to replace the keystone of control with a new foundation of enablement. For all our theorising though, the surveillance led approach to management is building every day as new tech collides with old approaches to command structures.