The Future of Work

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not fighting the old, but on building the new.

Category: Leadership

Redefining failure

Failure, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is defined as a ‘lack of success’, or ‘an unsuccessful thing or thing’.  A word which by definition and through traditional use of the English language is surrounded in negativity connotations, but when deconstructed does not actually anywhere say it is final.

However our use of the word is often deemed absolute.  ‘We failed, it’s over.’ ‘I failed.’ And this is an approach, and a view, as businesses and individuals we need to address.

Failure is rarely final, it is a temporary state where you have simply found one method which won’t let you achieve your objective.  In fact, if anything, it takes you one step closer to your goal, so long as there are lessons learnt.

In a lot of businesses, too much time is spent on deconstructing failure, pointing fingers, or finding an individual to blame.

However the future approach should be to ensure you fail quickly enough and at a level which allows for the lessons to be learned and taken forward to the next failure without too much loss of momentum.

Only through redefining failure as a critical stepping stone to success, will you ensure staff feel the freedom to make mistakes without fear of repercussion so long as it is moving you forward.

So what does failure look like for you and your business?

Technology is the making, not breaking, of effective management

Its a phrase which must have been uttered millions of times throughout the decades, “ all this technology is destroying jobs”. Since the industrial revolution advances in technology have advanced production capability in every market possible and replaced tasks which had been previously been done by humans.

And as technology advances we now face possibility of robotised humans being able to replace us in form as well as function. And what chance do we have, if, as Mattie from sci-fi series Humans professes, “why study 7 years to become a lawyer, when you can train a synth to remember it all in 7 seconds?”

And apparently, we should be worried because up to 35% of jobs will be eliminated by new computing and robotics in the next 20 years. Despite the fact there remains little evidence (at least in the long run) that the technology which makes us more effective is affecting employment rates.

But still, here we are in 2015, with people arguing whether the
‘new technologies’, are now in line to replace managers too!

Management and leadership can’t be programmed

If my time in management and leadership positions has taught me anything, is that neither position can be done successfully by following process or formula. So much of management and leadership is done on experience, intuition and ‘feel’.

And then there are the core, softer skills of holding such a position. If there is anything examples like robot bina48 and similar teach us, it is that robots are a long way from developing an understanding of emotions, and the skills of highly effective managers such as empathy, compassion, and and understanding of situations outside of the raw facts involved.

It is my belief that whilst technology is constantly changing the world of work, and its role will only increase in the future, it will only serve to prove the worth of strong leaders and managers. With technology bringing consistency and scale to the production side of a business, the stage is set for strong leadership and management of knowledge workers to be the difference between successful and failing businesses.

Future Leaders Won’t Need Authority

The common belief, the the historical view, around leadership is that it comes from the top.  Ask for examples of strong leadership and you will hear stories of company CEOs acting as figure heads for their business and employees from the top position. 

But a forward thinking, progressive business off 2015 needs leadership in all areas.  You don’t have to be in a position of authority to lead change.  You can lead through initiatives, innovation, new ways of thinking, or culturally from any position within a business.

And more than just being possible, it is critical for businesses operating in 2015 and looking to build structures and ways of working which are suitable for the future. Having people with leadership capabilities at all levels of the business.

Take David, one of our recent recruits into the Tecmark development team. From a position of no direct line management, David has shown leadership which has had a positive impact on our business.  He has arranged knowledge sharing sessions between the creative team which allow designers, developers, and anybody else who wants to be involved the cross skill and develop themselves. The effects been contagious and has spread to otters departments.

Then there is Salma, from a similar position she has embodied our mission statement “to deliver results out of the reach of our competitors” and has brought an air of perfectionism to the team that is great to see.  Constantly encouraging peers and challenging them to do better, without any need for traditional authority over their work.

If business structures are to become more fluid and non-traditional in the future, then it is critical that there is leadership from all levels.  And for the employee of 2020 it will start to become the number one requirement to be successful in their role.

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