The other day I posted the first seven of my "23 Theses" on the Reformation of Work.
Here's the next seven (big caveat: I know these are broad generalizations, and subject to plenty of qualifiers. But that's okay, since I'm not trying to predict an actual future, but rather stimulate conversation and thinking about what the world would be like if these conditions actually become reality):
8. Work will be more collaborative, less individualistic
People will shift their work activities to their core competencies for approximately 80% of their time. Everything else will be handed off to someone with complementary competencies. Individuals themselves will become less vertically integrated and grow loosely coupled collaborative networks to meet their needs outside their core competencies. No more "jack of all trades." The remaining time will be devoted to learning new skills and competencies.
9. Corporations will morph into confederations with shared liability
Modern corporations are an artificial legal structure created within the past one hundred years to minimize the risk associated with control of large asset bases. As Peter Drucker so aptly notes, they have out lived their usefulness. The assumptions that have underlain their need are not longer valid.
Primary among those assumptions is that large organizations were required to capitalize the investments required in the ownership of the means of production, such as factories. With a shift to more knowledge work this isnt necessary for a much larger portion of the working population. Confederations of business clusters will instead move to the forefront. They will be held together by strategy, rather than by ownership of assets.
10. Providing work support services will become an entire industry - and the primary source of what is currently your "back office" infrastructure
As the move towards individualism (i.e., free agency) approaches 20% of the workforce, the need for different workforce support structures will emerge as a business opportunity in itself. Companies (we prefer the term agencies) will grow to provide marketing, administrative services, retirement plan memberships, and group health insurance to these free agent workers. We believe this opportunity will grow out of existing outsourcing HR operations such as TMP, Spherion, and Exult in the 2005 - 2008 timeframe.
11. The stars will be "producers," not CEOs
The revelations of corporate greed and failed governance that came to light in 2002 are leading to a decrease in workers respect for business leaders. The cult of the CEO, which characterized the late 1990s, will quickly wane. That view will be replaced by a new category that emphasizes a small-unit leader, a person whose major competency is the ability to build teams. These team leaders will be the bridges between ideas and bringing products to market. Senior executives will eschew the traditional trappings of corporate power and will focus on status among their team members as a prime motivator. The era of Jack Welch as cultural icon has passed.
12. Employment law will change to recognize a new category of relationship of people to organization
In the early years of the 21st century two basic forms of worker/company relationship existed in the United States and most other industrialized countries. There was either an employee/employer relationship or a contractor relationship. Both these forms have proved to be inadequate for the new, more agile and fluid kinds of social relationships required by knowledge workers (the so-called creative class). We believe the nascent form of the new relationships will be built on the concept of Limited Liability.
Corporations or Partnerships pioneered in the legal, accounting, and consulting professions. Individual professionals will become in essence a company of one and band together for projects, which may operate as short-lived formal organizations for limited periods of time.
13. Health care and pension/retirement income management will become more of the individual's province and responsibility
The impending collapse of the United States health care industry will usher in a new form of support for LLCs, free agents, and other smaller businesses. People will no longer depend upon their primary employer for this type of social support; they will increasingly engage in management of their own affairs through intermediaries, such as guilds, professional associations, and other third-party organizations.
14. Pay for Performance
Several years ago there was a story on National Public Radio (September 5, 2002) about a gentleman who reached 100 and as promised sent his physician on a cruise.
As we move from a commodity production base (in the First World) to a service and knowledge economy, creative people will be compensated for their efforts based on how effectively they help their customers improve their own lives. Doctors will be paid to keep people well; professors incomes will be based on the incomes of their former students, accountants on wealth created, executives on a five-plus years return on investors money. The question will be What did I do to make your life easier, longer, more satisfying?, not How long did it take me to do it?
There's eight more Theses to follow. Stay tuned.