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A lot of studies, articles and frameworks dealing with the future of work, outlining the 5, 7 or 8 key cornerstones for organizations to consider to successfully migrate into a bright future of work, are missing one key point: the People! Read why...

The Future of Work – all set, if there weren’t the people

A lot of studies, articles and frameworks dealing with the future of work, outlining the 5, 7 or 8 key cornerstones for organizations to successfully to consider to migrate into a bright future of work,

are missing one key point:

the People!

What, how that?

Don’t get me wrong, for sure they all deal with the people, wrapping e.g. human centric design, digital enablement, developing skills and talents etc. around them, and that’s absolutely right and essential!

What I am missing here, is, what has to be asked of the people, is there anything needed THEY have to contribute?

“there is no one homogeneous, positive minded mass of employees just waiting for the future of work”

If you think about larger organizations, with years or decades already operating, where people have adapted to “the system”, in their way of working and collaborating, their way of thinking, their behavior, and in the way they see themselves and others.

Nothing wrong with that, as “systems” are shaping people, only in rare cases it is the other way around.

A typical pattern is a “micro boxed” responsibility, a command & control top down pyramid, a system of rewards and punishment, a view at employees as abstract exchangeable resources, and a “Theory X view” on them (I am referring to Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y here).

“For many the change will go deep into their personality”

In a “future of work system”, fostering or based on trust, mutual respect, supportive mindset, openness and transparency, and a flexible organizational system with less hierarchies, for most people from the “old system”, this is a huge, even behavioral and mental change.

And yes, the “future of work system” and skill set setup is crucial, but even or even more crucial is what the people themselves do have to bring in, what they personally are willing to contribute and are willing to invest in their personal development.

“The people equally are requested to contribute and invest significantly and personally”

To get back to the point, sometimes I feel the role of people in the future of work discussion is too passive, some kind of demand attitude, like “please set up the right system for me”. From my perspective there is no “get the system ready” and it is all happiness and humanity, a jump in productivity and working in paradise!

The people themselves have to make their very own personal contribution and significant investment, of course supported by appropriate offerings in training and coaching, and a path worth for them to go.

“There will be a significant portion of employees actively jeopardizing the process”

And there always will be a significant proportion of employees and especially the middle management, who are not willing to change themselves or to work in that new “system”, and for a lot of others there is a long personal journey ahead to be considered.

Hence, this is not always a “soft” thing, that kind of “future of work system” needs rigorous control and mitigation of a behavior not complying to its rules and core values.

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Herbert von Kaufmann

With several years background in "traditional" management consulting, I am now focussing on the future of work and digital transformation subjects

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