Sunday, 20 April 2014

Changing the World of Work

"After all, technology is changing everything in our modern world. It's our liberator, our friend, our temptress, and our salvation. But technology won't change the world for the better - people will." Susan Scrupski, Founder Change Agents Worldwide

Changing the World of Work. One Human at a Time is the first e-book by Change Agents Worldwide (CAWW), a network of progressive and passionate professionals who specialise in the future of work.

The resource is the result of a collective effort. Each Change Agent shares his/her personal thoughts on how to introduce change to the enterprise to achieve higher engagement, innovation and productivity. The outcome is a fresh and original collection of twenty-one essays focusing on overcoming organisational inertia and forging a connected workforce founded on trust.

The production of this e-book is a small example of how we work at Change Agents Worldwide: Managerless, but not leaderless. Everyone was engaged because they wanted to be. No one was forced to work, yet all those involved were excited to lend a hand. All work was done transparently, out in the open, working “out loud.” Skills and passions came out of the woodwork and everyone learned along the way.” 

Here are some highlights from each essay. You may want to read the manual all to find the content that inspires you the most, apply it to your work and hopefully, help to change it for the better.




Pivotally and profoundly, unlock your own full potential as an individual worker, colleague, citizen. Cultivate your own brand offering so as to be able to say: “This is how I most add value, this is how I make the biggest difference."

Internally, the omnipresent hierarchies and control mindset that have prevailed during the industrial age no more fit the necessary coopetitive and network-oriented attitude required to accomplish many of the tasks assigned to teams. Most of what could be automatized or reduced to fixed process-based outcomes have been made so, and higher-level tasks can only be dealt with by more sense-making and creative thinking, by continually unlearning and learning.

The announcements about the latest tool will not lead to the business results your organization seeks. It’s time to really understand the importance of two-way communications and bring in the right tools to enable it. And if your leaders use the tools in how they work, your success of adoption will be high. Think about how you send, receive, share, and store knowledge in your organization and what tools will help you the most in your particular culture.

I am Gen Y. Make me treat my job as a business, where I am the CEO and ultimately responsible. Force me to make the tough decisions while also doing the dirty work. If I need resources that you can’t provide, let me seek them out and negotiate. Ownership of the process and execution will give me pride in the outcome, engaging me as I feel the satisfaction of independent accomplishment.

Give everyone a megaphone: Let your employees’ voices be heard — vertically, horizontally, and diagonally throughout the company. The best way to do this today is by introducing an enterprisewide social networking tool. In addition to other benefits, you’ll essentially be giving every employee a megaphone to have their own say. Many will be shy at first — after all, employee voices have been stifled for years — but eventually their ideas, passions, and unique perspectives will pour out onto the pages of your social platform.

The world needs each of us to hear the call in the distance and move. The people making a difference are leaping one step at a time. At the top of the hill you will see more than you’ve ever seen before. You will feel exhausted and exhilarated. You will gain perspective and you will see opportunity. You will find a new way to thrive in the world. Go ahead. Climb.



If you believe change is needed but don’t know where to start, consider a very simple approach: revisit the annual objectives. Make 50 percent of the bonus count for engagement and exploration of better ways of working.

How to ensure the failure of your change initiative: Don’t demonstrate how tools can be used to improve your working life — let people try to figure it out themselves with no guidance. And finally, make absolutely sure that senior leadership and program sponsors never use these tools or promote them.


We don’t know exactly how it happened. Our chroniclers believe it started around 2020, when networks became an invisible fabric of society. Everyone and everything was connected to everyone and everything else. The very notion of connecting didn’t make sense anymore; we no longer connected to a network, the connection was just there. All you had to do was maintain a social presence, a virtual existence within the fabric of society.

Switching a (traditional) company’s mindset from “knowledge is power” to “sharing is power” requires a lot of evangelizing and convincing. Chances are good that you will often receive a positive response. But don’t let yourself be blinded by this. By far, this does not mean that these colleagues will immediately change habits they have been used to for decades. You will need to search for like-minded colleagues to spread the ideas. The good thing is that you can use your network to do this.

Rethinking how we pay people for an era defined by networked collaboration represents an important element in the quest for ongoing improvements in performance. It’s an under-explored yet central issue for tomorrow’s organizations.

Harold Jarche
All organizations today are dealing with increasing complexity. The answer is to restructure with looser hierarchies and stronger networks. How can this be done? First of all, open social networks in the enterprise can promote “working out loud,” which, in turn, fosters a greater diversity of opinions. These increasing connections will drive innovation. But this new structure requires people who are actively seeking new knowledge, making sense of it, and sharing freely.


If there is any chance of changing the way your company works, employees must be able to exercise more than obedience, diligence, and skill. Rather, they must be able to flex their muscles of ingenuity, creativity, passion, and ingeniousness.

The modern company requires flexible and agile employees. A breadth of skills and competencies are necessary. Your people need to be able to lead and follow in different contexts and circumstances. It is also likely that they will require deep knowledge and skills in one or more disciplines, allowing them to fulfill a subject matter expert role as required.

Visibility through stories and activity streams. Storytelling is more powerful than official, crafted messages. “Look what they did” means more than “Our strategy is to do this.” Activity streams connect people across the organization, showing who’s doing what. Activity streams are always on, in the background, ready for people to tap into when relevant. Stories punctuate organizational change, inspiring people to experiment with new ways of working.

Writers such as Steven Johnson in “Where Good Ideas Come From” and Keith Sawyer in “Group Genius” help us understand that innovation comes from working together, not alone. The best outcomes come from creating an environment where individuals can think and learn together.

In your job, whenever you have to design a project or achieve a task that supports the classical Top-Down frame, think about doing it a different way. Explore how you could turn a passive audience, aimed at receiving messages from the top, into an active one. Leverage collective intelligence and people’s willingness to be treated as adults in the workplace.

Your knowledge, experience, relationships, and background matters, to you, to your company or organization, and to your colleagues. Develop a robust profile, participate in the flow of activity streams. Evolving your network identity helps colleagues and co-workers readily discover the nature of your work and tap skills or knowledge they may need.

Simon Terry 
The most common characteristic of high-performing organizations is to offer employees the ability to exercise their discretion, make improvements, and take considered risks. You can’t do that without a culture of trust. 
Deciding to trust your own choices of talented people is the first step to the future of work.



Working Out Loud (WOL) involves creating and amplifying transparent work within the enterprise via personal behaviors and networked digital capabilities — increasing connections to knowledge, expertise, ideas, and progress.
An important consideration is not always focusing on “What’s in it for me right now?” but on shifting our thinking to “What will best balance satisfying immediate needs, yet still nourish future opportunity in the process?”

Now let me tell you about a corporate leader I know, a senior executive. This leader is most interested in the success of the enterprise...and do what’s right for the corporation...He enjoys hearing about novel approaches to corporate problems...He creates an environment where a certain amount of experimentation is encouraged and wants to bring his company quickly into the future.