Changes Coming in the Workplace

I’ve written several times about changes that are affecting IT, hard problems and the rise of collaboration thinking.   Gartner Group a while ago published an interesting list called, Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years which is most interesting.  The ideas in this post are very similar to the idea we see in the Enterprise 2.0 writings such as the ideas around weak links, work swarms, being hyper-connected and working with the collective.   All these are clear collaboration related ideas.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit several places recently where I’ve seen teams working in this fashion. Real offices and teams where the people work well together, move fast, can complete one another’s sentences and genuinely have fun every day.   It is really a joy to see a group of people working together in a fast paced, fun, highly connected fashion.  The trick in the corporate world is to get this kind of environment to scale up and across a geographically distributed workforce.   It is a real challenge.

Technology can and must play a role in helping things scale up.   Collaborative tools like Google Docs, Sharepoint and Confluence can make a huge difference in the workplace where teams can have ways to work together that simply did not exist 10 years ago.   Improved search plays a role in helping connect people to each other and to answers quickly.  Improved mobile platforms from phones to slates together with connectivity back to the enterprise for email through BI can transform how a team gets things done.   Remember the dramatic impact your first Blackberry had on your connectedness and productivity?   We in IT must keep delivering those breakthrough services to our business partners, suppliers and customers.

However, all of this requires change in thinking too.   Individuals and teams have to learn to work together differently in this new world.  Collaboratively editing a document online together feels really different.   Your document that you are presenting next Tuesday might be edited simultaneously by 2-3-23 people over the course of a few days to make it perfect.  You won’t control the document because the group is working on it!  This is a lot different than someone making a draft and emailing it around for comments.   Online collaboration is different.   You have to get used to it.    You also have to learn to trust the cloud and trust that the network will be there.    IT has to make it reliable and you have to learn to trust that it will be there.

So, Gartner Groups article above is true.   All those points might not be true, but change is upon us.

(I wrote this months ago and forgot to publish it!)

4 thoughts on “Changes Coming in the Workplace”

  1. Hi Mark,

    I saw your blogpost this morning and then ran across this blogpost on HBR about the unintended uses of collaboration platforms. The blogpost talks about how IDEO uses internal collaboration hubs as reputation-development systems for use in employee performance metrics. The transactional data from the collaboration platform is being fed into the performance evaluation process:

    The design firm IDEO employs the second philosophy, in their case, using an internal collaboration hub specifically designed to capture peer feedback and serve as a reputation-development tool. Each individual’s site includes a portfolio of his or her personal work, blogs, upcoming team commitments (evidence of demand), and rich profiles that provide other colleagues with an appreciation of the individual’s varied interests.

    Which made me think that this system must have inevitably influenced the IDEO employees to be more collaborative. Interesting concept. Do you think something like this is possible at our workplace?


  2. Saqib, I don’t know about this moving into performance management in the near future, but I do recall that Sun Microsystems had something related in place for a while where people interacted via their collaboration workplace and then they were somehow scored on the contributions, times referenced by others, etc. I thought it was a fascinating concept. People probably/maybe informally know who the problem solvers are in the workplace and they know who gets things done. It would be interesting to be able to measure that somehow. Thanks for stopping by.

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