Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: October 2010

This is the October 2010 issue of our free monthly newsletter, Future of Work Agenda. We welcome comments on any of these articles. You can also access the newsletter directly on our website, at this link.

It’s often said that it’s darkest before dawn. But we like to pay more attention to the “early light” that always precedes sunrises. And we think we may be seeing some early signs of an economic re-awakening. No, the traditional signals (GDP growth, dropping unemployment statistics) haven’t shifted yet, but we do see plenty of evidence that innovation is alive and well—and we truly believe that’s a “weak signal” that a healthy recovery may be just over the horizon.

We don’t base that assessment on hard-nosed quantitative data or traditional leading indicators, but on our own gut sense of what’s happening across the business landscape.

Just look at the plethora of research reports, white papers, and new technology products that are popping up all over the place; see our “Future of . . .” sections for an almost overwhelming sample of what innovators and thought leaders are doing and thinking about today. And be prepared for some very exciting developments as these kinds of ideas make their way into the mainstream of the world economy over the next several years.

Pay attention, also, to the plethora of new startups beginning to appear. They may not be getting the kind of funding that stoked Silicon Valley earlier in the decade, but they are beginning to produce many exciting new products and services.

For us, however, all the technological and management innovation in the world isn’t going to change the way businesses operate on a day-to-day basis—until practicing managers grow up and begin acting like adults who are focused on achieving results. That’s the theme of our feature article this month, “Oh, Grow Up!” We hope you’ll find it provocative and perhaps even useful in your own work.

We also introduce you to three more of our Future of Work Associates, Dave McCarty, Jacob McNulty, and Jen McClure (coincidentally, the only three “Mc’s” in the group). You’ll find them every bit as interesting and talented as the rest of the Associates, and we encourage you to call on them (and us) as you create your own future of work.


Charlie and Jim

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1. Feature Article: Oh, Grow Up!

Being an adult. And behaving like one. What a radical concept! A recent conversation reminded us of how central the basic notions of accountability and taking personal responsibility for one’s actions are to the future of work. The more distributed organizational work becomes, the more critical it is to develop results-based management systems, and to build cultures that value, expect, and reward adult behaviors.

2. Meet The Associates

We recently invited a small group of people to become Future of Work Associates, a new community of world-class experts who, like us, are committed to helping create the future of work. We introduce several more of the Associates here, in the belief that the more you get to know them the more you’ll want to engage with us and them as you create your own future.

3. The Future of Technology

Two stories about how the new social media and “cloud computing” are becoming essentially mainstream—and changing the way we human beings relate to each other. Plus a wonderful story about augmented reality and how it’s going to change the way we related to things.

4. The Future of Place and Space

Two stories about telecommuting (it’s happening more and more, and telecommuters like it – big surprise!). And one about where to find the world’s best brains.

5. The Future of People and Organizations

McKinsey Consulting has just republished a classic, comprehensive review of the research on change management. Well worth a serious read.

6. The Future of Work Design

All kind of exciting things happening on this front. A summary of major trends affecting us all from Intuit and Emergent Research, a compelling vision of the future of cities, and a comprehensive look at the future of work from London Business School.

7. What’s Happened/Happening?

Brief announcements and notes about where Jim and Charlie have been, are, and will be, holding forth in public conversations and other activities.

As usual, your comments and reactions to any of these articles are more than welcome. Please send your thoughts to us at any time.