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Back to Basics: Organizations are as Unique as Individuals

In 1928 the Belgian artist René Magritte painted a picture of a pipe (the kind you fill with tobacco). The painting, called “The Treachery of Images,” now resides in the Los Angeles County Art Museum. Under the image of the pipe are the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” French for “This is not a pipe.” In other words, although the painting is very realistic, it is not the real thing; it’s just a representation.

In similar fashion, this is not an organization:

org chartActually it’s not even an image of an organization; it depicts only two components of organizational reality: the division of work into specialty areas, and a hierarchy or power structure.

Of course, actual organizations are far, far more complex than the charts we typically rely on to depict power and authority relationships. In fact, those images tell us almost nothing about how an organization actually operates; they provide no information whatsoever about the processes, procedures, operating principles, or values and culture that are part of every organization and guide the way its members create products or services. Read more

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. [continue reading...]

Taking Charge of Your Future

Charlie Grantham and I were honored to be the keynote speakers at the Corenet Carolina’s Chapter major learning event in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 18. The program, “The Future of Work:  People, Process, & Places,” was attended by over 300 workplace and real estate professionals. Here’s our presentation:

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: July-August 2010

This is the July-August 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.

By the time you read this newsletter it will be almost August, followed closely by September. Where did the summer go?

Actually, of course, if you are anything like us, you may slow down just a bit during the summer months, but it’s generally more satisfying to stay busy (we know we’re ignoring our friends and colleagues in the southern hemisphere, but we hope you’ll bear with us). [continue reading...]

Raising the Bar on Flexible Work

Just found a very compelling report on the role that flexible work has in supporting corporate agility and strategic flexibility. It’s a new report prepared by Sandy Burud, Ph.D, of Flexpaths, a firm we know and have had many conversations with.

There’s a brief summary of the research and the report on the Sloan Work and Family Network website (which I found via twitter – @sloannetwork). [continue reading...]

Going Mobile Overnight: Business Continuity Insurance

This is a reprint of the Compass article from our September Future of Work Agenda newsletter. We are reproducing it here to call attention to the importance of preparing for the upcoming flu season in North America, and the value of having a flexible/mobile work program as a means of coping with a pandemic.

By Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham

It’s fall here in North America, and the flu season is upon us. Most of us know there’s a greater risk than normal this year because of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as Swine Flu. Clearly, we all hope it won’t turn into a pandemic, but that possibility remains very real.

However, this isn’t a plea for you to get a flu shot (though you should, and we certainly plan to). Rather, it’s a reminder that unlikely but possible events like a pandemic, a hurricane, an earthquake, a transit strike, or—heaven help us—a terrorist attack could play havoc with your business. As Alvin Toffler pointed out many years ago, it’s those low probability/high impact external events that can create genuine “future shock” if you haven’t included them in your thinking.

While many organizations do have detailed business continuity and risk abatement plans, our experience suggests that very few of those plans include the best response of all:  a remote/mobile work program.

Read more

C.K. Prahalad Discovers Corporate Agility

I was very pleased to read C.K. Prahalad’s back-page commentary in the September 21 issue of Business Week (“In Volatile Times, Agility Rules“).

The message is a basic one:  when the future is uncertain, you’ve got to be able to shift both your strategy and your operations in a nanosecond.

. . . Terrorism and pandemics pose threats of major disruptions.

[continue reading...]

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: September Issue

This is the September 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.

We’re baaack. A little later than usual, but on the ground and running at full speed—even faster than normal, if that’s possible.

Hope your summer was a good one. [continue reading...]

New Book on Cost-Efficient, Sustainable Facility Practices to Debut at World Workplace

We are very pleased to share the following special announcement from the IFMA Foundation (Charlie and I authored one chapter of the book and did much of the production and quality-control editing):

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HOUSTON — (Sept. 11, 2009) — The IFMA Foundation is pleased to announce a new publication detailing how facility professionals can immediately cut operating costs, institute sustainable building practices and gain a voice in the strategic facility decisions made within their organizations.

Cut it Out: Save for Today, Build for Tomorrow is an 11-chapter quick-reference guide focused on efficiency and featuring distinguished authors from organizations such as Jones Lang LaSalle, SCAN Health Plan, iNPOINT Advisors and the Work Design Collaborative.

The new book will be formally unveiled during a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. during the International Facility Management Association’s World Workplace 2009 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. It has been produced in partnership with Steelcase, JohnsonDiversey, Acuity Brands and other industry-leading companies.

Read more

The June Issue of Future of Work Agenda

[This newsletter was emailed to registered subscribers on Sunday evening, June 7. We are reproducing it here for your convenience. The newsletter is also available through our website at this link. You can subscribe to the newsletter here; we produce 11 issues a year, every month except August. The newsletter is free and will remain so as long as possible.]

From Jim and Charlie

We’re struck by the way the future seems to be getting even more uncertain than we thought possible just a month ago. [continue reading...]