The UBERisation of the workplace

They say that new generations will rock our world, in the future, but they don’t have the patience to read an article until the end. Prove your critics and myself wrong!

Having an interesting discussion with Prof. Dave Ulrich, forward thinker and author who concentrated his research on how Human Resources Capabilities leverage overall strategy, challenged me to imagine tomorrow’s workplace.

 

And that makes me think in 3 main directions:

  • Leadership theories (and culture)
  • Disruptive innovations
  • Millennials

Although everybody is talking about leadership and there are over 221,498 books on this matter on Amazon only, little has happened fundamentally different in how organizations function since their creation to what we see now.

 

What Prof. Ulrich said is that organizations have to make the shift from a complex world towards a “change” world. But I would push this argument forward by saying that every individual has to make that shift. Every individual will have to adapt his competencies set to a constantly changing world. Every person will have to market and brand herself so to stay employable and not so much an employee. And as the market is fast paced in making this reality happen at individual level, they will have to be differently led.

Leaders and their organization will have to create the cultures, then the micro cultures at teams level and then the right frameworks in such a way to make gatherings of individuals better than the sum of their competencies set.

 

Millennials will make this evolution happen sooner than we think. And innovative companies will give their Chief People Officer the rightful seat at the table and the mission to build the needed leadership culture.

 

According to prof. Ulrich, great CPOs have the most traits needed for a great CEO. And I fully agree. But what we see today as a rare career track, only reserved for Chiefs of Finance, Sales or Operations, will be the best practice of tomorrow. This is, providing that as HR person one has the right business acumen, the right strategic leadership skills and a deep understanding of human behaviour.

 

You need business acumen in order to communicate with your strong and powerful colleagues. But this is just a minor part in managing stakeholders. Use this knowledge in understanding customers and adapt the internal leadership culture to better serve the value proposition you are offering to the market. Use this knowledge to transform HR KPI’s into input for your investors.

 

The tech sector provided organizations with plenty of disruptive innovation. Now, we have a series of great platforms online which can solve problems better and faster than we have ever thought. For example, you can post a research issue that your highly paid R&D Department didn’t manage to solve, online. At just one click away, you will find communities of researchers, retired researchers or even passionate professionals in all walks of life. They have some spare time, they can be passionate about your mission and they are willing to contribute as they contributed, let’s say, for Wikipedia. And you can have the same kind of platforms for branding, advertising and more others.

 

This is already here, but this will be “business as usual” in tomorrow’s world. More and more creative people act as independent contractors and this will increase until they reach a critical mass. They will have clarified their vision and mission in life, and then they will manage their personal branding, skills set and portfolios. They will not need a leader to create a vision for them; they will join the vision of one leader because their visions are congruent. They will be found in open communities or open market places, contributing to missions they believe in. They are globe trotters and they might be working from a beach or between two breastfeeding sessions in their maternal leave. And their ideas will be innovative, disruptive and will provide you with the much needed competitive advantage.

 

What will the new “organizations” have to do?

  • To reach this talent and to create the framework I was speaking about earlier on.
  • To know how to build these free and collaborative cultures.
  • To create the Uber of the workplace.

This is, of course, debatable. And I would be glad to exchange with you on the subject.

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