Work Design

Let’s Talk About Tomorrow

February 6, 2017

I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years investigating the future of work and doing my best to interpret it for you – especially the “So What?” questions that breakthroughs inevitably produce.

But I have also pointed out on many occasions that, obviously, the future doesn’t exist – yet.

We, together, create the future, one day, or one moment, at a time. The actions we take, the assumptions we hold, and the expectations we create about Tomorrow all add up to new experiences that become The Present and then The Past.

I like to talk about “premembering” the future in the sense that the more we can anticipate what might happen, the better prepared we can be for whatever does happen. Besides “So What?” the most important question we can ask is “What if?” [click to continue…]

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Disappearing Work - StuckyIn October my monthly Talking About Tomorrow membership program (“TAT”) featured former IBM researcher and current Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University – and Very Smart Person – Susan Stucky, who led the group in an important conversation about “disappearing work.”

But Susan wasn’t talking just about all the jobs that are being automated out of existence. She is of course highly aware of, and deeply concerned about, automation, but she asked the TAT participants to focus on another, often unseen, side of the emerging digital economy.

She opened with this statement by economist W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, from a 2011 thought piece in McKinsey Quarterly:

Digitization is creating a second economy that’s vast, automatic, and invisible—thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

(from “The Second Economy,” October 2011) [click to continue…]

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Telescope_to_Right2016 is coming to a close; this is the time of year when most organizations and their leaders focus their energy and attention on the future. It’s a time for visioning, strategic planning, goal-setting, and sorting out how tomorrow will be different from today.

But how many times have you completed a strategic planning exercise, or a visioning effort, with high energy, high hopes, and exuberant optimism that the effort will finally – finally! – produce meaningful change, only to see everything evaporate in the face of organizational resistance and/or apathy?

Pushing a rock uphillAchieving lasting and meaningful change in large organizations often feels impossible. It’s like Sisyphus rolling that boulder up the mountain, only to see it cascading back down to the valley, and having to start pushing it uphill all over again – and again, and again.

One of the best ways I know to avoid that kind of frustration and stagnation is a Future Search Conference.

 

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Women Hand writing ROI Return on Investment

Over the last several weeks I have been exploring several basic ways to improve your organizational ROI for meetings.

Last week I talked about two complementary approaches to improving meeting efficiency:

  1. Holding fewer meetings
  2. Conducting shorter meetings

(See “The Business Case for Making Your Meetings Matter (Part 3)” for details).

Today I am focusing on how distributed meetings can reduce costs in dramatic ways. I then conclude by proposing an integrated, three-phase approach for jacking up that ROI.

Reducing Costs: Let Me Count the Ways

There are many kinds of savings that come from greater use of distributed meetings. Note that some of these benefits accrue to organizations, some to individuals, and some to society more broadly. [click to continue…]

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return on investmentOver the last two weeks, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” and “The Business Case for Making Your Meetings Matter (Part Two),” I have been sharing several basic ideas for improving your organizational ROI for meetings.

Clearly, the only thing that ultimately matters about any meeting is the quality of the decisions made or the ideas developed during the meeting. However, even if a particular meeting doesn’t produce all the desired outcomes, there can still be value from the conversation:

Even if on the surface the group failed to complete its task, it is worth remembering that the participants may have forged new relationships, learned important facts about the issue or each other, or generated new ideas that will eventually produce even more meaningful results. (from Chapter 8, page 193, Making Meetings Matter)

Reducing Costs

Today I want to focus on reducing the cost of your meetings. [click to continue…]

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covermeetingAre you frustrated by all the time you waste in lousy, boring, unproductive meetings? Are you ready to do something about it?

Last week, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” I described the only two ways you can enhance meeting productivity:

  • Improving outcomes – better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs – fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings; leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

It really is that simple. Now it’s time to dig into those two objectives to identify specific tactics you can embrace right now to improve your ROI on meetings. We’ll focus today on Improving Outcomes, and devote next week’s post to Reducing Costs (although it’s actually artificial to separate these two strategies, as they usually go hand-in-hand). [click to continue…]

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change-management meetingI’ve been studying and writing about organizational meetings for years. And I’ve offered lots of tips, techniques, and “rules” for making your meetings matter – to the organization, to your staff, and to yourself (see my new website, www.makingmeetingsmatter.com, for details about my new book and associated service offerings; and scan my past blog posts for loads of ideas and recommendations).

But I haven’t spent enough time discussing why making meetings matter is so important. In other words, what is the business case for changing the way you design and lead meetings?

To do that we have to look at the two dimensions of effectiveness:

  • Improving outcomes:  better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings, leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

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Diverse Business People in a Meeting

Last week’s article/blog post, “Why Collaborative Leadership is Central to the Future of Work,” generated more attention and commentary than I have experienced in some time. I encourage you to reread the article and in particular to take a look at the online comments from Robert Buss and Bob Leek (below the article).

The article also led to an extended conversation with Steven Beary, a corporate real estate strategist and Principal/CFO at The Beary Group, whose insights I have always found enlightening.

Steven told me several directly relevant and highly compelling stories about his experiences with collaborative cultures that I want to pass on. His basic message: there’s one surefire way to build an organizational culture that values and practices meaningful collaboration: [click to continue…]

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leadership with a magnifier on top

There is lots of attention being paid these days to ethnic and religious differences, to income inequality, to generational differences, and to social and cultural polarization.

Recently I have been thinking a great deal about millennials as representatives of a vague but vastly transformed future. Many observers and pundits find that future exciting and encouraging, while others find it depressing.

No matter what you think about that future, by 2020 (just four years from now!) close to half of the workforce will be what we currently call “Millennials” – people born between about 1982 and 2004. [click to continue…]

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covermeetingRecently I’ve been offering tips and techniques for making meetings more productive – and more popular. A few weeks ago I listed 10 tips for meeting leaders (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”), and then on May 30 I shared a reaction to that first article that was largely inspired by Bob Leek of Multnomah County, Oregon (“Making Meetings Matter: Distributed Leadership”).

Those ideas, in turn, sparked a comment and a question from Steven Beary, Principal and CFO of The Beary Group. Steven observed that Bob’s suggestion to “call for adjournment” if a meeting isn’t going well relies on Roberts Rules of Order, which is a common source of principles for leading public-sector meetings. As Steven pointed out, in most private-sector organizations that kind of pushing back or “taking over” a meeting could well be seen as insubordination, and in any case could easily become a “career-limiting move.”

Steven then asked the following question: [click to continue…]

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