In her comment to Interrogating Reality, Terri Waterman of Surreal Concepts writes: "Observing is truly the best way of dealing with life as a whole. We all have the innate ability to flow with whatever we are faced with in every moment."
When I think about a business and how it works, I think about the big picture. In my observations of the daily activities of corporate America, I see not only the various roles that each discipline and department has, I see the whole system, whether that exists formally or not. That's why I have a hard time understanding why it is so difficult sometimes to work together.
If a person, any person, in my organization needs support, I connect them with resources or someone who can help them and learn alongside. I do that because I see value in pulling all resources together to answer the business needs of a company and, most importantly to serve our customers in the best possible ways, with everything we have across the organization.
"For every day we spend with the company it must get easier to do great work, make ourselves better, and make the world a better place." Those were Bill Jensen's words in Work 2.0, a book that might have preceded some of the conversations we're still having. It was published in 2002, it seems like ages ago, yet it still applies today.
"In a Work 2.0 world, the future of business success is tied to every individual’s success. We win together, or not at all." Jensen contends that a shift occurred from managing how people get work done to understanding how they do it. I looked at my notes from our conversation with Bill and they feel as fresh today as they were in August 2002.
The book was meant to rewrite the contract of work, did it do that? Did we do that? I'll leave that question for you to pick up and grapple with.
Some of Bill's thoughts revolved around asset revolution, or a new way of thinking; my work, my way, which is about work that is customized, tailored, and personalized to each individual; peer-to-peer value; and extreme leadership where R-E-S-P-E-C-T includes better use of the assets the workforce brings with them.
What this may still mean to us:
- Am I ready to compete with the best of the best? I must say that in corporate America there is still a great deal of baggage from the past. It is not yet a foregone conclusion that if you work smart on your good ideas you will write your own ticket. You need to become a better business person in a big picture-thinking way: a champion of your idea who is formidable in execution. In not so many words, marketing and selling your idea and strong implementation are a greater part of your work today.
- Am I ready to be 100% accountable for my decisions? Absolutely, finally, hand me the button. When can I decide? Do we really think this way at work? Some part of us may still experience a residual of the days in which everything could be blamed on management. How much risk are we ready to take on? There are ways to take those risks in organizations, ways to fail and improve on an idea faster so you can beat the competition. Ultimately you are in charge of deciding if you're going to do it. That's what I mean by being accountable.
- What are my skills? I think we've come a long way on personal branding. Those of you who have blogs know all about that. Most of the professionals I have conversations with in the blogosphere started using this medium for personal branding and, like me, learned that thinking together can indeed broaden not only their reach, it can also expand and hone their skill.
- What are my weaknesses? We're all quite supportive of each other's learning curve, aren't we? I am very thankful that you are of mine; I can learn faster that way. Who wants to wait these days? Waiting and not learning can blindside us out there, and that can be quite risky. What kind of activities can allow us to test concepts and campaigns in the markeplace to create better feedback loops?
- How long do I invest my assets in a company before I can expect a return? As Bill acknowledges, this is one tough question. I've come to believe that there isn't time to hang in there just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit longer at work. One thing is for sure, the decision on when to stay and when to bail out has just become more complex. If we apply this to the customer conversation, how long should people invest in attention and time before bailing out? Are we making their stay valuable?
- How diverse-savvy am I, really? Do we respect and trust people of all shoe sizes, lifestyles, and flavors? Are we having this conversation about relationships in an open and fair way? Long after the sizzle and enthusiasm of a work contract have worn off, do we discover we really meant that diverse-thinking was good?
- What is my vision for my work life? Imagine waking up every day to a blank canvas. What do you want in your portable portfolio? Your vision of yourself must guide more and more of your decisions. "Work 2.0 will not eliminate office politics, lousy bosses, or great opportunities that aren't best for you," writes Bill. It means you are more in charge of your vision and how it translates in the marketplace. That's why now, more than ever, you will need a clear inner voice to guide you.
Terri is quite right: it is a high touch world where observation of self at work has become more important to success along with our ability to adapt with what comes our way.
[image of the world of Jeff Han from Fast Company 112]