The Future of Work, Best of the Best Posts – Sept 15

This last week I did a webinar that focused on the future of training.  Which, for all intents and purposes, is the future of learning.

As if learning somehow changes.

But it does. How we learn today is different than we have in the past.

When my six-year-old son asks, “What is the fastest land animal,” we look it up.  It is a quick search and we find a documentary about Cheetahs.  Then we also find that there are other ways to measure speed.  In a relative way, the cheetah is beat by the Paratarsotomus macropalpis.

And when he enters the workforce, guess how he will learn.  It will be completely different than how I learned how to learn.

In fact, the way I learn has already changed.  This is one of the big changes we need to look at in the Future of Work.

This first guest article is about how learning should change by using social technologies.  I was speaking about this back in 2007, but it has not been recognized as widely as it should.

Think about how you learn and how it will change.

Read a few articles, watch the new videos I put out last week, and then have a great week!


Time to put social to work for enterprise learning

“Learning is where I see most benefits in social technology – it’s the best place to start and you have more benefits to gain.”


If you’re not part of the problem….

“If you’re not part of the problem, you can’t be part of the solution.”


Future Of Work: 5 Trends For CIOs

“To keep up with the changes that employees and businesses are experiencing, CIOs need to recognize five trends driving these changes, and plan accordingly to stay ahead of the curve.”


The Workplace Of The Future Is Still The Office

“We are only starting to understand what the future of work looks like. In my view, the imagined idea of entirely virtual organizations is similar to how we used to think of the future as full of flying cars and colonies in space. Reality is much more invested in hybrid in-office plus remote scenarios. Physical space is still a strong element of work that we need to keep track of, and understand better to learn how we truly collaborate.”

End the Celebration of Mediocrity

Everyone talks about how bad mediocrity is.  About how we shouldn’t tolerate it.  About how it is a cancer to your organization, let alone your life.

I agree with them all. I’ve even written about it before.

Although I’m with you, I don’t care any more.  Is it a cancer?  Can it destroy your company?  Can it wreak havoc on production?  Yes.

But still, I don’t care.

Because mediocrity is a symptom, not a cause.  It is a tell-tale sign that something else is wrong.

In a High-Fidelity company mediocrity doesn’t exist.  And that is why I don’t care.  Because if your company is set up correctly, it won’t be the problem that it is today.


There are some biological environments in which cancer cannot live.  And, if you do it right, mediocrity can’t live in yours.  There are two characteristics of why…

1) Accountability to everyone, not one person.  A team member can get away with fooling one person.  It’s easy.  And we see it all the time.  One person is the darling of the team (at least according to the manager) and the rest of the team can see right through the facade.  But when you are accountable to everyone around you, it is very difficult to get away with anything questionable.

2) Having a WHY.  If you know why you are working and it is your passion or at least something you are interested in, then mediocrity won’t exist.  If you are stuck in a job you can only tolerate, however, and governed by a boss and by rules that only seem to multiply, it is easy to let the mediocrity creep in.


But we must stop the current celebration of mediocrity.  You have seen awards given to people for just doing their job.  When that happens I think, “Ya, way to do your job and get paid for it.  Well done!” (laced with sarcasm)

There are times when I have received an official recognition for not only just doing my job, but for (what I considered) playing.  I learn so much by what I do that a certificate of achievement would pale in comparison to the satisfaction I received from the experience.

So, Step 1: Stop celebrating mediocrity.

Step 2: Create an environment where mediocrity can’t live.

Then, mediocrity won’t even matter.




The Future of Work, Best of the Best Posts – Sept 5

221868712_0216d8aecb_z Good Monday to you! Why is it a good Monday?  Because you have a chance to change the way you work for the better.  This is your Future of Work and there is no better time than at the beginning of the week to start it. So let’s get started. Throughout this week you have a choice – keep doing what you are doing, or change it up.

Choose #ChangeitUp.

It won’t be from a big overall plan right now.  It will be in the daily, deliberate practice of small things. These articles will help you get started.  Have an incredible week!

Start Small. Start Now – Simon Terry

If you have time to do, then you have time to experiment. Find one hypothesis to test in action. Repeat.

Labor Day – Rebels at Work

“The dignity of the worker is so often overlooked in today’s leadership discussions. Everything is about the leader setting the vision, but often the workers know better what’s going on and how to make things better.”

The Call to Adventure – On Doing What You Love – Luis Suarez

“And forget about everything else, because, regardless of what people may well tell you, it’s no longer worth your time, effort and energy to pursue those endeavours you may well not be truly passionate about.”

The Case For Intelligent Failure To Invent The Future - TechCrunch’s Vinod Khosla

I have experienced the power of doers, the chaotic and naïve world of optimistic entrepreneurs who just try things, admit mistakes, fail, learn, iterate, try again and find solutions – often out of necessity.

Articles in Change Management Tools – Emergent Journal’s Jesse Jacoby

A number of change management articles that will give you some inspiration and tools to help you make the change you foresee.

The Future of Work Change Matrix – A Tool for Real Change


“We need to work openly, with more transparency.”

We need to rethink how we work and make some fundamental shifts.”

I hear C-level executives say things like this all the time.   They peer into the future and recognize the need to move their workforce into a Future of Work mentality and practices.

Yet, when it comes down to implementation, the shifts are rarely as deep and meaningful as they intended.  It makes people like me clench our fists, raise them to the sky and shout with frustration, “Why, Oh Why?!” Of course I have to lock myself in my closet before I do something like that so I don’t look foolish.

And at the same time, I understand.  The CxOs want it one way, but things like politics, tradition, and other invisible forces get in the way or slow initiatives like this to a halt.  I get it. I’ve seen it.  I’ve lived it. I don’t like it, but it is reality.

I do believe, however, that if we understand the difference between what was intended and what is often delivered, we can try to shoot for the correct intervention and stay away from (and not settle for) one of a lower quality.  It took a lot of dissecting, but I think I found a way to explain the difference in a way that can motivate teams to shoot for the best, rather than settle for what is easiest (and thus, much less effective).

The Inspiration

In working with a client, I noticed that they were falling into this trap.  They were leaning toward checking off the box with lower level solutions.  It isn’t that they were not compitent (because they certainly were), it was just that all the forces that we all know so well were pressuring them to a lesser set of solutions.

I created this matrix to explain the difference between two levels of solutions.  And as I did, I realized that just about every company I start working with has initially fallen into this trap.  It is very easy to think that we are doing Transformational work when we are only doing Tranference work.

So, I share this will all in hopes that it will help you, too.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


On the X axis is “Supporting Structure.”  This encompasses technological, financial, moral, political, cultural elements of the overall structure that are there to support the action.

On the Y axis is “Purposes/Practices.”  Why is something being done?  What is that?  It is the purposes for which we are carrying out a certain action.  It is more than just how we are doing something, but also WHY we are doing it.  Different WHYs lead to different WHATs.

In the Status Quo Quadrant (bottom left) nothing changes.  It is the status quo.  This is the default and fall back position.  When things don’t go right, this is the refuge employees seek.  It is comfortable and familiar to them, even if it might be the wrong thing to do. Employees have a tendency to migrate to this position.  Unless certain fail safes are put in place, it will be human nature to revert to the old way of business.  Always be watchful for this slip. It is dangerous and often toxic to change initiatives.

The Impossible Quadrant (top left) actually doesn’t exist in practice, but it does in theory.  As an example, years ago I was asked to go take the company’s main process which produced 80% of the revenue and to find a much faster, slimmer alternative.  I worked for months with many people.  In the end I transformed a process that took 30 days and 20 handoffs, to 15 days and 6 handoffs.  The efficiencies gained were incredible.  There was one thing missing: a new support structure.  I was asked to create new working purposes and practices, but not given any support on the structure end of things to make any changes.

And guess what happened?  Nothing.  Not one thing changed.  I was incredibly disappointed.  It was talked up as a huge win for the company, yet because it didn’t have supporting structure to make the changes, nothing happened.  It died.

As the years rolled on pieces were picked up and implemented. I am sure it wasn’t pointing back to the work I had done, but rather they had to come to the same conclusion I had already come to and implemented it bit by bit.

A new way of working with new purposes without the supporting structure will never actually happen.  Rather, they will fall back into the Status Quo Quadrant.

I know of another person who wanted to create a Enterprise Social Network for her company.  She wasn’t given a budget or a team (and, obviously, no support), but the OK to press forward.  And you know what?  She did it!  Three years later it was decommissioned because the supporting structure was not there.  It died a sad death.

The Transference Quadrant (bottom right) is where many companies land because they don’t have what it takes to go to the top right.  Rather than going for a big win, they go for the mediocre win.  The win that is far less difficult and thus far less effective.  It looks like there was a big change, but all they did was take the same purpose and move it to another place.

Instead of holding in-person meetings, a company might move their meetings to a virtual space to allow many more people to join.  This is the same purpose moved to a new location (physical to virtual).  This change can be very beneficial.  So, it must be noted that the Transference Quadrant in and of itself is not an evil quadrant.  Sometimes this is all that needs to happen.  In this case, a move of location is a big win and can save a company a lot of money and time lost.

The danger here is shooting for the Tranformational Quadrant but only ending up in this quadrant.  It can be deceiving.  Too often, the Tranference Quadrant becomes a checkbox.  “The CEO said to make a change, so we did,” but nothing really changed.  Sure there is some change, but it was not to the extent intended.

The Transformance Quadrant is where the Future of Work lives: New purposes with a new supporting structure.

This is where the money is!  (Not literally, but literally – you know what I mean?!) The change that everyone talks about takes a new supporting structure which, in many times, is radically different than the Status Quo.  It also looks at new ways and purposes of working.  The end goal (deliver what the customer wants) may be the same, but how we get there is very different.

And the Tranformational Quadrant lives on difference characteristics (part of the Supporting Structure).  It doesn’t play by the same rules.

I worked with one team where their main process was closed, secretive and guarded.  Needless to say, it took a long time and a lot of people to manage the process.  When we revamped it using the principles of transparency and trust we found that not as many people needed to be involved in the process and the process took less time.  Their end purpose didn’t change, but their work purposes did.  They wanted to be more transparent.

As a result they saved not only time in the process, but over $100,000 a year in lower process costs.  And that was just one relatively small process!


When shooting for the Tranformational Quadrant, it is easy for many to become weak in their resolve to make a real change. They realize that it might take going out on a limb and risking some credibility or political clout. I have seen some not make the change because they thought their budget would be lowered, even though the overall net gain would have dwarfed the budget loss!

There is a pull the the familiar, to the less risky.  And that pull is down to either the Tranference Quadrant or back to the Status Quo.


When evaluating your next big move, decide which it needs to be: Tranference or Tranformational.  If it is Tranformational, make sure you identify new work purposes & characteristics and the new supporting structure to support you.  In fact, make sure everyone on the team understands the characteristics of that quadrant so they know what to shoot for.  And then don’t give up.

This is another element in the recipe for the Transformational Quadrant: Boldness.  You will be often times going against work traditions your company holds as sacred.  If it is the right thing to do, press forward.  The spice of boldness is invaluable and required.

The Future of Work, Best of the Best Posts – Sept 2


Summer is officially over. Not by geopositioning terms, but by cultural terms.  Labor Day has come and gone and now it is time to get back to work.

Time to put on your game face.

Each week on the first day of the work week I will be posting articles that were posted the week before on the Future of Work. Ones that will help jump start a new week of work.

Ones that will give you hope throughout the week.  Ones that will make you think and help take you into your Future of Work.

Think of them as a jumpstart to your week.  To get you started on the right foot, in the right frame of mind.  COME WHAT MAY!  You will be ready.

Bring it on.

You Can’t Put a Price on Epiphanies

“Because you can’t put a price on epiphanies. Or a mindset change. Or the increased excitement, confidence and enthusiasm I developed after working with Change Agents Worldwide (CAWW) for a week.”

How a Manager can Promote the ‘Future of Work’

“It’s not just technology or creative industries that are embracing the new way to work. These new modalities are the future for finance, health care, automotive, manufacturing and any number of industries. This is a revolution to maximize an individual’s productivity through the right technology, so individuals feel more empowered in their own careers and improve the productivity of the company.”

What Do Employees Think About the Future of Work?

An infographic on the Future of Work 80% of employees feel the future of work will be worse than it is today?  Wow.

Change Manager Contract

Responsibilities include “the rolling out of a new operating model and organisation structure.”  Sounds like a great opportunity for someone to really make a difference!

How to Intentionally Build Your Company Culture (Rather Than Leave It to Chance)

Ninety percent of leaders realize the importance of an employee-engagement strategy, but only 25 percent actually have one. If you’re one of those leaders without a plan, here’s how to get one.”

“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”


From Guy Kawasaki’s G+ Post. Click to see original.


These words are from General George Patton.

And I love them.

Lead me to a new way of working.  For the current way is draining me.  And I refused to be drained any more.  There is a better way and I plan to follow you there.  But if you don’t lead me…

Follow me.  Because I intend to get there and take everyone that I can with me.  Why? Because it energizes me. And the more that can follow me there, the better.  The Law of Scarcity does not apply where I am going.  There is enough for everyone.

To those that will follow: be warned.  The road will not be easy.  It will be risky.  We don’t know the exact path to take.  We are forging a new trail.  We may go down one route and learn that it leads to a cliff.  Then we will turn around, retrace some steps and find another way.  It will be tiresome.  Exhausting mentally, physically, politically. But it will be the ride of your life.  And when we have created this new place it will be exhilarating.

And to those who will try to stop us – you know who you are.  To those who will say that we are crazy for trying something new.  That we can never change the way we work.  That the Future of Work is a pipe dream.  That we are spending our energies chasing something too big to tackle.

To them I say, I’m sad for you.  You have given in. You have been sucked in to believe that there won’t be a better way in our lifetime.  But there will be.  And I intend to get there.

I have no doubt that what we are creating is monumental.  It will make all the difference in your working life.  In your real life.  And if not in yours, than I am doing this for your children.

So, walk with me.  And if you can’t walk where I will walk,

Get out of my way.



Amazon Nails the Future of Work Paradox

Photo by goXunuReviews on

From time to time I receive emails from Amazon as I am an eBook author and have published through them (here and here).

The latest email was a gem and one that is worthy to share.

In the future of work – whether it be with ESNs, innovating management or any number of ways to upgrade our work – there are always those who fight for the status quo.  (Yes, they still exist.)  They fight so hard, in fact, that their logic seems, well, as if you can’t call it logic.  It is shortsighted and driven by fear.

The below email gives an example of this to prove its point about the need to lower ebook prices.  It cites proof and logic.

More than that, however, it give an example of the paradox we see: “We want to move forward working the way we always have.”  No one comes out and says that, but that is essentially what they are saying.

The corollary to that is, “If we change it will hurt us. Therefore, keep the steady course and we will grow.”  Once again, fear.

There are number of examples that you can use when talking to others about the future of work and how we need to change the way we work, manage our companies, and collectively operate.

I know it is long, but it is worth it.  This is one to archive.

Well done, Amazon.


Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch:

Copy us at:

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.

- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.

- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.

- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at

Are You a Cog?

What is a COG?  COG is short for the term “Corporate Cog”

…an employee who is obedient, diligent, comes to work every day, on time and works for the money. They may have gone to school for their job and even received advanced degrees, but they don’t really enjoy what they are doing.  But they don’t hate it either.  It is just a job.

When their alarm goes off in the morning, they groan and have a hard time getting out of bed.

A COG can be at any level in the organization, from the CEO to the base employee.  They will usually do just about anything to keep the job – the job they really don’t care for.

They are often beat up at work and instead of fighting back, they take it.  They don’t rock the boat because they don’t want to be the next former employee.

Their WHY for working is to get a paycheck. They often go home exhausted, only to return the next day to do it again.


On the other hand, the DECOGGED employee is the opposite.  Yes, they are diligent in their job, but they also are creative, ingenious, and innovative. Their paycheck is a side benefit because they LOVE what they do.

When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, they are excited about what they get to do that day.

I have seen DECOGGED janitors, admin assistants as well as CEOs.  As with a COG, the DECOGGED person can be at any level.  They don’t have a problem rocking the boat because they know that thier job is a means to an end, not the end itself.

They understand WHY they are working, and it usually is not for the money, but for a higher purpose.  And it is not unusual to go home more excited and energetic than when they came because what they are working on they thoroughly love.

So, which are you?  Are you a COG or have you DECOGGED yourself?

If you have any symptoms of a COG, keep watching these videos to learn how to decog yourself.

Humanize Work: The Ninth Day (VIDEO)

It truly is a new day.

One where the old management model is breaking down and being replaced by a new model.  One that is much more flexible and agile.

But to achieve this, we need to Humanize Work.  We can’t keep working the same way we always have and think that we will be able to keep up.  Employee engagement is at an all time low. Traditional companies are throwing traditional solutions at the problem and coming up with traditional outcomes: not much.

Our organizational problems are new.  And they require new approaches.  The old methods will land us right back where we are sitting, which is exactly where we don’t want to be.

But under the bleak assessment of a current state is a bright future.  There is more in front of us than there is behind us.

And, personally, I can’t wait to see what is in store.

This video is a call-to-arms for those who are on the fence; for those who are wondering if they should take their company with them  on a leap of faith.

Not only can it be done, but it must be done to thrive.


And on the eighth day, the industrial age looked over its creations and said, “I need people to help me.” So it created the employee.

It said, ‘I need someone to arrive at the office early, keep track of money, answer the phone, field floods of emails, serve the customer, attend the boring meetings, and call me boss.”

So it created the employee.

This machine age said, “I need someone to give up evenings and weekends with the family at the last minute in favor of and stay up late to work on a PowerPoint presentation, only to have it scrapped for a new direction. Someone who will then temper his frustration, go to sleep, and show up early to work the next morning ready to take on the next challenge. Someone who will say, ‘Maybe next time’ and then keep working.

“I need someone who will be available on their cell phone at any moment, spend hours writing reports that no one will read, exhaust themselves until late in the night and be willing to return the next day, on time, to do it again, and never think about WHY they are working. Someone who will keep their opinions to themselves, will take direction and be obedient and diligent and too afraid to talk to management for fear that they may lose their job.”

So the the industrial revolution created the employee.

And at the end of the eighth day the machine age grew old, tired, and it died.

On the morning of the ninth day, a new economy was born. And it said, “The employee has been stripped of being human. To move forward we need to Humanize Work again.”

“What we really need is a group of connected individuals who are bold enough to stand up to the status quo yet not be toxic. Inspiring, but not autocratic. We need a group who is willing learn every day, to be disruptive when necessary, and work transparently. Who want to work because they love what they do, not just because they need a paycheck. Who will give trust as a default, not as an earned bonus. Those who will disrupt, rather than be disrupted.”

The new economy said, “We need people who will keep politics and policies to a minimum so bureaucracy and pride won’t get in the way of doing what is right. Those who will shed our old management model in favor of an environment of true collaboration and full engagement. For one that is flexible and agile – where innovation is not only in its outputs, but also in its operations. We need those who will create an environment that will allow for both diversity and unity; standardization and disruption; success and failure. We need those willing to pour their whole selves into their passion and to humanize work again.”

And on the ninth day, the organization was transformed.

This is your ninth day.

Humanize Work

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