What the 21st century needs

In 1943, the Chairman of IBM, Thomas Watson said, ‘I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers.’

Thomas Watson was wrong. He wouldn’t recognize the world as it is today. Trade liberalization, globalization, advances in technology, the power of the Web, the rise of Asian competitors and more – the world has fundamentally changed since 1943. The strange thing is that the way in which we work has not kept pace. We generally still work in outdated traditional, hierarchical management structures that were designed for the mass-producing, industrialized 19th/20th century and not the flat, hyper-connected 21st one.

But things are starting to change. We have reached the point where, unless we embrace a new world of work, business will not reap the competitive advantage, significant financial rewards and efficiency that management, employees, suppliers, customers and shareholders desire.


In the 21st century, people matter. Traditional companies were designed to get the most out of people. It is now a business imperative to structure your organization is such a way that you get the best out of your people. Competitive advantage no longer only comes from people’s hands; it now comes from their minds. In order to maximize business success, you must understand and respond to three things –

1. World events, societal trends and internet advancements which are demanding a new way of working
2. Inevitabilities and realities of the new world of work and
3. What makes your greatest asset – your people – tick.

It is essential that you first understand why and how the world is changing so you can then devise what effective steps you can take to strengthen the bottom line and get the best out of your people.

The new world of work requires new insight and techniques for:

• Managing a multigenerational work force
• Leading with a global mindset
• Connecting with customers
• Embracing diversity
• Leadership
• Women at work
• Attracting, recruiting, engaging and retaining talent
• Business resilience
• Sustainability
• Communication

Henry Ford was the father of mass production and the 20th century organizational model that arose to support it. Taylorism was the dominant management mindset. It still prevails. The 21st century demands a new model and a new way of solving business and leadership issues. If you want to stand out in the business world – both personally and as an organization – you have to think and work differently. It is the only way you, and your company, will survive and thrive in the future.

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