TEDx talk on the Future of Work: your help requested
Please would you help me with three things.
Firstly, if you can attend or know of someone who would enjoy the day, please encourage them to buy a ticket and come along next Saturday. It’s going to be a great day.
Secondly, I need to settle on a title for the talk. You can see an outline below, and I’d really value your suggestions for an appropriate title. I am talking about how we are about to embark on the third wave of the digital revolution, which will involve revolutionising our workplace practices. I will outline five major shifts that need to take place in the next decade that each have the ‘power to make a difference’ in the future of work.
My current thinking (updated on 17 October) is along the lines of “The third wave of the digital age: Five sparks to ignite a work revolution”.
Thirdly, can you review the overview of my presentation and provide feedback and input. I’d like your feedback on the general flow of the content, and then input into the workplace implications you think I should be highlighting.
TEDxSquareMile: Future of Work, Power to Make a Difference talk overview
A third wave of change is just beginning in the digital age. This is being driven as much by the relentless march of history and the insatiable demands of commerce as it is by the hunger in the human soul for meaning and purpose. This third wave will bring more change, more disruption and create more value than we imagine.
About a hundred years ago, a year or so before he died, Frederick Taylor introduced his The Principles of Scientific Management paper to the American mechanical engineering society. Credited as being the father of so-called ‘scientific management’ Taylor had spent most of his life leading the third wave of the Industrial Revolution. Today, it is our responsibility to kick start a third wave in the digital revolution and usher in a whole new way of working.
Let me explain.
The first wave of the Industrial Revolution involved the invention of the machines that became the symbol of the age: great, steam driven, coal and oil powered engines that brought speed and power to the world. The second wave followed quickly, as these engines were reconfigured, tweaked and customised for different applications in different industries and areas of life. Spinning jennies and power looms in the textile industry; telegraphs and telephones in the communications industry; motor cars and airplanes in transportation; and the steam driving printing press in publishing, are just a few examples.
The third wave of the Revolution came from management theorists. As factories and machines proliferated, it became clear that changes in how people were organised, managed, measured and rewarded could have dramatic effects on their productivity and outputs. Business leaders embraced these new management theories, reorganised their workplaces and reaped the rewards. The most iconic of these was Henry Ford and his Model T Ford continuous production line. He had invented neither the technology in the cars, nor the production line that churned them out. But he bundled them together with the latest management thinking and the rest, as they say, is history.
Most of the last century was very kind to Ford and companies like it. But the last two decades, not so much.
And one of the reasons is that, a century later, we face the same situation again. The first wave of the digital revolution was about the machines that would change our world: computers, PC’s, the Internet, smartphones. That’s been progressing at a breath taking pace. The second wave is about applying those new digital technologies and computing power to every industry and function. This too is happening at pace all around the world. Google are making driverless cars and augmented reality glasses, Apple dominate the music industry, Amazon have redefined retail and distribution, 3-d printing will shake up the manufacturing world, small start ups are disrupting education, pharmaceuticals, mining, entertainment and every other industry you can imagine. But this is just the second wave.
The third wave is the one that generates the most value and brings the most change to the world. And it is only just beginning. The third wave of the digital age will be a revolution in management brought about the technologies of the first two waves.
The third wave is not just about doing what we used to do, but doing it better, faster and cheaper. It is about doing things we haven’t been able to do before. Take Google’s driverless cars as an example of this. — brief story; legal in California now –. These cars will not only soon be legal in your cities, I am certain that by the end of the next decade they will be compulsory too. The reason is that they will reduce accidents and increase traffic efficiency, because they are able to speak to each other. They don’t just allow cars to be driven better and faster, they allow cars to be driven in entirely new ways, and for a whole intelligent system of cars to work together for a better solution for everyone.
That’s the promise of the next decade or so in the future of work: that we find ways to innovate our workplaces, using the technology, the interconnectedness of the world, using our ability to gather vast amount of data and process it in real time, and our understanding of the world, the workplace and the workforce, we need to change the way we work. This will be good for business, just as it was a hundred years ago. It will be good for society and for us as individuals as well.
I don’t have the answers, but I do think I have the questions. There are at least five categories of change we need to focus our attention in the next few years….
At this point in the presentation, I want to go on to talk about five revolutionary issues we need to deal with. This is where I need your help. What would you talk about here? What do you think are the key issues that we need to deal with in the world of work right now?
Let me give you some insight into the type of thing I have in mind. My first item is the following:
The first question we need to face is the issue of remuneration. Right now, most people get paid for turning up. They’re measured on their inputs, mainly on time spent. We need to find ways to measure and reward people for their contributions, regardless of how long they take to make that contribution. This revolution has had a false start in the CEO’s office. In the past ten years, CEO pay has sky rocketed. In 1975, the average big company CEO in the USA earned about 21 times the average worker in their company. By 1995, this number had jumped to 90 times the average worker. Today, the average CEO earns 231 times the average worker. This is down from 411 times at it’s peak just before the recession, by the way. (I’ll show this chart here). The reason CEO’s can charge so much? Because they contribute so much. Or at least, that’s their logic. So, why not apply that logic to everyone. If CEOs believe we can measure and accurately reward them for their contributions, why not apply that logic throughout the organisation? CEOs have sort-of proved this can be done. It must now just be done for everyone. The first big issue we face then is how to measure and reward everyone for their contributions.
This will lead directly to the second big issue, and that has to do with the where we work.
I’ll then talk about virtual working, working from home, flexibility and “work-life integration”.
But, now, what three other issues do you think I should focus the spotlight on? What revolutions do you think are waiting to happen?
And what should I call this presentation?
Thanks, in advance, for your help.