Maybe I’m not that dialed in, but clicking through Rick’s post and into “A Unique Generation,” I bumped into KV’s comment and feel my shaking my head – huh uh – wrong focus, gang. I’ve worked across several companies and cultures in my career, and would be among those to call KV “crazy.”
What stirs me is that KV’s predictions for the work world of 20 years into the future already feel dated, if not recycled from (gasp!) past generations. Maybe I’m jaded? Your call:
- Everyone will have multitude of roles instead of one. Each one different: addressing individual needs or passion. A person [m]ight have four, 2-3 hour jobs. They could work as a software architect, a graphic designer a construction worker, and a middle school teacher, all in the same day.
- We will all work remotely instead of having desk jobs, since wireless will be the standard. You still might meet with a group on a regular basis, but it might be at conference rooms at Starbucks, or at a park.
- Instead of having a job, we will all work on a contract/consultant basis. No work, no pay. No performance, no bonus. Everyone will work for everyone based on the need. Social structures will play a much bigger role in how one finds work.
- Salary/Pay information will be much more accessible which will cause pay scales to become more uniform and more correlated to demand and supply, than the current sy[s]tems which lacks full information and can be different between organizations, societies, cultures, etc.
- Though corporations will exist, they will be shell entities solely for the purpose of defining the goal and getting people together, but not for managing them.
We Gen-Xers were inspired by words based in the go-go 80s wealth accumulation, instead of the 90s mid-life reflections. Maybe we had something to rebel against, because we were getting messages like “you’ll earn less than your parents” or “jobs security as you’ve observed it will no longer exist.” But I think Gen-X came of age during a time of major transformation, and this doesn’t occur without leaving some powerful, lasting lessons learned.
When I think about the future (colored by my own experience with 10+ years of work experience), I recognize that my views are shaped more by thinkers (Alvin Tofler, Tom Peters, Harry Beckwith, Jim Collins, Dan Pink) than by the technology that will support the next wave. My view of the “Future of Work” isn’t as much about discovering a newly enabled world, as adopting some familiar models (most notably, the flexible expert model used in film production).
My contrary bullets to KV’s above, in looking out the next 20 years:
- Some people will get very deep and expert at what they do, increasing numbers will be doing very mundane tasks in low paying service businesses, and the era of “generalist” will slowly disappear. Increased transparency means that we now better appreciate the magic of the specialist – the surgeon, the deal maker, the highly paid specialists. Michael Jordan was a great example of specialist – highly paid for basketball, not so much for his baseball and golf endeavors. Increasing your value will mean narrowing your focus and offering services to a wider range of “buyers” of your services.
- Wired or not, face time is critical to building organizations. Powerful organizations leverage adaptability and time to market, regardless of where the resources are sitting. In large organizations, leading, influencing, inspiring requires more than just dialing in or a weekly chat over coffee. Delivery is not enough, you have to really tune and deliver to do big things.
- Though the population of successful independent consultants will increase, the vast majority of persons will remain in corporate roles in percentages similar to today’s breakout between employed and employer. The risks are too great for the vast majority to stomach. Few people get that continuous learning and development are the only real security left. In whatever form “security” takes, the vast majority of the population today and 20 years from now will continue to equate security and stability with corporate size instead of adaptability and relevancy of skills.
- Expect to see greater breadth in the pay scale as individual brands become more pronounced – inside and outside corporations. Flat pay rates exist in commodity markets, assuming the same quality of work, timely delivery, and customer service. But I think these assumptions presume too much. Your brand value will say more about your worth in the future than your job title does today.
- Future corporations will place greater emphasis on managing the organization of resources toward achieving results, rather than simply identifying goals and building departments. With adjectives like “agile”, “adaptable”, “flexible”, “scalable”, and “fast” coming to mind, I expect the new generation of companies to rely more heavily on who they know and not just who they employ. Why hire deep indefinitely when the need is for 6 months? Much like a production studio, deep talent will be kept on retainer for potential work, brought together as necessary to deliver the results, and then disassembled after the goals have been achieved.
Thanks for the inspiration KV.