As the pace of change in the business world grows exponentially more dynamic with every new development, it grows more challenging and more rewarding to stay on the cutting edge of “new.” Leaders adapt their workforces to be more responsive to changes, to best integrate new technologies and respond to evolving market dynamics – it’s why there has always been a premium put on innovation.
As the speed of business and our collective intelligence increases, achieving breakthrough innovation is less about developing new answers and more about changing your questions. This is the main idea behind my new book entitled Questioneering.
In the United States and around the world, thought leaders, influencers, and pundits can barely contain their enthusiasm and curiosity surrounding the workplace of the future: What will it look like? What cities will it be in? What gadgets will workers be able to use to connect with each other, with their managers and teams, and with their clients?
However, asking about the “workplace of the future” reflects a lower-value question that may cause you to miss your intended target —that is, how to discover the thing we really want to know. It’s not as though the “workplace” is a transcendent element that defines and shapes itself; instead, it’s created, inhabited, and managed by the people who use it: the workforce.
So, if we want to understand the future of workplace dynamics in 2, 5, and 10 years, we can’t settle for making predictions about how fast computers will have become or what new buzz words will be in vogue: the most essential information for us to know is what will the workforce look like – who or what will be working, from where, and in what capacities?
In leading several Questioneering discussions focused on this high-value question centered on the workforce of the future, I’ve created a model of the types of workforce players who will shape workplace dynamics in the future.
Workforce Players Types of the Future:
Full-Time Contributors, who make up the archetypical workforce, still have their place. These contributors will be dedicated to one company, often in management roles, where they leverage their depth of experience in that company to the advantage of that business.
Shared Contributors will be dedicated to two or three companies. They’ll be proficient in a certain skill set that requires long-term implementation to be effective, which means that while they don’t need to be dedicated to a particular company full-time, their employers have an interest in keeping them close to home.
Full-Time Freelancers have a deeply developed skill that can be broadly applied, focusing on that skill rather than a particular organization to which it might be dedicated.
The Crowd is one of the more revolutionary elements of the future workforce, made possible by remote collaboration, in which freelancers work part-time when projects pique their interest as leaders leverage and tap into the wisdom of the crowd.
Machines will naturally have their role to play in the future workforce, in the form of robots that can complete automated tasks.
Artificially Intelligent Beings like Watson and Alexa, which have the ability to learn and develop to address the increasing complexity of big data and its implications.
These various players, and the way they interact, provide a great deal more insight into whatever shape the future workplace might take than prognostications about the impact of new technologies isolated from their users. As you reflect on these workforce players, what will diversity, inclusion, promotion, productivity, and/or recruitment feel like in a world made up of people, machines, and artificial intelligence.
Viewing the future of the workforce through the lens of a high-value question is a powerful predictive tool, and is at the very essence of the application of Questioneering. I challenge you to reconsider the questions you are asking of your business, employees and of yourself, as you take your office technology dealership into the future.
5 Observations of Today's Business Environment (Tawnya Stone from GreatAmerica adapts Joseph Bradley's observations to the office technology industry) : https://www.greatamerica.com/blog/office-equipment-blog/not-the-same-day-definitely-not-the-same-conversation.aspx
Three Tips to Increase Your Success Rates for Hiring Rock Stars, by Denise Miller of PathShare HR Services: https://www.greatamerica.com/blog/office-equipment-blog/3-tips-for-hiring-rock-stars-in-the-new-year.aspx
Traits of an Innovation Leader, Part I (a guest blog by Bob Eckert):
Traits of an Innovation Leader, Part II (a guest blog by Bob Eckert):
< Back to Blog List