Is Google an indication of the how organizations will manage in the 21st century?
Experienced managers who join Google from other companies can find it difficult to operate in a culture where power over subordinates is derived from one’s ideas and powers of persuasion, not job titles, says May. Decisions on promotions and raises are often made by consensus among peers and superiors. An employee isn’t necessarily going to obey a manager just because he or she is a manager. This is radically different from most traditional corporations, which have a top-down, hierarchical style of management. —eLearning
This sounds like a wirearchy, “a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology.”
Perhaps we are seeing the future of work appear on the edges of the economy, as Google is definitely a new economy company. Freedom (democracy) seems to be a requirement for success in the network era, as Jason Fried writes about an experiment to let employees decide what they do for a month at 37Signals.
How can we afford to put our business on hold for a month to “mess around” with new ideas? How can we afford not to? We would never have had such a burst of creative energy had we stuck to business as usual.
Bottom line: If you can’t spare some time to give your employees the chance to wow you, you’ll never get the best from them.
John Hagel shows that standardized work is obsolete.
Now, think about this. If we reduce work to highly specified and standardized instructions that can be performed efficiently and predictably, what have we done? We have reconceived work so that it can be performed by computers and robots. In fact, computers and robots are far more preferable than humans because we humans are ultimately unpredictable and have a really hard time following instructions to the letter, day in and day out.
This new robotics “megashift” has huge implications for the workplace. Employers will need workers who are better educated, more willing to change, and more flexible in their schedules and work habits than ever before. These workers won’t be needed for simple, repetitive jobs. They will be needed for computer-assisted jobs and for jobs that require creativity, innovation, and teamwork. They will have to be continuous learners, keeping up with technology, globalization, and new ways of organizing work.
So what’s the point?
- Shared power is necessary in a networked economy.
- Autonomy is essential for an engaged workforce.
- The social contract for work needs to change.