Overview of my Social Now talk: The Future Of Work In A Social World

I will be presenting one of the keynotes at the upcoming Social Now conference, 18-19 April 2013, in Lisbon. I am eager to go, not just because Lisbon is a wonderful city where I have old friends, but also because the event is very tool-focused. In fact, I am one of the few presenters not directly talking about tools.

So I thought I would share an abstract of the talk, and after the conference I will publish something longer, once I have heard what I have to say.

The Future Of Work In A Social World

The social revolution is still in its early days, but we have enough experience to have learned a bit, and to be able to conjecture even more. The arrival of social tools is one part of a larger, swirling mess of large-scale change smashing into our lives like a tornado, and tearing the roof off the world of business. The elements of that mess all influence each other — tech factors like digital, mobile, and the cloud, societal shifts like urbanization, new media, and the always-on lifestyle, and correspondingly massive stressors like climate change, globalism, the shifting social contract, and the boom/bust cycle of the world economy — these seem to be the new normal in the 21st century. The new normal is that there is no normal anymore. Welcome to the Postnormal.

We can be certain of little, but it’s safe to say that the future of work will be social (and other adjectives), and businesses that are becoming social are confronted by the need for deep cultural change, which is hard. The degree of difficulty depends on where you are starting from. I will present a new model of corporate culture, based on values and organization style, called the 3C model. [This will be the debut!] I think this will help us understand the nature of the change called for, what sorts of resistance is likely, and an end state:  the form factor of a social business.

In brief, we are seeing a transition from process-defined work, where tightly defined rules and narrowly constrained roles shape people working lives, and organize the company culture into a collective mindset, toward relationship-framed work, where people use creativity, innovation, and connection to determine how to accomplish increasingly nonroutine work, and where we see a shift to fast-and-loose cooperation from tight-and-slow collaboration.

I will talk about the tools and practices that are most relevant — and those that are missing — for this transition to move forward. And finally, some thoughts about what that future social world might feel like for its inhabitants.