Getting a handle on innovation

Enterprise executives only get a handle on disruptive technology by considering and understanding both changes in IT implementation and, more importantly, the resulting changes in their business and industry.

I was interviewed about the future of work for an upcoming workshop

I was interviewed by my friend Teresa di Cairano on some of the topics we are developing for the upcoming Future Of Work workshop, scheduled for November 19-20 in Toronto. Those who read my writing here might be interested in some of the points I made:

What are some of the key forces impacting the future of work?

I think there are three forces transforming the world of work today:

The tempo of competition and complexity has risen to a new ‘beyond chaotic’ pace, and it is increasing, pushing the economy over a threshold into a new economic era, the post normal, in which the primary response of business will be the adoption of a fast-and-loose style of business operations. Fast-and-loose is not meant to suggest shadiness or sloppiness, but instead agility, resilience, and a predisposition toward experimentation, innovation, and action, as well as a seemingly paradoxical loosening and increase of the social connections between people.

Governments around the world have also felt the impact of the financial meltdown, aging population, rising health care costs and other social challenges. As a result this is forcing the public sector to rethink its workplace in order to create one that is more flexible, creative and innovative. People are connected by both open and enterprise social tools to an unprecedented degree, leading to the paradox of a connected ‘workspace’ — the sanctioned and unsanctioned social tools and other workplace affordances – supporting a decentralized, discontinuous, and distributed workforce.

Organizations are being accelerated and destabilized by the adoption of companion devices (aka ‘mobile’ devices), and the explosion of cloud computing. The new role of IT is to bridge the two ends of this shift toward ubiquitous computing, and get out of the way.

What is the emerging role of social business in work?

Social business has become a mainstream concept, with a large number of senior executives expecting to gain new productivity from these technologies. However, it appears that there are considerable organizational and cultural issues still to be worked out before that promise can be met.


What are some of the leadership implications for the future of work?

In the executive suite, leaders need to adapt to a rapidly changing business context, one that makes new levels of agility, innovation, and resilience more critical than ever before. So business leaders are actively seeking a way forward to new productivity gains, all the while aware that the techniques used in the recent past can’t be applied again. Something new must be found, perhaps distilled from the latent energy in social connection and frictionless communication, and it must be tapped even if the workforce is harder to lead than ever before.

I’m really looking forward to the event, because it is forcing me to clarify and collate a lot of my writings about the future of work into a coherent form.

Time to join the Work Revolution

Last week I happened upon a mention of an upcoming event in New York City, called the Work Revolution Summit. I browsed the site and immediately realized that these were my kind of people, some of whom I know, like Seth Godin, Simon Mainwaring, Dina Kaplan, Dan Pontefract, and Jessica Lawrence, but all of whom seem very, very smart and close the edge:

From the site:


The Work Revolution Summit is an invitation-only conference which aims to fundamentally re-design the “operating software” of business.
Why would we do this? Well, sadly, most workplaces suck — literally. Our organizations are actually designed to be life-sucking entities. Despite the fact that the majority of our lives are spent doing this thing called “work,” the vast majority of people hate it.
This is tragic, but it’s not terminal.
If enough of us wanted to, we could completely re-design the way we work.
In fact, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

I find the metaphor of the business operating system to be powerful and evocative, and one with hope built in. When struggling with the concepts around business culture or organizational change we can get mired in all the reasons why not. But when considered as a designed object, like a few millions lines of source code in an operating system, even though making significant changes can be difficult and may take serious time, it feels more open to human agency, and less of an uneditable set of deeply wired in biases.
I am now one of the participants highlighted on the site, having applied and been accepted for the invitation only event, 20-21 September in New York City. I also browsed over to the website, and joined the revolution. I added some additional gloss to the profile they have of me on the site — characterized as a thought leader — in a Socialogy post on my blog.
The organization has an about page, which is a manifesto:
I can easily support this: it aligns with my beliefs about our basic motivations, and the current mismatch between today’s business operating system and the new form factor of work.
(This has motivated me to consider boiling down the thoughts I have been developing here and at into a similar manifesto, each point of which will be a chapter in the book I am at work on. I have drafted several chapters, but recently I have rethought the book’s basic arc to better reflect my core interest — the future of work — rather than smaller, less forward-looking topics, like social business.)
I suggest that anyone with interest in these topics visit the Work Revolution site and try to attend the Summit. They are only charging a nominal fee to cover costs, like $100. If you are serious about the future of work, take a look, and join us.

The future of work in a social world: part 2

This is the second in a two-part series of posts, exploring the talk I gave recently in Lisbon, entitled The Future Of Work In A Social World.

You might want to read the first part beforehand.


We are transitioning from routinized work based on business processes where people fill roles and follow rules laid down by others. Note that business processes rely on push communication, moving information to people based on disembodied rules.



The central feature of social networks is that people are connected to each through personal ties, and the communications shift to pull: People choose who to follow, who to treat as sources of information.

Most critically, people aren’t defined as roles in social networks, and they aren’t constrained to those interactions defined in processes. Their interactions are based on a larger number of less-constrained communication paths. As a result, things are looser.


Read More about The future of work in a social world: part 2

What is my research agenda for 2013?

I’ve been putting off writing about my research agenda for the year, since I just assumed this new role of Social ‘curator’ for GigaOM Research (formerly GigaOM Pro) back in early December. Two months later I think I can talk a bit more about my focus and goals.

Obviously, social business is a very hot marketplace. There’s a lot going on, with major vendors aggressively positioning themselves for a leadership position in what is going to be a huge marketplace, already projected for be headed for tens of billions per year in this decade.

Here is an outline that I intend to fill in over the coming weeks. Ping me on Twitter (@stoweboyd) if I have left something critical out.

Social Business:

Technologies, techniques and communities related to work media (enterprise social networks), social selling (CRM), social media/social marketing, social talent management (HR), social knowledge, social design (and I plan to dig in deeply to the world of developers (Github, Stack Overflow), and designers (Behance)).

Economic and societal drivers, like accommodating the 3D workforce (distributed, decentralized, and discontinuous), the postnormal economy, the power of social density.

Other themes: Debunking the myths of management, social cognition, science not folklore, network science, social literacy.

Future of Work

Post PC, BYOD, BYOS, 3D workforce.

Coworking, workplace design, generational change, remote work.

Innovation and creativity, play, mindfulness, attention, open collaboration.

In the near term I am working on a report that explores a number of themes on the future of work, and I will write a series of posts in the next few weeks on those topics, leading toward that report. At the end of the year I plan to return to a roadmap on work media tools, and revisiting that vitally important area. I am planning several others, one of which is likely to be an examination of the social communities and technologies used by designers and developers.

More to follow.

Workday’s public offering pops

Wall Street seems to love Workday, that is on-trend with cloud and mobile enterprise software, if a little light as a social or platform play.

Workspaces go slash

As careers become more fluid, diverse and self-directed and more of us work flexibly at multiple gigs or projects, the hard lines between spaces for work, family and play are also becoming less stark. Behold the railway station/office and coworking space/daycare.

Women make up the majority of online freelancers, study says

If you imagine that online freelancing is mainly the preserve of male techies, it’s time to revise your understanding. A new survey of the sector by consultancy Zinnov reveals women make up 55 percent of the online labor pool, along with other insights.