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  • Erika Clegg

Guest Post: It’s time to make the most of people, not the same

Tom Goodwin has kindly written this post for us. The New York based author of Digital Darwinism, Tom has delivered over 100 keynote speeches across 80 cities in 40 countries across the world. Formerly Head of Futures and Insight at Publicis, Tom has recently launched culture change, innovation and transformation consultancy All we have is now

Technology first embellished our lives and then entered every nook and cranny of it. So fast has it happened that we’ve let it take control. We’re bossed around by devices, let the data tell us what to do, and we’re now living in service of mobile phones, hoping one day to get to “inbox zero” .


At some point we needed to take a step back, take a breath, reconsider the role of technology, put ourselves in control, but also realize the profound new possibilities that lie before us if we focus on the meaning of technology. Perhaps that time can be now.


Our current working world is newer than we think. We’ve not had time to digest the role of work in our lives, the meaning it should impart, how we should be rewarded, or even how much of our lives it should take up. The idea of a productive workforce is old, but the idea of a happy one is entirely contemporary. For years businesses have modeled themselves on factories from the past, seeking to make the same of people, not the most. Seeking command and control, reliability above brilliance. Positioning leadership as setting the tempo, beating the drum and barking out broadcasted orders.


Companies have ordered themselves around compliance, around process, around order and discipline, much like schooling has trained us. Companies assume you work for them, that time served, time spent working and the location of work are vital. Training is about ensuring people are the most similar.


When we seek to exploit technology as a lever to what we, as people, can do, we realize the incredible leverage we can explore. We realize we’ve gone from economies of producing physical goods, with our bodies or machines, to ones where it’s our ideas, our imagination and thinking add value. And so we realize that our entire industrial complex is set up wrong.


The modern world needs to destroy all assumptions of the past and face big and wonderful questions.


What is the role of culture? How do you create a shared sense of progress and passion? How can recruitment contemporize and not merely reward those who were most compliant at school? What is the role of training, who drives it? How do we work with more freelancers, fewer full time roles? What are more imaginative ways to “compensate” and reward people than salary and time off?


If culture is the worst behavior you tolerate and the best behavior you celebrate, how do you ensure this happens?


As technology allows even more augmentation of the wonders of the human spirit we will recognize that digital transformation is really about culture change. And no role is more vital than that of the leadership. This is a wonderful time to bring change to our companies. It's a great time to rethink what we believed to be constant and it’s a great opportunity to become the leaders we need for the modern era.

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