amily, taking weekends o, workingwith people we have known wellin oces we go to every day. Andwhat’s coming in its place is muchless knowable and less understandable — almost too ragile to grasp.
Facing the future
Over the last two years, my missionhas been to understand how work and organisations will evolve. WhatI wanted was not rm predictions,since I know these are notoriouslyunreliable, but rather a point o view,a basic idea o what the hard acts o the uture are, and a way o thinkingabout the uture that has internalcohesion. I wanted to discover,with as much ne-grained detail aspossible, how the uture o work islikely to evolve.Why it is so important now, toat least attempt to paint a realisticpicture o the uture, is that we canno longer imagine the uture simplyby extrapolating rom the past. Thepast six generations have experiencedthe most rapid and proound changemankind has experienced in its 5,000years o recorded history. I the worldeconomy continues to grow at thesame pace as the last hal-century,then by the time my children are theage I am now — in 2050 — the worldwill be seven times richer than it istoday, world population could be over9 billion and average wealth will alsohave increased dramatically.We live at a time when the schismwith the past is o the same magnitudeas that last seen in the late 18thcentury. A schism o such magnitudethat work — what we do, where wedo it, how we work and with whom — will change, possibly unrecognisably inour lietime. In the late 18th century,the drivers o this change were thedevelopment o coal and steam power.This time around it is not the resulto a single orce, but rather the subtlecombination o ve orces that willundamentally transorm much o whatwe take or granted about work: theneeds o a low-carbon economy, rapidadvances in technology, increasingglobalisation, proound changesin longevity and demography andproound societal changes.It is not just our day-to-dayworking conditions and habits that willchange dramatically. What will alsochange is our working consciousness,just as the industrial age changedthe working consciousness o our predecessors. The industrialrevolution introduced a mass marketor goods and with it a rewiring o thehuman brain towards an increasingdesire or consumption and theacquisition o wealth and property.The question we ace now is howthe working consciousness o currentand uture employees will be urthertransormed in the age o technologyand globalisation we are entering.What is inevitable is that, oryounger people like my two sons,work will change dramatically — andthose o us already in the workorcewill be employed in ways we canhardly imagine.
The wise crowd
To better understand the uture o work, rom October 2009 to May2010 I led a research consortium o 21 companies and over 200 executivesrom around the world. The majorbusiness sectors were represented bya wide array o rms, including Absa(the South Arican bank), Nokia,Nomura, Tata Consulting Services(TCS), Shell, Thomson Reuters,Novartis and Novo Nordisk, SAP,BT and Singapore’s Ministry o Manpower, as well as two not-or-prot organisations, Save the Childrenand World Vision. My colleagues,Dr Julia Goges-Cooke and AndreasVoigt, also took part.The consortium communitymet initially in November 2009 atLondon Business School where welooked closely at the hard acts o theuture, then took the conversationinto their own companies. We wereable to work together virtually in anelaborate shared portal and also todiscuss the emerging ideas in monthlywebinars — and later in a series o workshops in Europe and Asia. At thesame time, I tested out some o myinitial thoughts by writing a weeklyblog (www.lyndagrattonutureowork)on which a wider communitycommented. It was these ideas,insights and anxieties that becamestitched into storyline narratives andbrought depth to our conversations.What excited the community wasnding answers to three questions:
How will external orces shape theway my company and its peopledevelop over the coming decades?
How best can we prepare or thesedevelopments to ‘uture proo’the company?
What can we learn rom othersabout where to ocus our attentionand resources, what will betough, and what will be morestraightorward?
Working it out
How will these ve orces aect theway we work in 2025, and whatdoes this mean or the choices andactions we should be taking now?My research and conversations aboutthe uture o work have led me tounderstand that the uture will beless about general skills and moreabout in-depth mastery; less aboutworking as a competitive, isolatedindividual and more about workingcollaboratively in a joined world; andless about ocusing solely on a standardo living and more on the qualityo experiences. Here are the ways Ibelieve these three shits will play outin our lives and the lives o others.
The shift to mastery
I believethat in the uture the means by whichindividual value is created will shitrom having generalist ability to havingspecialist ability and achieving serialmastery. Why? Because i you remaina generalist, there are thousands,perhaps even millions, o people whocan do the same work as you do — yet aster, cheaper and perhaps even
BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEW
Q3 – 2010