work done and new work can use completelynew structures.
Some people would argue that informationtechnology is having a similar impact onwhite-collar workers to that whichmechanization has already had on the blue-collar workers/industry.
There is a lot of truth to that. Those peoplewho argue that there is nothing really new inthese changes, that we’ve been doing awaywith jobs and labour by replacing them withmachines for years and years, have a goodpoint. One key difference is that the oldprocess changes tended to concentrate work into one place – a factory, even an ofﬁce. Butinformation-related activities, which are nowbeing increasingly automated, can be donealmost anywhere, and almost at any time.That comment applies to virtually all the newadded value activities that we now call jobs.
Challenges for the future
What do you see as the key developmentsand challenges for the future?
The ﬁrst challenge is for the individual whohas been, and still is, pretty comfortable withthe idea of being an employee. And the chal-lenge here is how can you learn to take theskills and experience that you have, and turnthem into something that the marketplaceneeds, as an independent business person, orprofessional, without the support of what wehave traditionally called a
? Essentially thatmeans being paid for the work you do, ratherthan because you are on the payroll of someorganization. The second challenge is for theorganization; if many people are providingwork from this “outsourcing”, how is theorganization itself going to manage thesepeople and the overall process? This requiresthe organization to rethink a wide range of itsactivities from the very practical, like healthand safety insurance cover, to the broaderquestions of strategy. All these questionsproduce major challenges for the remainingmanagers who have the responsibility for theorganization’s future. The third challenge isfor society as a whole. Society has found the
a very convenient vehicle for certain socialsupport services and many ﬁnancial transac-tions between the individual and the state,including a large number of taxes and ben-eﬁts. What happens if people no longer havejobs in the traditional sense? The Governmenthas to start dealing directly with many moreindividuals over these issues.
One pressure that is causing this process toimpact on an increasing number of white-collar workers is the need to measure thevalue added of the activities of those workers.This has been done extensively for decades onthe factory ﬂoor, but it is only just starting tobe done with the same rigour in the ofﬁce andthe white-collar industries.
That’s right. Another way of putting that isan administrative culture has built up, whichis primarly concerned with the administrationof the rules. That administrative mentality isthe classical status quo mentality. What hap-pens if that world has to change rapidly, as isthe case today? That administrative mentalityis not adequate; it is going to have to becomeefﬁcient, to provide good service and above allbe willing and able to change.
For many managers, and white-collarworkers, that requires them to switch from arule-bound, status quo environment to amanaging change culture. How can manage-ment respond to this challenge? Or will thenew patterns, after a short time, also producetheir own new administrative rule-bound,status quo pressures?
I am not willing to wait until we see if thesenew patterns actually emerge in that way,because we can easily rip ourselves apart onthe journey, if we do not take action now. Thechallenge is to ﬁnd some measures, or bench-marks, for what we are now doing, so that weknow whether or not we are doing better orworse, both over time and between our andother similar organizations. This is the sort of question that the administrative culture doesnot ask itself. One interesting technique thatis being increasingly used in the USA in thiscontext is activity-based costing (ABC),which allows everyone to assess more effec-tively what individuals and groups do.
This trend is reﬂected in the increasing useof devolved budgets.
So you push proﬁt and loss responsibilityfurther down?
The end of the job
Bruce Lloyd interviews William Bridges
The International Journal of Career ManagementVolume 7 · Number 2 · 1995 · 29–33