Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Saturday, August 27, 2005

23 Theses about the future of work

by Jim Ware

This article articulates 23 theses the author feels will be the way work is undergoing reform. Please read them yourself.

Here are a few which attracts my attention a little more than others (because the likely impact on the way we should prepare ourselves and our next generation).

1. We need to know our competency and response adequately:
Project management tools will support the decomposition of complex, larger work tasks into more discreet units. The “rule of two” will become a standard:

Here’s how much time you have . . . to

  • 2 minutes ..take action on immediate requests for your attention. If you can’t handle it that quickly, then it needs to go to someone, or some place else!

  • 2 hours . . . hold face-to-face meetings. If it takes longer than that, you’re not planning!!

  • 2 days . . . .respond to electronic requests. If you can’t get to it by then, you’re wasting your time and everyone else’s.

  • 2 weeks . . . assemble a work team and commit to a plan. If you can’t find the right people and the right plan by then, the project will fail.

  • 2 months . . . identify a business opportunity and test it with customers. If you can’t do it by then, your competition can.

  • 2 years . . . nothing at all. If your static plans reach out years into the future, the world will have passed you by long before you get them done.

2. We need to be able to work in team, hence good inter-personal and communication skills. AND we need to engage in life-long learning.
People will shift their work activities to their core competencies for approximately 80% of their time. Everything else will be handed off to someone with complementary competencies. Individuals themselves will become less ‘vertically integrated’ and grow loosely coupled collaborative networks to meet their needs outside their core competencies. No more "jack of all trades.’" The remaining time will be devoted to learning new skills and competencies.

3. Improved decision making skills in light of incomplete knowledge of the problem.
Work projects will begin with some goals and vision, but will continuously morph as the projects rolls on, being responsive to external influences. This new reality means that project budgets will be moving targets, deadlines somewhat arbitrary, and final design impossible to predict. Managers who thrive on certainty must evolve into leaders of ambiguity – or be left behind.

4. Multi-tasking ability. The ability to quickly shift focus, retrieve relevant information to make a decision and perform a task.
People will work on several “projects” at once (indeed, most knowledge workers already do). Some will even have several “jobs” and serve many masters simultaneously. Individuals will take on the responsibility of managing their efforts across projects, as well as within projects. New skills in project trajectory control will be required, as well as a higher-level executive function that balances capacity (what I can do today) with capability (what I need to be able to do tomorrow).


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