To think about work in a new different way, you need to start thinking like a problem solver. In this video, learn about the the four critical steps that define work.
- So we've already covered how jobs are becoming unbundled. Now let's focus on how work, the specific activities that we do, are becoming unbundled as well. That will help you understand how work is being affected by the twin juggernauts of automation and globalization. The Oxford Dictionary tells us that work is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. That doesn't necessarily mean we're paid for it though, so Oxford continues it's mental or physical activity as a means of earning income.
Of course, not all work is paid, but even volunteer work is still work. If we distill work down to its simplest building blocks, there are three basic elements that matter, problems, tasks, and skills. So to be paid for work, we need to be solving a problem for someone. Problems are solved by performing a set of tasks, and tasks are performed by using our skills, what we know and what we can do. This is true whether the set of problems involves a dirty floor or complex programming code.
Work is a series of problems which are solved by tasks which are performed using our skills. What are some examples? A fast food company has problems like getting food into the hands of happy customers. Tasks such as taking orders and making change are performed using skills like listening, handling money, making change, and so on. A consulting company has problems like helping customers develop complex marketing strategies. Tasks such as conducting research programs and engaging in strategy design, are performed using skills like analyzing, interviewing, synthesizing, and writing.
Now many organizations have an underlying set of problems to be solved that are reasonably common to all industries such as managing revenues and expenditures, compensating employees, managing facilities, and so on. And every field has its own very specific set of problems to be solved which may require unique tasks and unique skills. So one way to think about your organization then is as a bundle of problems to be solved, the tasks to be performed to solve those problems, and the skills needed to perform all those tasks in the form of your team and your employees.
Now sure that's an oversimplification, but to understand how work is becoming unbundled, it's useful to help distill down to the essential functions of your organization and of your team. So speaking of your team, here's a valuable thought experiment for you. You might want to write these down and even draft a few answers. What the problems you're regularly asking your team to solve? What are the tasks that are performed to solve those problems? And here's the most important part, does your team have all the skills and knowledges needed to perform those tasks and to solve those problems at the level you need them to be performed? Using this lens helps you to distill down to the basic building blocks of your team, and it can help you to understand your team's contributions to the overall organization.
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- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working