What does a top engineer at Volvo in Sweden, a creative director at Nike in Sao Paolo and a senior consultant at EY in Jakarta all have in common? They are all folks I’ve met in the last few months that just made the leap. They’ve abandoned their cushy jobs in the pursuit of something unknown, something new.
The ability to navigate under ambiguous circumstances is an asset in today’s complex business world and an absolute necessity when it comes to directing your own career. Driven by an eternal curiosity and square shaped thinking, the new fluid careerist is an amalgamation of all her expertise and experiences.
And it’s a very exciting time indeed. Never before has there been a movement in the history of human labour so potent and so fierce. Flexibility and fluidity are becoming the norm in our working practices and within our organizations. All of it enabled and amplified through technology -- the expansive and exponential network of ideas, value and growth.
Human Resources is Busted
The HR industry is antiquated. When traditional labour-oriented jobs gave way to knowledge based ones many corporations failed to upgrade their recruitment systems. Management by objective (often using rewards as motivation) is the bedrock of present-day HR practices.
The reality is, HR is a marketing function. The product is the company and the consumer is the future candidate. The role of the HR professional is not to promote a job but to sell the company's culture code to the most fitting candidate. The right employees will adapt and develop if given the opportunity and requisite support. If an organization’s greatest asset is its people, then its most important weapon is its ability to empower them.
As HR departments begin the process of upgrading their operating system, they can keep busy ensuring they retain their current talent while telling a story that attracts the talent they seek. It also means not being as picky about filling the right skills (more than 30% of required skills on job specifications are rarely met). After all, talented individuals--rather than ones that just check the boxes on a job description--are the true rockstars.
I wanted to join a Hyper Island Master Class for some time and finally got the chance this winter in New York. The experience nourished my mind, boosted my energy and spun me into a flow-state for the ensuing weeks. The dynamism between Lisa and Marcus was something truly special, and I often felt like I was listening to two DJs taking turns unleashing audio assaults on their audience. Don’t get me wrong, much akin to a delightful musical escapade—this was a heady and windy learning journey. The big takeaway? Whether designing a product, service or a movement – work like a network.
On Education Reform
The Master Class nudged me down a rabbit hole examining and contemplating our education system in the westernized world. In particular, how far it needs to come in order to better equip future generations for work. While schools like Vittra that emphasize progressive learning design may be a plenty in Scandinavia and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have nearly doubled to total 35 million since last year - these are only partial band-aid solutions to a much wider systemic problem.
The banking system of education where students simply store information deposited into them by the teacher is all but too commonplace. Modeled on the industrial age needs for units of productivity (and the intellectual culture of the enlightenment for academic performance) -- education was designed in its image. This system is inherently hopeless for today’s networked economy. Clustering students by their age is arbitrary, working off curriculums that are often outdated before they are implemented is ineffective, and failing to understand how a given student learns best is tantamount to failing them.
Hyper’s content and learning by doing methods are beneficial at any stage of your career. However we need to start this type of experimental, immersive and made-to-measure learning much earlier on for students. We must undo decades of institutionalized behaviour reinforced by parents, schools and businesses. The next wave of workers will all need superior self-management abilities to do the deep work the innovation economy will demand.
Armed with can-do attitudes, growth mindsets, and the versatility to learn on the fly -- this generation will thrive in a new world of work.
Rise of the Independents
As more people choose themselves, the balance of the workforce will tip in their favour. Indeed, macro trends point to the entire working world moving towards a leaner way of operating. Research shows that by 2020 more than 65% of the workforce will be independents. In other words, the limited talent pool for full time workers is only getting smaller while the contingent external workforce is growing.
As work continues to change and evolve the impetus will be on belonging to a community over a workforce. Modern day transitionary ways of working like Roam and WeLive will continue to spread. The destination, whether in the physical world or not, will be tied to shared identities. It’s a temporal place where one chooses to get the technological, creative and intellectual freedom to do their best work. These ephemeral places allow for industries to merge, disciplines to blend, creativity to flourish and innovation to happen.
The fluid careerist wants what many companies simply cannot provide: autonomy, mastery and purpose. So a plethora of upstarts are catering to this emerging segment. Vestd permits experts to contribute to startups in exchange for equity in the business. Colony employs blockchain technology (the same platform that enables bitcoin exchange) to enable a new type of creative collectivism. Other notable platforms helping independents flourish include Workmarket, 10x Management, Lystable, and Bonsai. The alternative workforce they feed — the gig economy — in turn fuels organizations as they contract and expand indefinitely.
In many ways, the tables have turned from companies picking employees to talent deciding where and how they want to work. When I peer in the eyes of the folks that have made that leap, with a twinkle they reveal ‘I’ve chosen myself’. Balanced together, independents are creating a renewal in work. The next wave of organizing, employment, and value creation will spawn from them – and I’m stoked for the ride.
You can now sign up for our Master Class in either Stockholm, Los Angeles, New York, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Bogota or Singapore between January and November 2017.
About the Writer
Jonas is passionate about helping people do their best work. With over 20 years experience as a design strategist, he has partnered with leading organisations including Google, Sony Music, Tate Modern and The BBC. He is an adjunct professor in entrepreneurship and innovation at The University of British Columbia and a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Jonas is currently penning his second book on the future of work, due out summer 2017.