The future of working and leading

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Many things seem quite clear and simple – because that’s just the way they are right now.

Take people in an organization, for example. You might think that there are two types: workers that do the work and leaders that decide what work needs to be done.

That approach to organizational structure comes out of the needs of an industrial, factory based society – where machines needed to be tended, things needed to be assembled and people had jobs that involved doing a few, repetitive tasks over and over again.

That world just doesn’t exist for many people any more.

The kinds of challenges organizations and societies face are more complex and nuanced now.

There may be an underlying trend, an upswell, a hint that our future economies will be based around more decentralized, democratic technologies than now.

At the moment, it feels like the world is controlled by a few giant corporations.

Take information, for example.

The four giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple dominate what we find, buy, share and see. They seem unassailable, billion dollar firms that are virtual monopolies in the current economy.

They may, however, be swept away in the future by shared, decentralized platforms that we all can own and operate using technologies such as blockchain.

People may prefer to deal with community owned businesses or social enterprises.

And that trend has an interesting application to organizational development.

Will organizations in the future stay hierarchical, controlled by a small number of leaders who make all the decisions?

Or will the organizations that perform in the future have more blurred lines between workers and leaders?

Despite an increasingly technological world, people will still choose to work with people much of the time for tasks that are complex, creative or need the application of thought.

There may not be much space in organizations for leaders who don’t contribute work. Conversely, workers who don’t learn how to lead and perform in teams may find themselves replaced by machines.

In this future, networks of committed and creative people may create the products and services we use every day.

It may be that the organizations of the future are going to be decentralized networks of individuals who share leadership and work – with performance in the market emerging out of their collective behaviour.

Do you know how you will fit in?

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