The top six challenges dominating the ‘world of work’ in the year 2005 and beyond: Part II

Feb 1, 05

This Month

I have added a new section called “suggestion of the month”. I look forward to suggestions, pointers, ideas, websites, books that you think all readers could benefit. This month I have included a time management tip that I try to follow.

” Gong Xi Fa Cai” to our Chinese readers. May the Year of the Rooster bring prosperity, happiness and joy to you and your families.

Warm wishes,

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Jigyasa (

The top six challenges dominating the ‘world of work’ in the year 2005 and beyond: Part II

Here are the top six challenges for organizations in the year 2005 and beyond:

1. Innovation
2. Ethics and Integrity
3. Outsourcing
4. Multi-cultural and Multi-location groups
5. Work-place demographics and lifestyle expectations: free agents, tech generation, baby boomers
6. Networking tools: Impact on learning and collaboration

I covered the first three of the top six challenges dominating the “world of work” in the year 2005 and beyond in my previous newsletter. Here are the remaining three.

4. Multi-cultural and Multi-location groups

Does silence mean agreement or disagreement?: “I ask for feedback in the meeting about our plan of action. Not one person speaks. I assume they are with me on this. Two weeks later, no action. I learn later that quite a few have a number of reservations. Why didn’t they tell me then?

Giving feedback acquires different dimensions: Age, gender, country and cultural background influence our outlook toward giving and receiving feedback. “I told her she needed to improve and she started crying!”

Attitude towards Supervisors / Subordinates: “I don’t question my seniors, why should my team question me?”

These statements have been shared by people who have been working in multicultural environments! Add distance and time pressure to this melting pot and imagine the challenges of working together in groups.

However, the good news is that virtual teams can be productive, even outperforming groups working side by side. Given the right environment multi cultural groups can make wonderful breakthroughs, according to an article, “Can Absence Make a Team Grow Stronger?” in the Harvard Business Review. The conclusion was drawn by a team that studied 54 teams in 26 organizations.

The challenge for organizations will be in creating the right environment and providing adequate infrastructure.

Further Reading:

Virtual Teams: This book, written by Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps is available online at:
This site has a number of useful resources on virtual teams and collaboration tools:
Can Absence Make a Team Grow Stronger?
– Harvard Business Review, May 2004

5. Work-place demographics and lifestyle expectations: free agents, tech generation, baby boomers

Rapid advancement in technology, rising standards of living, search for meaning at work and quest for happiness have given rise to different expectations from work itself. It has given rise to free agents who think it is worthwhile to work for themselves, the tech generation that has only seen good times and baby boomers who have seen and got the material comforts.

A one size fits all career planning of today will not work. Free agents, tech generation and baby boomers, each a significant contributor to organizational growth will have different expectations from organizations. Career Planning, training, rewards and incentives of today will need to become creative and tailored to accommodate various groups and needs.

Just like movie production houses that bring in directors, screen writers, actors and various other personnel for producing a movie, we might see organizations roping in different people for different projects and disbanding the team once the project is over? And what more? People might actually prefer this to long term employment.

Read an interesting first person account of job sharing in the resources section. Their value proposition: the organization gets two heads instead of one and they get to balance work and personal life.

Further Reading

From A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel Pink
Keynote at the 2004 HOW Design Conference by speaker and author Daniel Pink
How to Be a Manager-level Marketer When You Only Want to Work Part-time: Consider Job-sharing

6. Networking tools: Impact on learning and collaboration

Among the recent technological innovations, blogging probably is the single most important innovation that will have the biggest impact on learning and collaboration in the next few years.

Microsoft is leading the way in showing how its employees are using blogs. Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft in Fortune, January 2005 issue says, “It’s all about openness. People see them (blogs) as a reflection of an open, communicative culture that isn’t afraid of being self-critical.”

I believe an open and communicative culture that allows for spontaneous interaction lays the foundation for learning and collaboration at the workplace.

Among the senior corporate bloggers, there is Jonathan Schwartz, President of SunMicrosystems, Randy Beseler VP Marketing of Boeing Commercial airplanes. When senior people take up blogging, it not only allows employees and customers to read about a company’s direction and thoughts of a senior business leader, it allows for immediate feedback from people who might otherwise not have the opportunity or reason to interact.

What makes blogging so appealing? It’s fresh, it’s interactive, it’s immediate. There is room to exchange ideas and an opportunity to debate. You can choose subjects that are of interest to you or learn about issues that everyone is talking about and you wish to know more about them. What other ingredient do you need to make learning happen?

The new networking technologies are going to completely change the way we do communicate. Internet in its current form has already transformed the way we communicate at workplace and outside it. The new internet based technologies are going to revolutionize it further. Internet telephony is becoming more popular. Most of computer to computer calls are still free and computer to landline and cell phone calls are available at very attractive prices. Companies providing these services (Skype, Vonage and others) have already become household names.

For those who feel tied up to computer to make calls there is Wireless (WiFi) there are; still nascent WiFi telephones which work just like cell phones but over internet. Combine it with wide WiFi networks which some cities in US are experimenting with; and you have economy bundled with convenience. In addition to having a devastating impact on the traditional telephone and cell phone businesses, consider the impact on work place communications.

Further Reading:

Disruptive technologies
Philadelphia’s free wireless network
An introduction to weblogs
Some well known corporate / business bloggers:

Suggestion of the Month

The under two-minute rule: I find this a great tool to avoid procrastination. If there is any task or activity that can be done under two minutes for example forwarding a mail, making a call or just filing a paper, do it then and there.

From Getting things done: mastering the art of stress-free productivity, David Allen


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