The requirements for both management and organizations have evolved continuously during the last century, correlating with advancements in psychology, the arts, music, technology, the political landscape, and society.

It’s hard to put a finger on a specific time or event marking the change, but the driver and the cause of the development is often said to be technological advancement. The propagation of the internet and computers is one of the clearest vital signs of the change, since it has made global communication and access to knowledge easy.

In general, the speed of change in this development is constantly increasing and is called the ‘change of change’. In fact, we have never seen anything like it: We are looking into a future with constant change. MORE changes, RAPID changes, and PIVOTAL changes, in technology, information, and structures (Hamel, Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment, 2011).

Let’s look at some facts about organizations, leadership and employees in the modern workplace and in the future of work, in order to understand the importance of and the need for a paradigm shift.

One vital sign is low employee engagement. It has been thoroughly investigated and documented, for example by Gallup (Gallup, Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015, 2016), that 50-70% of the workforce is unengaged. This is an enormous number of employees and managers. Almost unanimously, the studies have found that work, to a certain degree, is meaningless, not fun, and without freedom. Some even report a fear at work, both due to the manager’s way of instilling anxiety and a culture of zero tolerance towards failure, and due to the fear of losing their job to a robot or a piece of software.

McKinsey reported (McKinsey, 2017) that 40% of our working hours are in scope for being automated or phased out over a 20-year period, with technology that already exists. In 2013, the University of Oxford made a list of 702 jobs and their probability for being ‘computerizable’ (Frey and Osborne, 2013): more than 300 of these had more than 80% probability for being automated.

In 2016, Bloch&Østergaard and DARE2 (Østergaard and Østergaard, 2016) conducted a study with 900 respondents in Denmark, the UK, and the US, which documented that only 18% of Danes believe it’s likely that their current job will be replaced by new technology (e.g. computers, robots, software). In the US, it was 30%. In the UK, 31%. So there is a significant cultural variation in the understanding, severity and focus of the issue.

It is also said that many of the jobs our children will have in the future are not invented yet (Aakerberg, 2016). And that, “Half a century ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. Now it’s less than 15 years and declining even further.” (Denning, 2011)

The World Economic Forum has predicted the top 10 skills to master in 2020 (A. Gray, 2016), which proposes a heavy blend of creative and innovative thinking, entrepreneurial problem solving, and emotional intelligence (EQ).

We’re facing some radical changes, but it is not all doom and gloom.

Despite the seemingly dystopic predictions of AI, automation and loss of jobs, these changes bring some exciting possibilities for replacing the existing management and organizational structures with something more modern and future-oriented. The development and progress make this the right time to stop and rethink our approach to work. This is an optimistic possibility.

This is where the paradigm shift enters the picture.

This is what this book is about.

/Erik

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

Hamel, Gary. 2011. Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment. The University of Phoenix Distinguished Guest Video Lecture Series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aodjgkv65MM

Gallup. 2016. Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015. 13 January. http://bit.ly/200qU8Y

McKinsey. 2017. A future that works: The impact of automation in Denmark. McKinsey. April. http://bit.ly/2pso0QJ

Frey, Carl Benedikt, and Michael A. Osborne. 2013. The Future Of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs To Computerisation? University of Oxford, Oxford School of Economics.

Østergaard, Kris, and Erik Korsvik Østergaard. 2016. Does your co-worker want your boss to be a robot? DARE2 and Bloch&Østergaard. August. http://dare2.dk/future-of-work/

Aakerberg, Michelle Czajkowski. 2016. SCENARIO Magazine. SCENARIO. http://www.scenariomagazine.com/your-childrens-jobs-have-yetto-be-invented/

Denning, Steve. 2011. Peggy Noonan On Steve Jobs And Why Big Companies Die. Forbes. Nov. http://bit.ly/2xTD8L6

Gray, Alex. 2016. The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum.  https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-needto-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/.