Saturday, July 23, 2005

Enjoy the ride or fall asleep

If you work in an office I don’t think you have to have a degree in sociology to realise something is “going on”. We are going through something that is challenging basic beliefs and values in the office setting.

I think about the world of office work twenty years from now. I am not into science fiction but what I am writing “feels” a bit like that.

The youngsters of today ….. And by that I mean six and seven year olds ……have keyboards as extensions to their fingers. It is amazing to try and predict the world of office based work for them. When I think back 20 years in my career it is simply unrecognisable from today.

The days of rationality and having lots of time to debate issues have gone. Of course many people want things to move at the more leisurely pace they have become accustomed to in their career. The snag is the demands are different. We used to work in a situation where the customer did not drive the process. The customer responded to the foibles of the organisation. The customer today is calling the shots and is, in fact, in charge. And, by the way, the customer wants it now

Our children are being brought up surrounded by massive leaps of technological advance that do feel like science fiction …they are going to arrive on the work scene ten years from now with a totally different view of the world to mine; They are going to be more inquisitive They are going to bring new skills to the workplaceThey are going to challenge the way things have been done in the past

They are going to develop a new language that some of us “veterans” will find hard to speak never mind understand. Yes of course they are also going to make mistakes … but the mistakes they will be making will be “new mistakes” not repeating the old mistakes that I made and my father made.

I wonder how many youngsters (20 and under) of 2005 will retire having been on the payroll of just one organisation. The days have gone too when one’s effectiveness is judged by how long you stayed on the payroll. I suspect that the career of the future will be largely determined by the needs and wishes of the individual in the white collar world, rather than the opportunities presented to them by large organisations.

In summary, my feeling is we should “get on the bus” (Tom Peters) and be prepared for a bumpy ride for the next few years …. But learn to enjoy the bumpy ride – the smooth ride is an option only for those who wish to remain asleep.


Troy Worman said...

Well said, my friend. Relevant... as Chairman of my org's Diversity Council, I see some interesting stats... For instance, the average 34 y.o. American has worked for nine (9) different companies. I'm sure things aren't much different in the U.K. or... say, China... but, I could be wrong.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for that Troy - I have heard similar research here in the UK but probably not quite such a high tunover of jobs as in the States.

Constant change is here to stay my friend :-)

Mike said...

Does this say as much about the technology savvy and skill set of the average young worker as it does about the inability of the average organization to serve the needs of their workers? I worked in a "hell job" for six years and when I had the chance to move to a good company I took it and never regretted it. I'm still there after sixteen years because they have given me unbelievable opportunities to grow and stretch. My next move will be either into business for myself or retirement.

Trevor Gay said...

Brilliant insight Mike - thank you

I had the same dilemma as you about a year ago and decided to go into self employment after 35 years in one career.

I've not had one second of regret my friend

Get out is my advice - fly without a safety net - it is exhilirating and wonderful to be free.

Ensure you have some fall back position of course - but please just go for it ... thinking about it means you already have made up your mind.

A friend said to me a year ago .... your brain has decided and your body will catch up soon.

He was right - Great advice!! :-)