The Intentional Organisation - Issue #13 - Time for Trends
1. Time for Trends. A Retrospective.
December. It’s that time of year where everywhere magazines, conferences, blog posts bloat about next year’s trends. A fast search on Google shows “About 1’300’000’000” results for the search “2021 Trends”. I love that “about”, a real understatement, nobody can check if they are just 1’299’999’325 or 1’300’003’218.
Yet, it is that “about” that makes the search for trends even more cumbersome, if we think about our current status. We so much lounge to understand what will happen next, that we lose touch with the moment, with the here and now.
I thought that Covid would have given a lesson on this need for forecasting. After a break, linked to the shock of the first lock-out, it seems it that people quickly got back into “strategic mode” trying to foresee what will happen next.
I will probably write a blog post specific on HR Trends, and possibly one on Retail Trends, collecting the prominent opinions that are relevant from the web. However, for me, trends are not useful because of their capacity to predict the future, but rather for the sensemaking effort they should crystallise.
So, what has happened retrospectively to the 2020 HR trends?
Corporate Purpose was meant to be the driving force for the year. What happened? Well, we have seen a few companies living to their promise as they faced the pandemics. When Airbnb announced its layoff plan, it did so with a high level of transparency and support to the affected personnel. Yet a lot of companies simply went on and cut labour with a conscious choice of focusing more on financial stability rather than the purpose, or?
What did we learn? In a hard time, it is easier to see who sticks to their higher values and principles, and those instead who simply prefer to follow the flow of cosmetic touches.
Digital was a second “must” for the year. Well, we can undoubtedly say that this has become a priority for everybody, not sure if according to the plans. Covid-19 has demonstrated that most issues with technology implementations are linked to people, not the technology itself. We have seen the largest experiment of technology adoption related to remote working. Yet, many organisations still interpret this change as a pure technological novelty, focusing most managerial effort on how to control our employees.
What did we learn? Slogans are sometimes useful. Many organisations have been able to address this bleak period, thanks to some small pilot project done in the folds of their organisations, whether this was a Microsoft Teams experiment, a Slack trial or the sort of.
Rethinking Skills and starting to plan for a workforce transition was the third broad subject of the forecasts for 2020. For sure, a lot has happened. We spent most of this year trying to support managers in addressing a remote workforce. We have come to realise that many leadership traits that are useful in an office context, where arm’s length management rules, might be counterproductive in a distributed organisation.
What did we learn? Once more, if necessary, that competency models cooked in the ivory tower of some OD department, often do not resist the impact with reality. Some organisations had started to push for initiatives to model more resilience in the workforce, something we need to think more about as this situation has demonstrated. But resilience from a skills perspective means becoming less focused and increasing the breadth of skills we can rely upon.
Mental Health Awareness was another interesting trend mentioned, one that we got right. The pandemic has shown how the fabric of our society, so much based on jobs, status and networks of often ephemeral relationships, does not guarantee mental protection for many. Loneliness has become the mark of 2020 as a year. As we discuss the next holidays, probably with limited contacts with family and friends, we are also interrogating ourselves how much technology helps on this.
What did we learn? Mental Health is not just another fade of management interest, or a slogan to develop a new award category. It is the core element of being human and considering other human beings as part of our collective Common Good. For every organisation, this is not just an excellent action to do; it is a vital element for survival. Let’s build even more awareness around this, avoiding paternalistic solutions from the past.
What will be the trends for 2021? I will continue my collection of the most cited ones in the coming weeks. The point about trends, however, is not to plan a defined future, but to enable the sense-making engine of our organisations. That cycle of
Awareness ▶︎▶︎ Meaning ▶︎▶︎ Experimentation
that is at the core of the Intentional Organisation concept.
So, stop for one moment and thing, what did we learn as an organisation in 2020?
You might soon realise that what everybody defined an awful year, as probably been the most significant learning opportunity of the past decades.
2. My Latest Posts
The Road Not Taken is a poem by Robert Frost that looks at the inevitability of choices and the fact that everyone has…
The Tyranny of Merit is the latest book by Michael J. Sandel, an American Political Philosopher known for his address on the issue…
Curated News on Leadership is my ever-developing collection of articles and news on the topic of Leadership, that I collect through my readings…
3. Reading Suggestions
The past decade has brought enormous changes to our workplaces, gradually at first and then all at once. It's time to update our management thinking and tactics in response. #Leadership
Service jobs are particularly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and will probably take time to come back to a similar level. How do we reinvent entire industries, and resell so many workers for the future? #MeaningofWork
The real wage of non-college workers in the U.S. has grown by about 20 per cent since the 1980s, which is less than half of the growth in aggregate labour productivity. Why? This research sheds some light on this apparently paradoxical process. #MeaningofWork
In California one of the results of recent voting, is that Uber and other Gig Workers will not be classified as Employees. A big risk for the companies, but also poses a radical question on the employee-employer relationship. How will this change? #MeaningofWork
A mochi seller in Kyoto, and many of Japan’s other centuries-old businesses, have endured by putting tradition and stability over profit and growth.#OrgDesign
4. The (un) Intentional Organisation 😁
5. Keeping in Touch
Don’t hesitate to get in touch, either by responding to this newsletter directly, or by using the contact form on my blog.
I welcome any kind of feedback, both on this newsletter as well as, in general, on the content of my articles.
Find me also on: