scaffolding the corporation for the 2030

in still many corporations, young arrivals would, after a time, come to realise that the only way to make a career is to work up the ladder towards management. Yet not everybody can be or ought to be a manager. This is not new hence unfortunately many who today are shouldn’t be.

In the down of AI, many jobs that today still exist and busy thousands of people, (e.g. moving data from one excel sheet to another, from one database to another) will be one day no more. When a text line will suffice for AI to do all we need with data. And those people who have been shifting cells and making graphs for the last fifteen years won’t have it easy to still be able to add value to their organisations. Yet we find them in ageing swarms in our offices nowadays.

At the same time, we loose young talent because they see no ladder other than the management one. But eventually they would see themselves fitting in the role of an specialist, however no career scheme is today set for those.

Come the time of AI, will be those specialists who will be able to add value to their organisations, and will be those we regrettably miss, and even more regrettably we let go of them when we could have kept them, and grow them inside and in time.

Now more urgently than ever it is time to build the scaffolding of what our organisations will be in 2030. Otherwise we will find ourselves where now traditional banks start to find themselves: rapidly rendered inefficient by FinTech.

A career path moving toward specialisation that will grow towards mastery and end in a position not of management, but of organisation core competences, strategic growth and newcomers nurturance for a new generation of mastery.

This builds into an organisation with less people but more specialised and thus expensive people. Yet those organisations who choose to save money on their people and not foster specialisation, will soon have to close entire divisions out of asphyxia and with a high social cost. Still we have time to make a choice for the future, foster talent and be agile.

marshes corp.

The increasingly complex environment of today’s business life, together with the economical growth of the last years, has set the grounds for an unprecedented demand of middle managers in advanced countries. These have to be either recruited outside the corporation, with uncertain results and risk, grown inside (but it takes time), or in many cases picked up from the staff as being hopefully the least bad choice.

This poor fellow finds himself in a tight spot and in most cases it will quickly evolve into a blockade to the bottom and a desperate run upwards before the mess becomes too obvious. Thus leaving a trail of demotivation, bad decisions, and desolation.

In any corporation level there are four possible states where people will find themselves. The person itself can be either ambitious (fire) or calm (water). The environment can be a blockade (earth) or supportive (air). 

An ambitious person in a supportive environment will become a rocket and will make good use of her fire through the air. Yet in a blockade environment will burn like charcoal. A calm person in a blockade environment will find her way to survive and do as good a job as possible like a battleship entangled in marshes. Yet in a supportive environment she will roam the seas and be the launch basis for her colleagues, the rockets.

skimming the fatty thick layer of management

in the last decades, secretary jobs like taking dictation, transcribing, or calendar up keeping among others, have been displaced by technological advances in personal computers. Today we envision a future where yet more assistance will be provided by AI.

But often the future does not stick to our plans. Same as we still wear jeans and shirts and not synthetic suits like Captain Kirk, it may as well be that the future will choose its own avenue. I do not mean AI will not disrupt our work environment, or even send us one day all home to read books, play computer games and drink coffee all day long. But other changes may come along or even before that, that we would never have thought of.

Companies and corporations of all sizes have some things in common: they all have entrepreneurs and visionaries, experts, and the power house… and middle managers. I envision a future where new advances in technology will free us from the middle management; the thick fatty layer between and around the power house that dampens vision and passion coming in, and power coming out.

Maybe the blockchain will become an effective Agile/SCRUM backbone that will enhance a direct link between the top and the bottom, maybe graph-databases will give raise to the neuronal corporation, maybe something else.

the collateral of offer and demand

The underlying mechanism of offer and demand certainly brings to society ever better value for less cost. We tap at the ingenuity of entrepreneurs and engineers to reach ever more efficient ways to produce utility, convenience, and comfort.

By its nature, the offer is usually consolidated in the hands of a few groups, where demand is distributed and not organised. Accordingly, the sole driving force of the demand is to receive more (perceived) value for less cost. In response to this behaviour, the offer has a few ways to produce ever more appealing products and services:

  • first by using ingenuity,
  • secondly by creating a higher perceived value of a not so intrinsically valuable good
  • and thirdly by abusing of surrounding environmental elements.

The first way is basically what I would tag as technological progress. The second, marketing excellence and the third pillage: the surroundings are there for the grabs! And often only protected by the integrity of entrepreneurs and engineers, alas not always.

Once ingenuity reach its limits as per the technological and scientific knowledge base of the present time, and products’ perceived value do not let be inflated any longer, it is only logical that entrepreneurs and engineers will find ways to resource to abusing the surroundings. Surroundings being several possible entities: environment, nature, minority groups, neighbours…

Looking at the newspapers we can see, now and then, portrayed cases of such third way. For instance the recent VW emissions issue or the damaging pesticides for bees.

What it is left for us all to consider is how can we exercise our freedom of choice in a way that keeps the pillagers on check. In our role as demand, yet distributed and uncoordinated, we are responsible of our actions and their consequences; Being able to discern within those products and services that trespass to pillage ought to be our ultimate aim.

the utility attitude axis

In the space of people characterisation, there is an axis I name it the utility attitude axis.

In the region around zero, people are followers. The more you move towards the, say positive direction, people tend to be more creative and not only follow but also feedback or adventure in small endeavors.

Emerging from the followers section you enter the creatives. Those are types of people who create new ways to do things, often inspired by those people in the far end of the axis;  entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Moving back from zero towards the negative direction of the axis, you would have those people who are followers but sometimes lag a bit behind. And even further, those who are not able to follow and will proceed undisturbed all along a direction that, at some point in their lives, was set.

If you allow me an analogy, imagine the entrepreneurs and visionaries as scouts ahead of the way, the creatives making the path, the followers improving it, following it, following it a bit askew on the bushes along the side of the path, and finally the bromides moving outwards in a tangential escape line.

Now, any group or Organisation should see that is made of a balanced number of members with respect to their attitude—I do not mean skills here, but attitudes. You want to have a few visionaries, some more creatives, and the bulk of followers. Ultimately, no deadheads.