Preparing for the future of work: building intent

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The world of work is changing and we are in the middle of a paradigm shift where creativity, collaboration and the ability to co-create solutions for complex problems are sought after expertise.

A recent event at our Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) about the role of learning in the future of work sparked a fascination in me about motivation, management and career progression. I’ve found myself reading and listening to podcasts about all kinds of topics that seem unrelated, yet when I dive deeper, they all come back to the same thing; the world of work is changing and we are (I believe) in the middle of a paradigm shift towards a future that will be scary for some, and immensely exciting for others.

Here are a few snippets of data points I’ve found particularly interesting;

  • The top skill searched for on LinkedIn in Jan 2019 was creativity (Reskilling the Workforce, Gartner, 2019)
  • Collaboration and a Passion for learning are two of the top 10 ‘digital skills’ sought by organisations (Capgemini Digital Talent Gap

Couple this with a knowledge that

  • Employees are motivated intrinsically much more than any extrinsic incentive a manager can give them. This means the desire to do something because of their own internal reward such as learning something new, seeing personal progress or feeling you’ve solved a problem (as examples) are more impactful on motivation than money (Unsafe Thinking)
  • Setbacks in the form of blockers / barriers to progress are one of the biggest demotivators. A manager should focus on removing these blockers to their employee’s work, to help maintain flow (The Progress Principle)

So, what does this have to do with the ASE?

Besides the necessary commitment to looking after our own people, ensuring the team has managers that understand intrinsic motivation, and the ability to marry organisational needs with growth opportunities and rewards, where I’ve particularly pondered this, is in our events for clients. We often refer to the Creative Process model within our event design and I’ve found myself coming back again and again to this model. Briefly, the model illustrates that before we can build a solution for a problem, we must first of all have an identity (why we exist), a vision (how will we work in the future) and intent (are we excited yet?).

Intent is where I ponder in an event scenario; it is often the piece our sponsors want to skip over. It is obvious to them (they already have the intent) and will soak up precious ‘building the solution’ time. Knowing what we know about the problem to solve, the people ‘on the bus’ to solve it and how they are motivated, how do we ensure the necessary investment to create intrinsic intent amongst our participants? Often in the UK centre we give people time to contemplate what the future looks like, allowing them to have time to reflect and build that excitement for themselves. We then give them time to share and build out the meaning more collaboratively, underpinned with ‘what does it mean for me’.

How much ‘intrinsic motivation’ does this really create? The proof is in the actions and momentum that’s maintained post event, and this is enabled largely by the organisation’s leader’s commitment to the outcomes; creating the conditions that mean people can continue to progress the work they started (with intent) and removing blockers to progress.

This requires a concise effort from the leadership team and often they are ill-prepared for the volume of work following an ASE engagement. That’s one reason why we’ve evolved our services to deliver ASE capability outside of an event format; where clients can now access facilitation, design and visualisation expertise to (for example) run sprints or more effective ‘kick offs’ following an event. So far, we know this work is rapidly accelerating project outcomes and change.

I believe now is a fascinating and exciting time to be in business, both as a manager having to think about how we change our styles, habits and paradigms and as people entering the workforce for the first time. Creativity, collaboration and the ability to co-create solutions for complex problems are sough after expertise. Luckily for the ASE, we can continue to develop and evolve our services to meet the changing complex nature of our environment.

What about you? Do you rely on traditional ways to motivate your teams or do you work with them to understand and help unlock intrinsic motivation? Do you co-create your vision and goals and give your teams the time, space and resources to follow them? In what ways do you remove blockers and commit to long term team development and progression?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!



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