My colleague Jane Hart writes that, “supporting social collaboration is underpinned not only by new technologies but by a new mindset“.
Perpetual Beta is my attitude toward learning and work – I’ll never get to the final release and my learning will never stabilise. I’ve realized that clients and colleagues with a similar attitude are much easier to work with than those who believe that we will reach some future point where everything stabilizes and we don’t need to learn or do anything else. I think this point is called death. Perpetual Beta is pretty well an artist’s perspective, always seeking a new creative endeavour and not just producing the same work over and over. As industrial and even some knowledge work gets automated and outsourced, adapting to an economic life in perpetual Beta may soon become the norm.
With 2 billion people connected by the Internet, we are entering a post-industrial Network Era. Effective knowledge networks are composed of unique individuals working on common challenges, together for a discrete period of time before the network shifts its focus again. We are moving from a “one size fits all” attitude on work and learning to an “everyone is unique” perspective. The network enables infinite combinations between unique nodes. For example, better connections enabled a high school student to create a better cancer diagnostic tool. We will see many more of these connected discoveries in the network era. Also, in a networked world, where everyone is unique, there is little need for generic work processes (jobs, roles, occupations) and no need for standard curricula. Institutions, and mindsets, will collapse.
The real challenge to be productive in this new networked workplace will be an attitude shift. In the near future, organizations may no longer be concerned if you work a full shift or are spending time at your work space. Compensation may become focused not just on results but creative solutions. The core work attitude may be creativity, as in “what have you done that’s different?”. Artists think about the impossible, as Hugh Macleod shows:
About one hundred years ago we moved from morality as our core behaviour, to responsibility, as workers left their agrarian communities, where your word was your bond, and became reliable factory workers instead. Are we now shifting from responsibility to creativity? If we are, then most of our organizational tools and measurements about productivity may be obsolete, as well as our mindsets about work and learning. Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, the MFA will become the new MBA.