Updated: Dec 21, 2020
In 2013 I signed my name to the credo of Change Agents Worldwide (CAWW), an organization of which I was a founding member. The credo, called the Declaration of Independents, began:
“My aim is to help liberate employees from the remnants of a bygone industrial era that encourages humans to assume robotic obedience and acquiescence to archaic power structures.”
The credo went on to say, “I want to forge a new standard for the working world that is progressive, free, networked, inclusive, and collectively intelligent, as well as compassionate.”
Change Agents Worldwide had evolved out of the Social Business movement that saw the power of social networking tools and the principles that drive the internet – transparency, authenticity, open communication, and trust – as a transformational force that could change the world of work, moving us out of the cold Industrial Age to a brighter, more egalitarian future. The equivalent of an Age of Enlightenment for business.
Much has changed since then. Corporate antibodies fought back and the movement stalled with only some gains. There are organizations that use social media tools effectively and have seen positive benefits in collaboration, knowledge sharing, and engagement, but it’s not widespread. Social tools alone can’t affect the kind of transformation we sought. Too much emphasis was placed on the tools and not the ideals in those early days of the Social Business craze.
CAWW sought to look beyond the tools and focus on the larger picture, exploring many different ways to advance organizations to that next evolutionary step. But it was still a struggle. The leap we were asking organizations to make was simply a bridge too far for that time.
Fast forward to 2018. Social media is under fire for exasperating divisions in society and decreasing real connections between people – the antithesis of what was originally envisioned. The big topic of the day is not Social Business but the “Future of Work” with “A.I.” playing a major part of that. The future seems to be approaching faster and faster and businesses are not ready. They can’t handle the rapid pace of change today, let alone what’s heading their way. The outlook, if you listen to the pundits, is scary.
Dreams of liberating employees now seems like a quaint idea when you’re looking at a possible future in which A.I. eliminates most jobs. Or is it?
What if the ideals of Change Agents Worldwide were ahead of its time?
What if the ever-increasing pressures companies face (accelerated change, shifting global trends) require radical new approaches to business?
What if the only way for organizations to survive and thrive in this future is to become more human, not less?
What if embracing the ideals in the credo is the answer to “what must the future of work become?”
I believe those ideals are more relevant today than ever. A.I. is not going away, but if we shift our organizations from industrial mindsets and models to those that are more humanized and based on principles of life, rather than machines, then we stand a better chance of assimilating A.I. successfully into organizations of the future rather than it assimilating us.
This blog will explore these ideas, as well as the impact of other trends that may impact the future of work and business.