When it comes to our work, wouldn’t we all be happier and more motivated if we were given the freedom to chose what we do, how we do it, when we do it and who we work with? What does having autonomy at work mean to you and where’s the sweet spot?
Special thanks to Daniel Pink for inspiring me to doodle this in my moleskin this morning. I’m half way through his new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and the “4 T’s” he discusses in the context of autonomy has got my brain buzzing. I thought the sketch I did was worth translating to powerpoint for a discssion this morning.
This makes me wonder if the desire to get to that red dot sweet spot is the very essence of what drives people to become entrepreneurs. What do you think?
I spent a couple of happy, quiet hours last night with my nose in Pamela Slim‘s book Escape from Cubicle Nation. She makes some powerful arguments for why passion is a necessary ingredient to a happy work life. This well worded bit of wisdom stood out:
“What many people don’t realize is that when you force yourself to do something you don’t want to do, you have to deplete the energy from your body to do it. When you make it through a week where you have forced yourself to do work you don’t enjoy, you will feel exhausted, drained, and in need of martinis, industrial-strength aspirin, and/or face-planted-in-pillow rest.”
“When you do things you love, your body generates energy naturally. You may work an equal number of hours, or more, than when doing work you don’t enjoy, but the difference is you will feel spent, not depleted.”
You can’t really say it better than that, can you?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? There are a lot of people out there right now who’ve had the question thrust upon them when they weren’t ready. What would you do? Would you seek another job just like the one you had because it’s easy, familiar and safe? Or would you go and do the things that you’ve always wanted to do because they matter to you?
There’s been a strong surge in the pro-entrepreneurship movement this year urging individuals and organizations to focus on making a difference. People are starting to see how participating in the culture of entrepreneurship and doing things and working on problems that add value not only gives them a sense of fulfillment in their lives, it improves society overall. The great shaking out we’re all experiencing right now is producing new thoughts and solutions on how to go about doing what we do and finding meaning in our lives. Some call it “The New Entrepreneurship“, or “awesomeness” and some simply call it “working on stuff that matters“.
What would you do tomorrow if you were laid off today? Would you change the world?
Now that we’ve got the technology to connect in real time, 24/7 to anyone with an internet connection, more and more organizations are reaching out across the globe to find the very best people they can to get things done. Likewise, people with talent are collaborating with teams remotely and seeking meaningful work across the globe. Technology and the web are giving people and organizations an unprecedented amount of access to ideas, education and each other. The question is…are you ready to embrace these trends and adapt?
The following presentation “The Future Of Work” was shared by Jeff Brenman. It’s designed to be read and offers a quick, visual overview of trends we can expect that are changing how we’ll work and compete for jobs in the coming years. Here are some of the trends -
Individuals will have more power and freedom than ever before
Informal education is more available and accessible via the web. Degrees will matter less.
There’s no longer an excuse to “not know how”. Self-teaching and resourcefulness will be make-or-break skills.
The future of work is flat – You’ll work with project teams around the world.
Employers will have on-demand access to a larger and more skilled workforce. Competition for jobs and work will no longer be tied to where you live.
Transparency in work history and performance feedback will become the new resume.
Better tools will continue to revolutionize productivity management/measurement.
Your earning potential will be based on merit, not location.
To stay employed in the workplace of the future, you’ll have to work hard to stand out.
No one is going to guarantee you a lifetime career. Accept it and adapt.
Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think and business as usual needs a new system of operating that’s more closely aligned with human nature. That’s Dan Pinks argument in a nutshell, and I think his case is strong. For those of you with some time, I’d highly recommend watching the full video. For those of you with only a few minutes, I’ve highlighted some of the main takeaways below. Enjoy.
The Three Elements Of The New Operating System
In this TED talk, Dan argues that there’s a mismatch between what scientists know about motivation and how businesses today reward their workers, and that if we look closely at the data gathered from studies on what truly motivates people it’s clear that we need a new paradigm. Here are some of the best nuggets…He says:
“…too many organizations are making their decisions, their policies about talent and people, based on assumptions that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science…if we really want high performance on those definitional (cognitive) tasks of the 21st century, the solution is not to do more of the wrong things. To entice people with a sweeter carrot, or threaten them with a sharper stick. We need a whole new approach
….the scientists who’ve been studying motivation have given us this new approach. It’s an approach built much more around intrinsic motivation. Around the desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they’re interesting, because they are part of something important. And to my mind, that new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
(1.) Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives.
(2.) Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters.
(3.) Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.”
After presenting the findings of studies performed by leading scientists and economists at the London School of Economics, Dan sites some examples of how this new work paradigm is being put into practice in leading firms:
Worker Autonomy, 20 Percent Time and Innovation
“20 Percent Time…Done, famously, at Google. Where engineers can spend 20 percent of their time working on anything they want. They have autonomy over their time, their task, their team, their technique. Okay? Radical amounts of autonomy, And at Google, as many of you know, about half of the new products in a typical year are birthed during that 20 Percent Time. Things like Gmail, Orkut, Google News.”
Results Only Work Environments (ROWE)
“…an even more radical example…something called the Results Only Work Environment. The ROWE. Created by two American consultants, in place at about a dozen companies around North America. In a ROWE people don’t have schedules. They show up when they want. They don’t have to be in the office at a certain time, or any time. They just have to get their work done. How they do it, when they do it, where they do it, is totally up to them. Meetings in these kinds of environments are optional.”
What happens? Almost across the board, productivity goes up, worker engagement goes up, worker satisfaction goes up, turnover goes down.
I came across this awesome 128 slide presentation from the CEO of Netflix today (below). The presentation is meant to be read, rather than presented and offers a quick-fire reference guide on the values, behaviors and skills Netflix upholds in the effort to create a culture of freedom and responsibility for their business. Regardless of your position in your current organization, these slides are worth spending some time absorbing – they represent a massive (and necessary) shift from the values and thinking that define rigid cultures of control and process adherence to those that create cultures that set the appropriate context for workers to form nimble, effective teams who constantly innovate, share ideas and challenge and learn from one another. At it’s core this new cultural framework requires a simultaneous top-down and bottom-up infusion of values. Making it work is about getting managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people, as well as about building teams of self motivating, self-aware, self disciplined, self improving people who take ownership and responsibility and are willing to work cross functionally when challenges arise.
The full presentation is embedded below for you to flip through. I’ve included a break down of the 9 behaviors and skills that the company highlights as most important to their culture:
You make wise decisions (people, technical business and creative) despite ambiguity
You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do.
You smartly separate what must be done well no, and what can be improved later.
You listen well, instead of reacting fast, so you can better understand
You are concise and articulate in speech and writing.
You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
You maintain calm poise in stressful situations
You accomplish amazing amounts of important work.
You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you.
You focus on great results rather than on process.
You exhibit bias-t0-action, and avoid analysis paralysis.
You learn rapidly and eagerly
You seek to understand our strategy, market, subscribers, and suppliers (factors that impact the business and customer experience)
You are broadly knowledgeable about business, technology and entertainment (you understand the various contexts the business operates under and the interplay between them)
You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
You re-conceptualize issues to discover practical solutions to hard problems
You challenge prevailing assumptions when warranted, and suggest better approaches
You create new ideas that prove useful
You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify
You say what you think even if it is controversial
You make tough decisions without excessive agonizing
You take smart risks
You question actions inconsistent with our values
You inspire others with you thirst for excellence
You care intensely about Netflix’s success
You celebrate wins
You are tenacious
You are known for candor and directness
You are non-political when you disagree with others
You only say things about fellow employees you will say to their face
You are quick to admit mistakes
You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than best for yourself or your group
You are ego-less when searching for the best ideas