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Business Books: The New Workforce Challenge | BBS library | Bizsum

The New Workforce Challenge

91260023In The New Workforce Challenge, Andrés Hatum aims to help companies meet the challenge of absorbing the technologically savvy millennial generation into the workforce at the very time that organizations are changing faster than ever before in response to the turbulence they face worldwide. Hatum examines how firms are organizing for the future, the impact of the new organizational forms on the workplace, and the practices that firms are putting into place to attract, develop, and retain the new generation of workers. Hatum believes that the workplace and workforce need to be analyzed together in order to present the big picture. By shedding light on recent changes that organizations have gone through and likely changes to come in the future, companies can better understand how to manage the new workforce.

finniIn his book, Hatum informs readers that:

  • Successful firms are adaptable and innovative; they combine changes in structure, such as decentralization, delayering, and project forms of organizing; processes, such as horizontal communication, investments in information technology, and new human resource (HR) practices; and firm boundaries, such as downscoping, outsourcing, and greater use of strategic alliances.
  • Agile and virtual firms will shape the marketplace and at the same time will influence and be influenced by the new workforce.
  • Heterogeneity and diversity characterize the new workforce and have replaced the previously homogeneous workforce.
  • Millennials, the generation born between 1979 and 1997, value work-life integration and a flexible workplace.
  • There are four main values that drive Millennials: multitasking, desire to integrate work and personal life, concern for society and the environment, and access to technology.
  • Companies’ are relying less on their brands to attract and retain employees and more on their Employee Value Propositions (EVPs), which consist of the features that allow companies to promote themselves outwardly and generate loyalty internally.
  • Millennial learning characteristics can be described with the acronym EPIC, which stands for: Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, and Connected.

The Practical Drucker

94776685Peter Drucker is often considered to be the “father of modern management.” For decades, the great business thinker produced dozens of books, articles, and lectures providing groundbreaking insight on leadership and organizational success. In The Practical Drucker, William H. Cohen distills the wisdom from the vast body of Drucker’s work into 40 succinct truths. Cohen provides readers with the necessary guidelines and examples to use these 40 truths to solve people, management, marketing, innovation, and organizational problems.

Peter Drucker’s work has played an essential role in shaping modern management. While many leaders wish to integrate more of Drucker’s wisdom into their performances, it is difficult to know where to start. William H. Cohen extracted the following practical touch-points from Drucker’s extensive work:

  • The responsibility of a leader is to protect and inspire others. Drucker believed that it was a leader’s ethical duty to keep others from harm and that an organization’s success comes from a leader’s ability to inspire and encourage employees.
  • People have no limits. Drucker felt that all people have the potential for success as long as they work hard at developing themselves.
  • Avoid doing what generated success in the past to achieve success in the future. When organizations hold on to the old products and business tactics that once made them successful, they are unable to evolve with the changing times, and will eventually fail.
  • Good management requires leaders to take problems head on. Whether it is office politics or a pending organization-wide crisis, Drucker recommended that managers identify every problem they are faced with and take positive action immediately.
  • Only irrational marketers believe there are irrational customers. Drucker argued that marketers who label their customers as “irrational” because of their purchasing decisions do not understand what their customers value.
  • Some of the best innovation comes from “unexpected” circumstances. Drucker believed that strange events and trends were some of the best places for organizations to find innovation opportunities.
  • The purpose of a business is not to make a profit. Too many organizations focus on profit when they should be focusing on the true purpose of the business, which Drucker argued was to create customers.
  • The two most important organizational functions are marketing and innovation. Organizations must always be creating new products that customers actually want to buy.

Flat Army

Flat ArmyStudies show that the majority of workers to be disengaged from their work and their organizations. To truly engage employees, Dan Pontefract believes companies need to adopt a “Flat Army Philosophy.” In his book Flat Army, Pontefract argues that leaders need to surrender command and control in favor of a more open and inclusive style of leadership. When they seek out authentic connections with their teams and come to understand work as an important but not existential endeavor, these leaders become truly connected and therefore profoundly effective. Such connected leaders make ample use of social media and other technologies to deepen connections across their organizations. The result is a self-generating, perpetually learning, dynamically balanced enterprise that is a pleasure both to lead and to work for.

According to Pontefract:

  • Employees are generally disengaged from the work they do and the organizations for which they do it. Work disengagement springs from the traditional hierarchical style of management that views workers as the “brawn” to managements “brains.”
  • The historical roots of employee disengagement stem from the British charter companies of the 16th century, the European armies of the 18th century, and the Scientific Management ideas that shaped American companies in the late 19th century.
  • “Connected leaders” break down traditional hierarchy in favor of a flat organizational structure. They treat employees as complete human beings and connections are encouraged across all levels and work areas.
  • The connected leader trusts their employees, involves and empowers them, empathizes with them, and helps them develop their careers. A key aspect of all of these traits is consistent and open communications with all team members.
  • The traits of the connected leader begin as behaviors that they must practice and exercise daily until they are habit. Eventually, the connected leader moves beyond merely practicing these attributes to truly living them.
  • Participative leadership requires continual, authentic, and reciprocal interactions with team members and the leader’s wider internal and external network. Education is a key component of the Participative Leader Framework and must be practiced consciously and formally.
  • The “Action Model” for the collaborative, or connected-participative, leader begins with connecting to all stakeholders and weighing their input. Next, the model calls for the leader to communicate a plan of action to all stakeholders, and then become immersed in executing that plan. The leader confirms with stakeholders that they are satisfied with the result and then congratulates all involved by focusing on the behaviors they brought to the project to make it successful.
  • To truly benefit from the Flat Army philosophy, one must embrace Web 2.0 technologies for conversation, education, and network presence

The Social Organization

The Social OrganizationWhile increasing numbers of organizations are investing in social media technology, few are successfully using it to create value through mass collaboration. In The Social Organization, social media experts Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald explain how firms can leverage these tools to innovate and solve problems faster and better than traditional companies. The authors provide frameworks and proven techniques that any manager can apply to rally people around a collective purpose; launch an effective collaborative environment; guide collaboration toward meaningful goals; and adapt internal culture and systems to support collaboration as it evolves and helps the organization outperform the competition.

Social media can be used by any organization to enable mass collaboration. But “social organizations” are ahead of all others in ensuring that collaboration delivers value and creates a competitive edge. Becoming a social organization involves the following actions and priorities:

  1. At the heart of a social organization is not social media technology itself but the mass collaboration it enables. Mass collaborative efforts succeed by enlisting the interests, knowledge, talent, and experience of all stakeholders in pursuing shared goals and creating value.
  2. Social media efforts rarely succeed without management guidance and support. Too much management involvement can stifle collaboration, but too little creates significant risk that the initiative will lose its focus and its alignment with organizational strategy.
  3. Becoming a social organization begins with a vision statement. A vision statement serves two purposes: it articulates leadership’s belief in the value of collaboration, and it identifies specific opportunities where collaboration can add value to the firm.
  4. Organizations need a community collaboration strategy to guide their social media priorities and investment decisions. A strategy should identify which collaborative communities the organization sanctions, when and how it will support them, what behaviors will be encouraged, and what benefits the organization expects to receive from the collaboration effort.
  5. In addition to planning and supporting collaborative efforts in general, organizations need to cultivate the individual communities that make up their collaboration portfolios. Cultivating a community requires specification of its purpose and a business justification that identifies its benefits and costs.
  6. While too much interference from above can stifle collaboration, appropriate management guidance is essential to creating a sustainable social organization. Managers must ensure that collaboration works productively, that participants stay focused on its purpose, and that the organization’s broader systems and functions support the collaborative effort.
  7. Effective managers guide the collaborative community based on its purpose, progress, and direction. To provide appropriate guidance, managers should view the community as a group, track progress toward its purpose, continually assess the value of its purpose to the organization, and seek new, high-potential purposes.
  8. By adapting processes and power structures to the needs of the collaborative community, managers make the organization safe for mass collaboration. A social organization is safe for collaboration when all stakeholders recognize its value and potential and all functions are aligned to support it.


A Culture of Purpose

A Culture of PurposeIn A Culture of Purpose, Christoph Lueneburger relates how leadership today faces the complex task of building a culture of purpose to power organizations. Pursuing a purpose rooted in commercial success is one of the best ways to plant such a culture in a corporation. A company’s purpose should be bigger than the bottom line. Leadership needs to poses the right combination of competencies, including change leadership, influencing, and commercial drive. Hiring talent that has innate determination, insight, and curiosity will help spread the culture of purpose throughout the organization. Such a winning culture can be cultivated further by imbuing the company with energy, resilience, and openness.

Lueneburger provides readers with the following advice:

  • Leaders with a purpose sit at the core of any culture of purpose. They should be adept at change management, especially when first developing the foundation of a culture of purpose. They should also have the ability to influence others when initiatives begin.
  • As purpose reaches all corners of the organization, leaders who have developed a strong commercial drive coupled with the practical skills to achieve measurable results become central.
  • Hiring the right talent is the only way to perpetuate a culture of purpose over the long haul. Although employees can be helped to develop competence over time, they arrive with certain innate traits that are more or less useful in the journey toward a culture of purpose. Fortunately, candidates with the right traits are naturally drawn to companies pursuing cultures of purpose.
  • Everyone in the organization should have innate curiosity, so all new hires should demonstrate this trait. With curiosity can come insight, or gut instincts that go beyond the data. Determined people are more difficult to manage, but determination is the trait that will help a company power through difficult stages in building a culture of purpose.
  • A robust culture of purpose has energy, resilience, and openness. A common purpose provides initial energy while trust developed through honest and abundant communication ensures resilience. Openness to all stakeholder voices, including critics from the outside, will sustain the organization.
  • Sustainability should not be a drag on commercial performance but a positive goal that imbues the culture of a company with energy and purpose. By moving sustainability from a distracting item on the margins to the very center of the corporate culture, leaders can build winning organizations that stand up to challenges and thrive.

Mindfulness at Work

Mindfulness at WorkThe professional world is characterized by high levels of stress, discontentment, and burnout. Individuals spend their entire lives laboring in their chosen professions, and the joyless attitudes that define much of the modern approach to work produces palpably unpleasant results. Spurred by the prevalence of mindless misery in the workplace, Dr. Stephen McKenzie penned Mindfulness at Work in an attempt to introduce the meditative discipline of mindfulness to today’s modern professionals. By offering helpful tips on integrating mindfulness practices into people’s everyday jobs, Dr. McKenzie explores how forging meaningful connections results in positive health benefits, increased job satisfaction, and improved performance.

According to the authors:

  • Leadership is highly valued in the workplace, but a precise definition can be difficult to identify. Mindful leadership is characterized by true engagement with others and the realization of collective goals rather than self-interest and power-centric objectives.
  • Individuals generally pick professions and stick to them for their entire working lives. This can often seem like a prison sentence, but by incorporating mindfulness principles into their professional activities, individuals can transform their outlooks and increase their personal satisfaction.
  • Professional relationships can be hard to manage; therefore, leaders must place relational perspectives around mindful principles to find common ground and work for a common good.
  • Creativity is a frequently used buzzword in the workplace, but it is often seen as elusive and difficult to capture within the parameters of a job description. Mindful professionals can heighten their creative output by simply letting go of whatever is stopping them.
  • Many job-related tasks can seem monotonous and frustrating, but by engaging with the tasks at hand and shedding previous notions of their characteristics, mindful professionals can find deep enjoyment in even the most mundane chores.
  • All industries can benefit from a healthy dose of mindfulness, but some professions in particular can see very specific results, including those in healthcare, law, education, sales, and the arts.

Creativity at Work

Creativity at WorkIn Creativity at Work, Ros Taylor shares the results of 100 interviews and a formal poll of 1,000 working people in the UK. Taylor sought to discover what happens every day as customers and markets change and how that relates to the role of creativity in a successful workplace. The results uncover myths about the type of people who are creative and help explain how creativity can be used in any work environment. Organizations that want to be viewed as innovative must make room for creative ideas because the two concepts go together. When a business understands the value of creativity at work, it must also recognize that everyone has the capacity to be creative.

Taylor provides the following tips concerning creativity in the workplace:

  • There are misconceptions about what it means to be creative at work. Many people falsely believe that creativity is something found only in certain professions and is not necessarily available to those in more traditional office roles. On the contrary, creativity can be used and is valuable in any work environment.
  • People can train their brains to learn new ways to make decisions, and there are different theories about how these processes work. The way one thinks and forms ideas can be changed with practical exercises that are applicable to the workplace.
  • A culture of creativity is something that can be fostered, even in companies that have not been creative in the past. Companies that view creativity as important can change their cultures as managers lead the way and employees follow.
  • Creativity is not something that only happens at certain times and to certain types of people. It is something people can learn how to use more frequently, and techniques can help make creativity part of one’s everyday process.


The Innovator’s Path

The Innovator's PathIn today’s complex, global business landscape, continuous innovation is the key to establishing and maintaining competitive advantage, but it takes more than good ideas to create and win support for meaningful, ongoing change. Madge Meyer explains eight disciplines that are at the heart of effective innovation: Listen, Lead, Position, Promote, Connect, Commit, Execute, and Evolve. In The Innovator’s Path, Meyer provides practical strategies and proven techniques to unlock the power of these disciplines, delivering value to customers while creating a culture that welcomes experimentation and celebrates progress.

Meyer’s  eight-discipline framework for facilitating and fueling innovation consists of the following actions:

  1. Listen. There is a major difference between simply hearing customers, coworkers, and other stakeholders, and actually listening to them. Individuals and companies have an advantage when they pay careful, respectful attention to what others have to say.
  2. Lead. A leader need not be a top executive or manager. Leaders at any level can inspire others to top performance with their vision, passion, personal integrity, and high expectations.
  3. Position. Innovation requires a clear vision for the future and a roadmap for achieving it. Developing this future orientation and strategic direction positions the organization to take advantage of new opportunities.
  4. Promote. Innovation leaders can never assume that others know or understand the importance of their work. They must continually communicate their ideas and accomplishments in terms of business value, like augmented savings or revenue.
  5. Connect. Establishing, nurturing, and maintaining a relationship between individuals and among teams is a key responsibility for every innovation leader.
  6. Commit. Individuals, teams, and organizations commit to innovation when they actively encourage new ideas and demonstrate a willingness to take calculated risks.
  7. Execute. Innovation teams and organizations should formalize processes, like change management reviews, that maximize value delivery while minimizing risks.
  8. Evolve. In innovative cultures, individuals and teams are encouraged to continually reexamine solutions. They are challenged to do better — and rewarded accordingly. Ultimately, this approach instills the idea of “innovation-as-usual.”


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Related book summaries in the BBS library: Keeping the Millennials, Managing the Millennials, The Trophy Kids Grow Up

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