“In the knowledge economy all staff are volunteers, but our managers are trained to manage conscripts” Peter Drucker
I've been thinking about this quote ever since I read it over at Johnnie's place. I did a webinar the other day about social technologies, and there were a number of HR professionals on the call. The discussion turned to how employers might best attract and retain talent in the connected world. The point was made about the need for companies to resist the temptation to impose too many controls on employees in their use of such tools, and how many bright young things have a level of expectation about the use of such technologies in everything they do (including their work).
But it felt like there was a big point that was in danger of being missed – that corporates have already become far more transparent to everyone, prospective employees included, whether they like it or not. A networked world creates choice and leverage for individuals. It's easier than ever to find inspiration, start something interesting. The barriers to entry have never been so low. My sense is that talented young people coming onto the job market for the first time have a very real sense of their connectedness and the possibilities that that enables.
So the question should not be about which organisations 'allow' the use of such technologies, but rather which are the ones where the employees are visibly empowered by them. The awful state of the current job market allows organisations the luxury of choice, but for how long? As Hugh MacLeod rightly said the market for something to believe in is infinite. And this, to quote Seth, is "where the real truth lies, where growth occurs regardless of the state of the economy". My hunch is that when we come out the other side the future will belong to those companies that are visibly driven not only by a strong sense of purpose and a culture of transparency, but empowered and connected employees.