The old saying tells us that “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Certainly, 2020 has seen many millions of people using new tools and new ways of working that they might never have tried if it had not been for the pandemic. For those of us who have been trying to encourage people for years to move to cloudworking, that has to be a good thing, right? Well, yes and no…
The truth is that for many people, the experiences they’ve had over the last few months in this new world – a world of of video meetings, online file storage, chat-based communication and collaborative working – has been less than optimal. As I see it, there’s a real danger that many of these people would go back to their old and more familiar ways of working if they could. And some of the firms they work for might allow this to happen. Smart organizations, however, realise that the world has changed, and are responding to and even embracing that change. After all, as US General Eric Shinseki was fond of saying to his commanders, “if you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more”.
“If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” — General Eric Shinseki
The reality is that the genie is out of the bottle and isn’t going back. Smart organizations realise this and are adapting to new ways of working. The ones that make a success of this transition understand that it’s not enough to simply provide new tools and leave people to figure it out. Smartworking is a culture, not a toolkit, and cultures take time – sometimes a long time – to become so established that they are the very DNA of an organization. Fundamentally, as with so many things, success depends on the calibre of leadership.
Whether or not your organization displays that kind of leadership, there are skills we can each develop to help us achieve fluency in the new ways of working. Why do that? Well one day – and because of the pandemic this may be sooner than we thought – all work will be like this, and you’ll be expected to be able to contribute anywhere, anytime and on any device. It’s not necessary in every sector – yet – to have these skills, but over time, those who have them will replace those who don’t.
Essential skills for modern working
For more than a decade, I’ve been helping individuals and organizations acquire cloudworking skills. In that time, I’ve identified a number of key themes which are always present. In a sense, these are the ‘Reading, Writing and Arithmetic’ of the 21st century, and over the next few posts I’ll be looking at them each in more detail.