"Job is dead. Long live work"
With over 20 years of experience in business change and technology, organisational development and talent, Perry founded his own enterprise PTHR (People & Transformational HR) in 2012, aiming to transform learning and work by bringing the soul back into our working lives. A tenacious reader; enthusiastic networker and voracious learner, he was voted a Top 10 blogger in both international and UK magazines, Perry describes himself as a lifeaholic, determined to change the world of work one conversation at a time. He visited Slovenia in December for a Competo event, where he inspired more than 300 managers and gave this exclusive interview to The Slovenia Times.
According to the International Labour Organisation, 500 million new jobs will need to be created by 2020. What are your predictions?
The system we currently have for jobs is based on the mechanical and industrial model, yet we operate virtually and digitally. We therefore need something other than the current constructs and that requires letting go of the old. New jobs will come through a systemic change and attitude to life. We change the way we look at jobs (full time, 8 hours a day) and we change the terms unemployed and job seeker. Networked people will be the company of the future. HR will be like the orchestral conductor of a multitude of human inputs - the HR professional of the future will educate and liberate, not regulate and legislate.
There will be new jobs in digital, adult social care and assisted living with an ageing population, in education and skills for children, young adults and re-skilling adults; green energy; eco-farming; urban and rural regeneration; entrepreneurial and start-up marketplaces; the market community / crafts.
In your TEDxBucharest talk, you spoke about the shift from jobs to work. Why?
I believe that work will always be needed. It is the construct of a job to do the work that is now being brought into question. If we can work without the need for a job, a job description and all the other made-up things we have put into this equation, then we can work specifically on assignment to assignment. Even if we have permanency in a company, we may be so fluid and adaptable, opportunistic and creative, that a job and its boundaries would restrict us. So, I believe we will see more work that is the subject of a market place.
We bid for work, we join teams doing great work and this is where our energy becomes more noticeable and powerful. With allocated work, we are doing so with friction and some reluctance. So the self-organised movement leads the way here. Instead of allocation, work is collected by workers. Even the tasks not many people like can be done through a sense of commitment and duty and not forced or delegated. So jobs - in the current sense - will cease to be a measure. Work-active; economically participative and the application of skills to work could well become the new measures.
How will this reinvention of work influence our lives as individuals and what does it mean for big corporations, for managers?
Big corporations will not simply vaporise, they will be increasingly more virtual and flexible. Big companies may become more like cities themselves: made up of a looser collection of people; specialities; physical and intellectual properties and capabilities - be more about a collective and not a conglomerate.
Managers are a scientific technology of 20th century industrialisation. Leaders are the more advanced product of the emotive side of work. Managers will become increasingly unnecessary as seen in the world of self-managed teams. The role of coach, mentor, caring partner, learning partner, advisor, galvaniser, and facilitator will be seen as more powerful ways of applying some experience, wisdom, skill and empathy. So managers will morph into team coaches and scrum masters. Leaders will be all those with the intent, application and stamina to help others with direction and inspiration.
How will digitalisation change the nature of work?
So many tasks can be automated and so much can be miniaturised or programmed into machine routines that in 25 years time - maybe even 15 years time - we will wonder why we spent so much time holding on to work that is routine, repetitive, mundane and so on. We will see many activities become invisible to us and we will use this abundance of time to turn ourselves to more cognitively challenging, humane and complex working ways.