Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

The OD Practitioner of the Future

Posted: January 27, 2017 by Matthew Hanwell in Change, Human Resources, OD, Technology, Uncategorized


Blog Post by: Ian Gee

Carole and I have written a series of blogs about how Tech, HR and otherwise, is changing the nature of the workplace and the impact this is likely to have on the practice of OD.  This has included looking at Utopias and Dystopias, how OD practitioners might engage with Tech and exploring how we might make use of AR/VR, AI and gamification to drive and support OD and change.  For me this all raises the question of what skills, capabilities, attitudes and behaviours OD practitioners need in order to be successful in the future?

If you do a web search, you will find numerous articles and blog posts about the future of OD.  But not a lot about the skills, attitudes and beliefs OD practitioners need in order to be effective in this future.  Many of the articles express the need for a shift from the humanistic and behavioural science origins of OD, to a more pragmatic understanding of the changing world of business and organisation. There was nothing I read that I could disagree.  A lot of it felt like revisiting the old arguments about whether OD should be focusing on emergent way of engaging with change or stick to traditional programmatic way of working. What none of the articles explored was the transformative power Tech is likely to have on our practice.  I truly believe that we need not just to engage with Tech but fully immerse ourselves in it.  We need to understand what it is all about or risk becoming an irrelevancy in tomorrow’s workplace.

I believe good consultancy skills are at the heart of OD practitioner excellence.  The kind that people like Bill Evans  have spent many years helping practitioners to develop.  I would then add in political skills like those advocated by Simon Baddeley, Kim James and Tanya Arroba.  I believe these essentials, with the addition of a deep understanding of the world of people and organisations will remain at the core of what an effective OD practitioner needs in the new technologically driven workplace.  When thinking about the specific new skills, attitudes and beliefs demanded by our technology driven universe I have come up with the lists below:


The interaction of personal values, beliefs, feelings, a way of thinking and feeling about something

* Embrace the potential of the future rather than trying to shoehorn it into a version of the past.  This means scanning the horizon and keeping curious over what is coming and working out how we might incorporate it into our practice or need to respond to it and help shape it

* Develop a deep reflective practice to help us understand what has worked in the past, what our relationship is to technology, what excites us and what frightens us

* Being prepared to build new alliances both inside and outside of the organisation, recognising that the inspiration and support to develop ourselves and the organisations we work for can come from many different places

* Make friends with software architects, consumers of our organisations services, pressure groups, new media etc. In other words, stop seeking just to work with the top and hankering after only C Suite relationships!

* Being ready and happy to explore immersive technologies and take a risk on applying them to our practice


The application of knowledge and expertise to get something done

* Understand and start to consciously practice both computational and algorithmic thinking.   Algorithmic thinking is thinking about how to accomplish a particular end.  It is detail-oriented thinking about methods.  It is a way of getting to a solution through the clear definition of the steps needed.  Computational thinking is thinking about data by using computers to transform data into a more easily understood form. (With thanks to Mark Guzdial)

* The ability to carry out basic coding and develop algorithms and apps to be used to support OD interventions

* Understanding things like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Gamification and how to apply them in the organisation

* Knowing how to contract with and work with a much broader range of people from Geeks to venture capitalists

* Developing new ways of thinking about organisations and developing the skills to work with different organisation forms.  Such as, start-ups, intrapreneurship, workplace communities, short life organisations, partnerships, imaginariums etc.


The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others

* Being open working with a very broad range of people and having the ability to make these relationships work for ourselves, those we work with and the organisations we work with and for

* Openness to work with technologists and use our OD skills to bring their technology into the organisation and maximise its potential.  For example, my friend Thorsten Gorney and his new engagement offering Cabaana. Thorsten is not an OD practitioner, he has an interesting piece of technology but adoption and maximising the potential for an organisation I believe needs the skills we have.  The same is true for HR Tech – a lot of time and money is spent on buying and implementing but less time on ensuring maximisation of use and return on investment * Being happy to experience the metanoia of the OD profession.  Letting go of what we thought we always knew and embracing what might be

Let me know what you think.  Feel free to disagree as well as agree! If you have ideas for new attitudes, behaviours and skills then please feel free to share them in the comments section.




Post by Ian Gee.

We believe that Tech will not only reshape how OD is practiced but inevitably it will impact on the types of skills, training and background that the practitioner of the future will need. In this blog we provide a few examples of how we might do things differently taking advantage of what Tech offers us.

With thanks to the Urban Dictionary, here are some definitions:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is about ‘outsourcing our cognition to the machine’ if you use the ‘personal assistant’ on your smartphone you are already making use of AI. HR tech systems use AI, with algorithms to interrogate big data; the aim being to find predictive patterns to enhance decision making.

Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR) VR is ‘a cyber world where the ugly can be beautiful, the weak can be strong, the old can be young, the poor can be rich, boys can be girls and no one really minds!’. ‘AR blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated’. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world, while interacting with virtual objects, whilst with VR, the user is isolated from the real world and immersed in a fabricated world. 

Gamification The process of turning the world, into a computer game. “Work doesn’t feel like work anymore Harry. It feels like they’ve got me jumping through hoops with these bonus points games. But games are games right? Bring it on!”

Now let’s have a look at how OD can make use of these technologies. These are our initial ideas and we are sure you will have your own ideas – please share them in the comments section.

Globalisation/ New Market Entry/ Business Uncertainty

Many of today’s businesses are looking to trade globally, enter new markets and or are managing a high degree of uncertainty about the future. – Use tailored algorithms to provide real time information for continuous business planning and strategy development processes. AI can carry out companywide sentiment analysis (that is, scan blogs, emails, social media comments etc. about your company and rate them in terms of support etc.), understand market share, employee turnover, pension liability, etc. Build computer based AR/VR simulations that could be used to ‘imagine the future’. Developing a ‘Tower of Babylon’ providing an immersive experiences of different cultures without the need for travel. The opposite is also true. An AR/VR simulation giving new market employees the chance to understand life at HQ.

Regulation, Ethics and Compliance

We live in a world where ethics and compliance failures can put a company under the spotlight and cause massive reputational damage. – Use big data to understand your companies pattern of compliance and non-compliance identifying potential hotspots. Develop VR/AR scenarios that allow employees to act in both an ethical/compliant and non-ethical/non-compliant way, so they can understand the difference and experience the consequences of their actions. 

Organisation Complexity

Organisations face increased complexity in the market place, ways of working, understanding customers, managing stakeholders etc. – Develop a ‘complexity dashboard’ using AI to do the thinking for you and only share with you what you need to know in a format that is easy to understand. At the same time inspires people to incorporate ‘algorithmic thinking’ detail-oriented thinking about methods) into their ways of working. 

Change Overload, Tracking Outcomes and ROI

Organisations can become addicted to change! More than ever we need to track the impact of change and provide evidence of the ROI. – Use algorithmic thinking to identify what changes are critical and will have the biggest impact and use AI to track change and calculate ROI. 


Diversity, in all its forms, is a differentiator in the 21st Century workplace and marketplace. – Track diversity using AI to identify stumbling blocks, talent management issues etc. Identify the positive impacts of diversity through a real-time algorithmically driven ‘Diversity Index’. Use VR/AR to provide employees with the chance to be someone different and experience the workplace from their perspective. Gamification can be used to give points and prizes for employees who are building a culture where diversity flourishes.


Effective leadership is critical to the success of organisations. – Use Ai to understand past leadership success and failures and track the conditions that allow success to occur. Provide a VR/AR experience that lets employees stand in a leader’s shoes and understand the complexity of the role.

Mergers and Acquisitions

70% of M&A activity fails to add value, yet we continue to do it in the same ways. – Use big data to Identify potential targets. Use AR/VR simulations to test integration plans. Gamify integration plans by offering points and prizes for those helping to realise the value of an M&A. Develop an internal ‘stock market’ where employees can invest in ideas related to integration.

Change Management and Culture Change

Successful change management and culture change are still problematic. – Use AR/VR to provide experiences of the positive and negative aspects of your current culture and proposed future culture. Gamify change by developing airline style levels of reward for supporting change, providing points and prizes for ideas and behaviour change. 


Getting the message out there continues to challenge organisations. – Use AR/VR to provide experience of the impact of communication and test how the cascade works. Use a ‘pay it forward’ form of gamification to reward effective impactful communication.

In the comments section it would be great to get your thoughts and comments about this. If any of you are technologically mind and would like to explore any of this in more detail, we would be happy to have a Skype chat or meet for a cup of tea…..

HR Tech and the OD practitioner

Posted: October 31, 2016 by Matthew Hanwell in Change, OD, Organization, Technology, Uncategorized


Blog Post by: Ian Gee

In this blog I want to continue to explore why Carole and I believe it is critical for OD practitioners to engage with Tech, be involved with its development and find ways of incorporating it into our practice. In her last blog Carole mentioned the lack of visibility of OD practitioners at the recent HR Tech World Congress and expressed concern, that we might be coming late to the party and ultimately miss out. I believe not only will we miss out if we fail to fully engage with Tech, we will see a continuation of the abysmal figure of 70% of all OD initiatives failing.


The combination of newly available technology, shifting workplace demographics and changes to the political landscape are the biggest drivers of change we face. You could argue this has always been the case. What has shifted is the pace at which these are moving forward. This presents immense challenges to us as OD practitioners.


We have chosen to focus on Tech both because of the speed of change and its potential to impact the very nature of work and our relationship with it. Yet, this seems to be the least explored area from an OD point of view. In terms of how it impacts on our practice, how we can leverage it to enable faster and more impactful change and how potentially it will change the practice of OD in ways that we can hardly yet understand. However, we believe that critically there is an interaction between demographics and change that we need to understand first before we look at how Tech will both change and enhance what we do.


We can track the development of OD approaches in terms of the dominant generation in the workplace and the dilemmas they bring with them as they enter the world of organisations. I think Baby Boomers have struggled with the dilemma of organisations being either about social control, conformity etc., or a place for self-liberation and freedom of expression. This led to OD ideas like NTL, T Groups, change agents, action research, Appreciative Inquiry, Future Search, etc.


To my mind, Gen X struggle with the dilemma of organisations being about efficiency and effectiveness, versus their need for security and a sense of place. This has led to them dismissing a lot of the ‘boomer type’ interventions as fluffy, soft stuff and consequently moved OD to OE with interventions such Six Sigma, Agile, Lean, re/engineering, Quality Circles etc.


Gen Y, who are relatively new to the workplace, I think carry the dilemma of desperately wanting to be part of the herd and yet at the same time wanting organisations to recognise ‘the specialness of me!’ As OD practitioners I don’t think we have not fully understood the implications of this, or the kinds of interventions that will resonate with them.   However, examples such as tech led reorganisations to drive down cost and increase efficiency, workplace communities and structuring for the gig economy all come to mind.


I don’t think we yet know what dilemmas Gen Z will be trying to work out in organisations or the kinds of OD that will work for them. As a best guess, I think it will be something about the move from backpack to briefcase being ‘always on and connected’ 4D thinking and a need for depth and focus. What kinds of OD work will resonate with this group goodness knows? However, I am willing to place a large bet that Tech, HR or otherwise will be at the heart of it! To be considered as relevant to Gen Z not only will we need all the skills we currently have but also to be able to demonstrate a true depth understanding of Tech in and outside of the workplace.


As Gen Y and Gen Z start to be the dominate generations in the workplace and given their facility with all things Tech, I believe it is critical that as OD practitioners we fully understand such things as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Serious Gaming. Without this we will most certainly be considered old fashioned and of limited relevance by them. Our understanding needs to encompass not only what they are, but how we can make use of them to enable sustainable and impactful change. We need to understand the ‘what it is’ and to be able to help shape ‘what it might become’. My friend Alberto Torres has written an interesting blog about the differences between AI and VR that you can find here

As we continue these blogs we will explore in more detail what these technologies are and what we think they offer to the world of OD. We will look at Tech in the widest possible sense. Imagining a world where OD practitioners having coding skills, or a good understanding of them and be the kind of professionals who can work as equals with Tech specialists to develop ‘OD algorithms’ and co-develop apps and other forms of Tech we can use in our practice.

If you are already working in this way and incorporating any of these possibilities in your OD practice it would be great to hear what you have been doing and the impact, positive or negative it has had on the outcomes of your work.

Technology – Friend or Foe?

Posted: October 25, 2016 by Matthew Hanwell in Change, Human Resources, OD, Technology, Uncategorized


Blog Post by:  Carole Grimwood

A few months ago, I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend the HR Tech World Spring Conference in London with my colleague Ian Gee. It was a great event and if any readers are not familiar, take look and maybe go along next time. It turned out to be a couple of the most thought provoking days I’ve had in a while and I wanted to share some of my observations.

First, there was great energy. There were over 2000, much younger than your average, HR conference delegates from across the world with a passion for technology and a future focus. And the big question for them – how can technology shape not just HR but the world of work in general?

Second, there were innovations from wearable technologies of the FitBit/Smart Watch type for 2-way communication with staff, Mobile Apps for learning and employee engagement, video recruitment where the interviewer and assessor is the computer, systems for handling and exploiting big data, and robots with learning capability to automate jobs.

Third, there was much talk about the potential of data as a tool to help us shape our thinking and shape not just our workforce strategies but also the world of work itself.

(It wasn’t all exciting by the way. Maybe it’s just me but the pedestrian world of Learning Management Systems hardly seems to have moved on in the last 10 years!)

Two statistics that were quoted are of particular significance:

  • 35% of today’s jobs in the UK will disappear in the next 20 years
  • There will be a 37% reduction in the number of people employed in HR in the next 5 years

It could be that these projections are optimistic. According to research by Deloitte and Oxford University, as 47% of current jobs could be automated by 2020.

The hypothesis is that this won’t happen because of a failing economy and endless austerity measures – it will happen in spite of it. This is about growth and investment in technology and the exponential rise in the power and sophistication of robotics, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. Since the conference, I’ve read and posted a good deal about driverless vehicles, self-service bars, room service robots, automated journalism, and the 3D printing of houses. The list goes on.

It was disappointing to find that at the conference very little attention was being given to the OD implications of all of this. There is the potential for an unprecedented shift in the world of work and the need for experts to support the change. OD colleagues didn’t seem to be at the party.

So the question is what does all this mean for the future of work and by implication for the future of HR and OD? Over the next couple of months, we will publish a series of blogs about the impact of technology on the world of OD, HR and the future world of work. Let us know if you have particular views or if there are questions you’d like us to think about?


By Ian Gee

I am sure we have all noticed the rise of mosher led microbreweries, hipster bakeries, nipster furniture makers, craft kids and DIYer upcycling shops! To me these all represent a resurgence and delight in artisan products, services and ways of working.  In most towns and cities these new types of businesses, led by urban tribes, are springing up and doing rather well.  Consumers seem willing to pay a premium to know where their products come from, how staff are treated and to feel that they are receiving something hand crafted and special. I would also argue that by supporting artisans, they are consciously or unconsciously feeling part of a movement.  There is a sense, that by buying from small local craft producers, they are having a bit of a ‘stick it to the man’ moment!

As someone who grew up in the 60’s I find this really interesting.   Throughout the last century having things from large companies was all the rage and a sign that you and your family were successful, letting go of the past and embracing modernity.  Things from large corporations had a shiny, bright and new glamour to them.  As opposed to hand-crafted items, which were dull, old fashioned and boring.  A sign of being stuck in the past and not getting with the programme!   We trusted the ‘big brands’ to deliver quality, efficiency and effectiveness at a good price.

From my experience the only interest in hand crafted goods tended to be the things that people brought back from their overseas holidays.  So the fancy sangria jug, or the Neolithic looking mortar and pestle brought home as a reminder of a lovely summer holiday.  I have a friend of Greek heritage and he told me how in the 70’s and 80’s when his Greek family visited the UK they would bring a lot of their ‘peasant, artisan goods’ to give to friends and family and then rush to Woolworths to fill their suitcases with Tupperware to take back home as gifts for friends!  The gifts they brought were kept on display as symbols of exoticism and ‘conversation starters’.  They were certainly never used!

To me the subtext is that in today’s market place artisan products and services are perceived to be more ‘truthful’, real and authentic than those offered by the big brands.  They are sold as less likely to be built on the sands of possible corruption or stir up feelings of ethical dilemmas.  They are local, shaped and crafted by the ‘horny handed sons and daughters of the soil’!  I think this evidences a strong desire to experience things on a much more human scale and to be able to look into the eye of the person who has produced what we are consuming.  When we buy from an artisan, we feel, rightly or wrongly, that we know what we are getting and through the economic exchange are forming a relationship, no matter how transitory, with our locality and in many cases with a particular community.

What on earth has the last 500+ words got to do with OD, I hear you muttering?!  Well, given consumers desire for a more artisan, transparent, local relationship with producers what would a more artisan like approach to OD look like?  Here are a few thoughts of the top of my head.

Artisan OD might include:

  • Small teams of people doing things in a very transparent way that people understand. Most likely working within their direct or immediate locality so they feel they know them
  • Practitioners who have an obvious passion for their trade and craft; making money being secondary to their vocation
  • A practice with a very evident set of skills and abilities, with no mystery or ‘behind the curtain’ type activities
  • A sense that anyone can do Artisan OD, if they are willing to put in the 10K hours to practice, practice, practice and more practice
  • The fact that the excitement and glamour is not in the power of association (how many OD practitioners have you heard bragging that they only work with C Suite executives, having lots of BIG clients, etc., ) but rather in the fact that you are using your craft to make an obvious difference at a local level and by association to the world
  • No checklists (the top 5 tips for employee engagement, the 8 things you need to do for successful culture change, the 7 things to change in order to be the change you want to be….) and not aphoristically driven (‘Change before you have to’ “Out there in some garage is an entrepreneur who’s forging a bullet with your company’s name on it.”…) but personalised, bespoke, connected, locality based, authentic and real.

I have lots more ideas, but before I share them, over to all of you my fellow OD, Artisan or otherwise, let me know what you think?  What do we need to do to become the new tribe in the HR world?!

Commercialism – TINA for Public Services?

Posted: January 30, 2016 by Matthew Hanwell in Change, OD, Organization, Uncategorized


By Ian Gee – cross posted from: Albany OD

Perma-austerity’, is what some are calling the new world the public sector finds itself in. Budget reductions and the need to reshape services has led to many public sector organisations exploring how they can operate in a more commercial way. Being more commercial appears to holds out the possibility of generating additional income, raising levels of efficiency and effectiveness, securing inward investment and creating a thriving local economy. It also offers the possibility of keeping services, often in a reshaped form, that would otherwise be lost as part of a package of cuts.

During my consultancy assignments at Albany OD it is very common to hear leaders say “We want our managers to be more commercial, entrepreneurial and business-like”. However as they talk, it becomes clear that no one should underestimate the challenge becoming more commercial, in a public sector context, presents to organisations and those that work in them.

Whatever it means in theory, in practice it means a massive, step change in the way public services think about themselves and how they do business. It also changes the way in which we, as consumers, are likely to experience the services they provide. Commercialism challenges current models of leadership, management and employment. Ultimately, for good or ill, it is likely lead to new types of organisations delivering reshaped and transformed public services.

I have heard of some interesting commercial experiments. I know of local authorities that are trading most of their services. So for example; the local dog wardens will provide, for a fee, advice on dog nutrition or safety around dangerous dogs, an authorities secretariat, for a fee, will provide services such as agenda setting, minute taking etc. for your AGM and revenue services providing a ‘no win no fee’ debt collection service for individuals and businesses. I know of cases where a local authority maintenance service has raised income by offering its service, for a fee, to employees for home repairs and an authority that as well as carrying out road maintenance will also tarmac your drive for a fee. Other authorities are ‘land banking’ outside of their area and in one case an English local authority is buying and letting industrial units in Wales.

Many people find the idea of commercialism threatening. It raises concerns about cuts, organisational change and job losses. Some fear it will challenge their personal values and commitment, others fear it will devalue their professional ethos and status. It also raises questions about the way services are organised and delivered and the people who are leading and delivering them. Do the organisations have the kind of culture, values and beliefs that will allow them to operate successfully in the commercial world? Do public sector employees have the skills, capacity and capability to work in this new way? Previously I have written about the challenges of bringing entrepreneurialism into organisations and I think this applies equally to commercialism in the public sector. If you want to read more about this you can find my latest writing here.

From an OD point of view it is not just a case of ‘lets close down the organisation and reopen, in a more commercial way, in 3 months time’! This is a change that has to happen whilst continuing to deliver excellence to local communities. I would describe it as like retooling a space rocket whilst on the way to Mars! Another way in which some organisations are approaching this issue is to recruit staff from the private sector, in the hope that they will somehow shift the culture and bring about the change. Whilst bringing in skills may be a good idea, the risk here is that you are working on an assumption that your current staff don’t have any of the skills needed and also you run the danger of ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. That is those people brought in are considered special and treated as such and this breeds resentment across the rest of the organisation.

At Albany OD we have been giving this a lot of thought. We believe that getting the right kind of OD plans and actions in place is absolutely critical if public services are to reap the rewards of greater commercialism and at the same time avoid the pitfalls. OD has a part to play in the work needed both before commercialism decisions are made as well as in supporting successful implementation once plans are in place. To find out more about our thinking you can look here.

You will no doubt have noticed that I have not taken a stance on whether or not I think public services being more commercial is a good idea or not. I do believe that were it not for the current economic climate, the idea of a more commercial public sector would be seen as a distraction from the organisations core mission. However I do believe that the current move towards a more commercial public sector, if it is managed in the right way, can be seen as an exciting way of renewing the public sector and potentially lead to both exciting career opportunities and a much more engaged way of working with the public these organisations are designed to serve.

It would be great to hear what you think about this and any examples you have of where a more commercial approach is paying dividends as well as where it has gone wrong. This will help us to learn from each other and develop new ideas as to how OD might help move the agenda forward and increase the chances of success.





Cross posted from

We continue to use the same structures and organize work in the same way as we have for decades, but is there a more effective way to benefit from our collective intelligence?

The way in which we organize work has pretty much remained unchanged for more than 100 years, despite the transformation that we are all experiencing and the fact that we are now in a knowledge-based digital age.

Work is still organized largely by hierarchy and department, much as it was in the early industrial era. Employers continue to use these structures automatically by default, without thinking or considering what other options might be available.

What if we stop and think, pause to consider how we might accomplish our objectives in another way, and think about how we might be able to tap into more of the collective intelligence available both inside and outside of our organizations?

Working without limits

It makes sense to use hierarchy to organize repeatable work, such as payroll or compliance services, because these are areas of business that rely on certainty and predictability. They are also typically repetitive activities where any variation needs to be carefully planned, tightly controlled, monitored and recorded.

However, organizing work in hierarchy limits creativity, innovation and the opportunity for the unexpected, and more than 75% of the work of most organizations does not require hierarchy as the dominant organization form.

Hierarchy may be sufficient to get the job done, but it may not be necessary. By making hierarchy our “default choice”, intentionally or otherwise, we limit the possibility of achieving better outcomes and results, and raising the engagement of employees.

Seeking alternatives

Many academics, management gurus and operational development practitioners have, in the last few years, been calling for a review of how we organize the way we work.

They have been looking for alternative ways of organizing that will unleash the holy grail of employee engagement, increase discretionary effort and create organizations where people feel able to work to the best of their capabilities.

This has included exploring how to make project management more agile and lean, introducing ideas about matrix organizations and even exploring “intrapreneurship”, which aims to bring into the workplace the kind of culture and work practices that are present in start-ups.

One way of working that is under-explored and underused is that of the workplace community.

Workplace communities

By workplace communities, we mean a structured and planned way by which people have the opportunity to contribute and work outside of the traditional hierarchy, silos and matrices that exist within the organization. Engaging with each other in very different ways can create extraordinary results for the business.

In our experience, most organizations are laced with communities, however, these mainly remain small, often invisible and hampered by a lack of explicit support and license.

In the increasingly knowledge-based economy, our knowledge, thoughts, ideas, creativity, innovation and our willingness to share and collaborate are critical for creating value for organizations and the individuals who work for them.

Workplace communities provide a way to tap into this collective intelligence, engage people in a common sense of purpose and provide the opportunity for unleashing intrapreneurship across the organization.

Break down barriers

Imagine a workplace where people are not bound by departmental barriers, a place where employees feel a commitment to the whole organization and not just their department.

Here, we have employees who see the organization “in the round” and feel that their contribution makes a difference, despite this not being part of their job description, or annual tasks and targets.

This is the kind of workplace where people feel such a strong sense of community that being a partisan is not an option.

We believe that workplace communities, if implemented with diligence and care, can unleash latent talent, capability and capacity in the organization, and in doing so have a positive affect on business results and employee engagement.

We are increasingly living and working in a multi-generational, digital, knowledge-based, global workplace, enabled by the internet and social media.

Not only do we believe that the current workforce is looking for new ways of working and achieving, but we also know, from our research, that the generations entering the workplace, Gen Y or the Net Gen (“Gen Z”), are looking for a different relationship between them and their work, one that is not bound by the traditions of those that have gone before them.

They have grown up with the web and associated technology and are expecting to experience the kind of freedoms, connections and opportunities for both business and personal achievement that is available in all other aspects of their lives.

Strike a bargain

Workplace communities do not come about by accident, they require intentionality.

You need to establish a clear understanding of what you are aiming to do, developing both a “plausible promise” and what the “bargain” is for both employees and the organization as a whole.

You need to develop an initiation plan, as well as review what current communication and collaboration tools and technology you have available.

You also need to understand the stages that a workplace community goes through, what to do if it gets stuck and how to measure its effectiveness.

Workplace communities are not the “holy grail” of work organization, but we believe that by starting to utilize them you will shift your thinking and that of your employees.

In doing so, this will provide you with the opportunity to take a fresh look at how work is undertaken and the opportunity to create the “future of work” in your own organization


Ian Gee and Matthew Hanwell are the co-authors of “The workplace community: A guide to releasing human potential and engaging employees   Find out more about the book here.