Embracing the distributed future

Quotas are dead. Long-live the Purpose Driven Economy!

I'm trying not to be too hyperbolic, but the signs are clear: the most effective business models of this generation are distributed, flat, collaborative, iterative, hyper-connected. They are built from the heart first ("Start With Why") and the head second.

By contrast, the incumbent corporations in the Knowledge Economy are built on the foundations left over from the Industrial Revolution. They are driven by quotas (sometimes disguised as KPI-driven bonuses) within a steep vertical hierarchy.

I've seen this consistently across several clients (Telecom, Banking, Retail/e-Commerce, etc.) while building Recorp with Franck Nouyrigat. We've begun to see patterns within the most effective organizations. Here are a few clear trends that will completely change the way corporations conduct business:

Knowledge Economy to "Human Economy"

Over the last two centuries the world's economies have transitioned from Agrarian to Industrial to Knowledge-based. In first-world countries, we are now seeing an evolution toward combining profit with purpose. The best and brightest workers are not incentivized purely but money. Instead they seek to earn a "sustainable" living while doing "work that they love."

HBR published a great article in 2014 describing the next evolution of the Knowledge Economy.

Cost of Communication

When the Knowledge Economy was expanding – beginning in the mid-20th century – there was no possibility of "distributed work." The cost of remote communication was so high as to make it impossible.

As computer and the internet began to pervade the lives of the middle class in the 80's and 90's the concept of "telecommuting" developed as a way to provide flexibility to valuable employees and extend the reach of busy executives, but it was seen as a luxury.

As the cost of communication has declined to practically zero, it has become possible to work from virtually anywhere (with an internet connection).

Beyond Analytics: Effectiveness

As a modern company, efficiency is no longer a strong-enough metric. Employees are required to be creative, dynamic, and passionate about they're work. They are called to exceed expectations to achieve effectiveness rather than efficiency.

It's hard to predict what shade of "remote work" will evolve, but we can say with certainty that the winning companies are the ones who: a) attract the right talent, b) execute objectives quickly, and c) provide employees with a sense of fulfillment.

Peter Crysdale