Performance is more than support – Creating the conditions
So leading on from last week’s post, lets start exploring the first step in creating a performance culture – creating the optimal conditions Conditions This is where culture, skills, career planning, reward and management skills come together to cultivate a performance mind-set, at both a micro level (individuals and teams) and macro level (organisations and society). The issue here is that often these types of considerations are regarded as softer measures rather than at the hard and fast business results end of the scale. In a well cited paper from 2013 titled ‘ The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne from the University of Oxford, concluded that 47% of job categories are open to automation within the next twenty years. Now this may be a rather worrying figure, however the paper also recognises that some jobs—especially those currently associated with high levels of education and high wages—will survive. Although what’s more interesting is to reflect on the skills that will become the most valuable. It is research such as that conducted by the New World Of Work board (the results you can see in the box to the right) that has led to models such as Harold Jarche’s Network Era Competences for Learning and Working, where ‘personal knowledge mastery’ is a way to describe the ways in which we find the right information, people and knowledge to develop skills and drive performance. In this environment, the most valuable skills become those that make us deft at navigating and disseminating information rapidly, contributing effectively and efficiently and skilled at bringing information and people together to deliver objectives. Through the commitment of learning professionals and business leaders, these competencies are nurtured by creating the most conducive learning environment, leaving people free to add their talents and imaginations to finding new solutions, efficiencies, products and services. In the rise of automation (described by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, professors at MIT, as “The Second Machine Age”) its these skills that will become increasingly more valuable. A quick search on skills for the 21st century will yield page after page of articles, publications, research projects and comment, but most share common themes that support Jarche’s network era competencies. They also often highlight why this is so important as we move through the information age into the imagination age, typifies by this quote from Michael Jung, a senior consultant at McKinsey and Company.
“Our old idea is that work is defined by employers and that employees have to do whatever the employer wants . . . but actually, you would like him to come up with an interpretation that you like — he’s adding something personal — a creative element.”
There’s also another great reason for investing in creating the right conditions – in his most recent book, More Than Blended Learning, Clive Shepherd emphasises that in today’s working world ‘an analysis is not for ever’. His advice here is worth taking to heart:
‘Be prepared to revisit your analysis because situations are always changing and new information comes available all the time. Design is – and should be – an iterative process as you strive to ever more closely meet the needs’.
Taking Clive’s point on board, this makes the conditions all the more important; anchoring your organisation to one particular approach is simply not tenable or relevant. Once we accept this it really can be rather liberating! No longer are we continually chasing the next big thing and committed to making that one big investment a success. We are better informed and able to take opportunities as they arise because they are aligned to our particular performance needs. Once we’ve established the appropriate conditions for performance, it’s time to build a network or community to nurture and foster performance. That’s what we’ll be focussing on in our next instalment.