The revolution will not be televised: Except on #TEDxBucharest

Connections to the Gil Scott-Heron song is deliberate.

Gil was right — the revolution will NOT be televised — everywhere. Little did he know how wrong he was about his own country. The revolution was televised in the US. From the Rodney King incident to the election of Barack Obama.

Where work is concerned, there may not be any revolution or televised broadcasts of major incidents leading to a totally new “thing” called work.

Instead, I predicted yesterday at TEDx Bucharest, the revolution WILL be on TED and already is.

SO SO many great clips of educationally stimulating content and challenges to the norms, TED already is responsible for switching people onto new thinking. And the TEDx brand is popping up all over the world to do that.

Hence speaking at the TEDx Bucharest event yesterday for me was a great honour. A bucket list tick. And a spiritual homecoming.

Because it was in 2012 that I met some amazing people and came across an incredible organisation that changed my life forever.

CROS - aka the Alternative University — hit me like a collection of people never has before. A university RUN by students and ex students. Where there are no qualifications. People direct their own learning. Everyone’s a student and everyone’s a teacher.

A place built from the love of learning. A place exuding hope that we — the people — can take control of our destiny.

2 people in particular — Ana Marica and Catalina Contoloru — kept in touch with me and shared the CROS experiences eventually joining me for about a year’s worth of adventures in learning: building research programmes into alternative work models; putting together a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC); attending more conferences than can be remembered and generally being a super inspiration for each other.

Ana and Catalina also helped me shape a community of practitioners — the iPractice — to help change the world of work: one conversation at a time. Very much modelled on CROS — a learning community first; working collaboration second and from 11 early starters this community now number 65 and has representation from St Louis to Johannesburg; Milan to Perth; Bucharest to Auckland. And the UK in the middle of that of course.

We believe in a better way for work; that HR holds a huge amount of the cards to play in delivering this; and we focus our research on organisations that are successfully hacking the system; disrupting their organisations for the better and STILL being sustainable and viable in the markets they operate in.

We share this with others in our community and more widely of course. We also share work in the community. We ask for voluntary input of whatever time or nature people can provide. We have adult conversations over money and effort. We help each other. For we have created a SOLUTIONS MARKETPLACE.

And it is this which some or much of work will become. Not locked down issues in a team; buried in a division and lost in an organisation. Put out to the market to solve. And NOT through huge programmes and procured pieces of work that takes an age to come to fruition.

Work broken down from the massive processes we’ve made it become. We are seeing the micro over the mass as a shift; enabled largely by technology.

So therefore with less work packaged in battery cages and more “free-range” now we need a different people proposition to do this.

More contingent workers; more short pulsating contracted arrangements with people; less rigid team structures and less 9–5 / 5 days per week built job roles. More of the entrepreneur at work — work whenever you want to.

With this arrangement comes less management of the old style and more a new inspirational; sense-making supportive type of manager. As more a free spirited do-er than a task-oriented box-ticker, I need a manager who sets my challenge; supports me as necessary and lets me deliver brilliantly.

And we will see craft return. As we automate and synthesise a lot of the lower level tasks, we can skill people in more discreetly framed areas and push our competence up instead of cruising as a feeder on the sea bed. We have so many complex societal problems we need people to work in disadvantaged areas; with people who have certain needs and to care for us all as we get older.

Much of this work will be commercialised and done through private companies in partnership with government and so there is a market for craft of this nature. Plus a return to bespoke ways for much of the mass produced bland stuff we buy now. A handmade bookcase that will last for many decades over a flat back thing that falls apart in 3 years.

And so we will see a new agent for change in work: the disruptor. Who has one major piece of work (and several other incidentals): to disrupt and displace that which no longer has relevance. We will see more people engaged in work which is of this nature. Ideas generation; new thinking and challenges to orthodoxies. We will see disruption as usual.

And all this will see the death of the hierarchy and the dawn of the heterarchy or as Jon Husband puts it so eloquently the “wirearchy”. We will see interconnected organisations with leaders at the centre and not the top. With people moving freely and with energy to solve problems and create new services and product propositions.

We have to save work from a thing more dull. We have to bring the energy and brilliance out of people. We have to bring back the love of learning at work.

Thank you TEDxBucharest for allowing me to be touched by this experience so profoundly. I believe in what I do MORE now than even I thought possible. And for giving me the chance to hopefully fire enough synapses in others, that this change starts right now.

WE. CAN. DO. THIS. NOW.

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