The M-Shaped Strategy Weekly – 2016 Week 5
We've grabbed, and barely read, so much over the past week. Here are a few of the things that we bounced into Pocket or saved into DevonThink.
The New Engineering
This article starts off with a rather interesting caution. The structural engineer is about to advance the primacy of his profession in the development of new architectural form, yet expresses a concern that the human factors – “the spiritual side of life” or the wider social context, say, which traditionally many engineers haven’t dwelt on– at the forefront of design when the architect is leader might be lost in the inversion toward the dominant structural engineer. By the end of the discussion, however, the power of a traditional collaborative approach augmented by a broader engagement of w wider world of knowledge and data generates "further judgement points, derived from aesthetic, social, environmental and even historical cultural influence" making a "new engineering" relevant and valuable.
The Architecture of Work
This is a very good interview discussing the changes in the way that work is done and the new – again, collaborative – organizational designs it necessitates. "We have shifted into a new economy where we don’t know at the outset of some new activity who are the best people to get involved, how the project will proceed, or what the risks are. And the industrial era organization is principally a hindrance, not a support." Connections in a network or between networks enable self-organizing, self-regulating and continuously variable organizational forms to get things done. "The architecture of work is not the structure of a firm, but the structure of the network. The organization is not a given hierarchy, but an ongoing process of responsive organizing. The main motivation of work may not even be financial self-interest, but people’s different and yet, complementary expectations of the future." Lots of good material here.
You Gotta Keep an Eye on Those Fuckers
Another type of collaborative organization is on the movie set as producers, director, writers, actors and others come together to test and trust each other on the way to something great. David Simon, director of the HBO Show Me A Hero series, wrote a great article on the deliberations forming around a single line in the drama. He concludes:
"I like to imagine that I’ll work with these fine actors on some future project, that every line and gesture in every future script will be butter, that we’ll go from scene to scene agreeing amiably on every single notion. But, no, that’s impossible and ridiculous. More plausibly, I’d like believe that by carefully enveloping and achieving a line that I actually didn’t need, two actors had earned enough of my trust that I might be more assured of their insight and sense, and too, that by discarding their gift to me once it was given, I’d earned their respect for my own restraint and taste. Next time, I’d like to believe, it isn’t going to be so fraught. Next time, we’ll all know each other better. Next time will be easy. Yeah, no. They’re actors. You gotta keep an eye on those fuckers."
Evolutions in Co-Working Spaces
Here's a nice piece in the New York Times on how co-working spaces are becoming more sophisticated and desirable places to get work done.
And here is another model, specifically design for a collective of professionals in the architecture, engineering and construction businesses.
I remember back in the 80's visiting the office of a friend of a friend in LA. In one of this great open bow-string truss buildings out there, his architectural firm shared space with a landscape architecture firm, a structural engineer and a small accounting firm. (Each operated independently, but when he wanted a client to imagine them as something more powerful than just five guys, the more populated "office" conveyed a sense of scale that generated confidence.) That space and way of working seemed so delicious then that I am surprised that only now is theidea finding success.
Robots in the Workplace
The momentum of automation in the workplace is increasing. McKinsey & Company looked at a wide variety of work activities to find that 45% of jobs could be automated tight now with available technology, including 20% of the activities in the CEO's office. The report also found that high-wage jobs may be more susceptible to automation than low-wage jobs.
Where might there be hope for continuing employment? "While these findings might be lamented as reflecting the impoverished nature of our work lives, they also suggest the potential to generate a greater amount of meaningful work. This could occur as automation replaces more routine or repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus more on tasks that utilize creativity and emotion."
Well, it's Superbowl Sunday, and the game's about to start. See you next week.