A linchpin culture: Seth Godin on the Changing Nature of Work

Here is Seth Godin being interviewed by Hugh Macleod:

In a sta­ble envi­ron­ment, we worship the effi­cient fac­tory. Henry Ford or even David Gef­fen… feed the machine, keep it run­ning smoothly, pay as little as you can, make as much as you can. In our post-industrial world, though, fac­tory worship is a non star­ter. Cheap cogs are worth what they cost, which is not much. In a chan­ging envi­ron­ment, you want peo­ple who can steer, inno­vate, pro­voke, lead, con­nect and make things hap­pen. That’s my the­sis. This is a new revo­lu­tion, and just as Marx and Smith wrote about the indus­trial revo­lu­tion, I’m wri­ting about ours.

Godin’s new book is called Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? and he hits the nail on the head that the industrial model for work design is no longer of much use. The work that we will be paid for is the difficult, innovative, one of a kind, creative stuff.

The cynefin model (below) shows that emergent practices are needed in order to manage in complex environments and novel practices are necessary for chaotic ones. We will be facing more complexity and chaos in our work. There are fewer easy answers, easy jobs with good pay, or simple ways to keep a job for life.

I don’t believe that it’s any longer a question of whether standardized work will be outsourced or automated, but when. How much time do we have to prepare people for the new revolution? Any scenario that I consider – peak oil, global warming; globalization; Asian dominance – still requires that the developed world’s workforce deals with more complexity and even chaos. We need to skill-up for emergent and novel practices and that means a completely different mindset toward work.

cynefin linchpin

It’s not enough that I am ready or that you are prepared. We have to be able to deal with change as a society. How can we help get our communities out of their comfort zones or overcome their fears and get their innate creativity flowing? Becoming a linchpin is the first challenge, but enabling a linchpin culture is the greater one.

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