Written by
Jim Carrick-Birtwell

Published
02 Oct 2017

Why change the way you work?

02 Oct 2017 • by Jim Carrick-Birtwell

Our vision for this blog is that it can cultivate a sense of community, where citizens from around the world from different organisations and walks of life can encounter one another and cultivate a common space of shared ideas, insights, wisdom and enlightenment on the changing world of work that we’re all navigating, writes Jim Carrick-Birtwell, Changeboard's co-founder and CEO.

Sharing ideas on subjects that matter to us helps to cultivate a sense of community.

If citizens from around the world, from different organisations and walks of life, can encounter one another and share perspectives, they can create a common space of shared ideas, insights, wisdom and enlightenment. So where are we, and what is needed?

We are at a watershed.
Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are creating a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. There has been a decline in trust in business, the establishment and political norms, exemplified by Donald Trump’s election as US president and Britain’s Brexit vote for to leave the EU. There is a sense that inequalities – of income, wealth, and opportunity – are corroding the bonds in society that are essential for the healthy functioning of civic life and democracy.
 
How we shape the future of work is more than a technical challenge: it is time to put people at the heart; re-think productivity and the relationships between people, business and technology to create sustainable and ‘good’ work, with modern working practices, for as many individuals as possible.
 
There is a need to ‘connect the dots’ on the major issues that have significant repercussions for the world of work, and the wider world.
Televised and reported news is ‘breaking’ until it is displaced by the next story. It induces a collective trance. There is no context, or explanatory narrative, and no distinction between vacuous short-term ‘news’, and events and decisions that can have a profound impact on many people’s lives.
 
Historical, philosophical, social, cultural, moral and ethical perspectives are needed to understand the implications of what’s going on, and business leaders have a role to play.
 
Leaders must provide a sense of meaning to everyday events as they unfold.
Former US president Barack Obama articulated this in his ‘Call to Renewal' keynote address:

“Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds – dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets – and they’re coming to realise that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness, is not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives.”


A moral and civic renewal depends on leaders to corral and organise the sentiments and emotions of the times and shape them for the public good.
Political philosopher Michael Sandel’s legendary Harvard course, Justice, provides seminal thought leadership about how to build a politics of moral and civic renewal.
 
He says that “community, solidarity, trust, civic friendship – these virtues are not like commodities that are depleted with use, they are rather like muscles that grow stronger with exercise”.
 
Business people have an opportunity to lead in creating moral renewal.
Trust in politicians is at an all-time low. Work environments can create and re-build ethical conversations between individuals in ways that political institutions can no longer credibly provide.
 
Business leaders can rebuild a public realm that has been hollowed out; building organisations and creating places of work that support the common good.
 
Diversity and inclusion are central pillars of a healthy business and civic life.
Diverse perspectives, even if they involve disagreements, create real engagement and tolerance. Listening and learning provides a much more promising basis for mutual understanding and respect.
 
For example, as we reappraise the skills needed for the future, we need to articulate why it's essential to include and champion a more diverse range of resources based on gender, generation, sexual orientation, ethnicity and colour to future-proof ourselves and our businesses, and to guard against the tyranny of bigotry.
 
‘Post-truth’ is not a harmless phrase.
As author Timothy Snyder explains, “post-truth is pre-fascism”. The popular scorning of everyday facts and acceptance of alternative realities uncannily mirrors Nazi and Hitlerian rhetoric.
 
There is a need to swim against the mainstream.
The history of freedom and justice is a testament to dissidents and activists who stood up against the status quo and argued for a common good for all.
 
Successful change must alter attitudes and dispositions.
Every successful movement of social and political reform has involved what the French historian de Tocqueville describes as changing ‘the habits of the heart’. There has never been a more important time for business leaders to recognise that their attitudes to changes in the world of work can be hugely influential as acts of citizenship.

Reflecting critically upon preferences, questioning, challenging, enlarging and improving upon these changes contributes to the common good.

 


Changeboard is a mission-based organisation with the aim to inspire individuals and organisations to ‘change the way you work’ (CTWYW).

We would also like to share this blog platform with other progressive, liberal-minded individuals and organisations from around the world to provide a diverse range of perspectives on the changing world of work that we’re all navigating.

We’ll no doubt evolve the scope of the blog as it goes along, and if you’d like to get involved, please be in touch.

Jim Carrick-Birtwell, jim@changeboard.com