Now You See It by Cathy Davidson

The Changing Workplace

  • The computers on our desks at work and at home allow distraction to enter the workplace and work to invade the home front. People often work with people elsewhere in the world they never meet and more people go to work without leaving home. Meanwhile, most workplaces are designed using industrial age models that were well researched starting with Taylor’s work in the early 1900’s. We are now in need of a Project Workplace Makeover that considers the remote worker, endeavor-based work, global teams, crowd-sourcing, and mass collaboration.
  • Cathy uses examples from IBM to show the possible direction of workplace evolution. Where the workplace is diverse, scattered, decentralized, multicultural, and mostly virtual, IBM has developed a new kind of multi-person conversational culture. You might have 15 people meeting online where anyone can contribute at any time. Such conversations feature back channels which allows everyone to get their ideas out. Once you get use to this, online conferences without backchannels seem impoverished. Since our statistical models were designed for a different form of productivity, we have few analytical tools for understanding this type of problem solving. Credit now goes to the team that functions best. (Dr. Doug: The IBM system reminds me of the Twitter conference I attend every Tuesday at noon using the #edchat hashtag.)
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