How Future of Work, Appreciative Inquiry and Working Out Loud Connect With #ESN

The movements of Future of Work, Working Out Loud and Appreciative Inquiry are all connected with overlapping ideas. But how do they overlap and what role does an Enterprise Social Network and other networking technologies play in enabling or accelerating the realization of these movements?

The fundamental overlap is about contribution

Future of Work Working out LoudRaising the contribution rate of employees and their satisfaction at work and spreading this to customers is, I suspect, the key point of intersection of Future of Work, Appreciative Inquiry, and Working Out Loud. We know from reliable Gallup surveys that only 13% of the global workforce is engaged at work and actively contributing. The vast majority are simply complying with "being at work".

We can call the engaged people Contributors because they voluntarily give all of who they are to their work, their colleagues and the Enterprise and they readily engage with and build social networks and social ecosystems and collaborate for social good. The fortunate companies who have high numbers of Contributors in their workforces are set up to take advantage of the new social business and social networking technologies because the Contributors are wired for collaboration. And it is not a Generation X or Millennial characteristic, rather it is a question of company culture.

Appreciative Inquiry + Future Of Work + Working Out Loud

Starting with Appreciative Inquiry - it aims to spread the goodness the Contributors see in their daily work in order to motivate those who are, at the moment, simply compliant.

Next, the Future of Work perhaps means many things to many people but it is also focused on making people more engaged and productive in any chosen setting i.e. Contributing more, and being able to do so in the setting and work environment of their choice. In organisational terms this often translates into flexible working environments and a focus on new cultural norms which include collaboration, transparency (openness), sharing (as in flow rather than assets), and finally empowerment.

These ideas are increasingly seen in corporate foyers and value statements - this much we know! This also requires culture change, but is perhaps, for Future of Work, more generational-driven as the younger employees come already "pre-wired and integrated" with technologies which enable them to instantly invoke the core values i.e. you don't have to bolt it on to reticent minds.

And finally, the Working Out Loud movement is relatively new and was defined about 3 years ago by Bryce Williams as:

          Working Out Loud = Observable Work + Narrating Your Work

It has been popularised by John Stepper of Deutsche Bank and he describes five key elements of Working Out Loud, they are:

  1. Making your work visible: the fundamental starting point;
  2. Making work better: one of the main reasons for openly narrating your work is to find ways to improve it;
  3. Leading with generosity: framing your posts as contributions showing that you're not just looking for help but offering to help others, too. This is akin to our concept of creating abundance.
  4. Building a social network: interacting with a broader range of people;
  5. Making it all purposeful: since there's an infinite amount of contributing and connecting you can do, you need to make it purposeful in order to be effective.

Clearly improving your purposeful work is going to improve your contributions and will encourage others who may have been more compliant to become Contributors. The goodness will be spread a la Appreciative Inquiry and the Future of Work enables the kind of empowering of Working Out Loud.

Enterprise Social Network an enabler of #FOW #WOL Appreciative Inquiry

All these movements want to expand human communities throughout and beyond the enterprise, and they envisage in some contexts doing this at scale. As Mike Green KINSHIP CEO says "The winning organisations in a hyper-connected world will be those that create many opportunities for their workforce to interact with “the outside world’ at scale (meaning frequently, meaningfully, and in ways that are recognised and (positively) rewarded."

Appreciative Inquiry calls out for employees to be able to connect and even hyper-connect using social technologies. The Future of Work requires sharing and collaboration internally and externally in a networked economy which can only be delivered, today, through social technologies. And Working Out Loud explicitly calls out social technologies as one of its key elements. 

It's about the whole social architecture, and social technologies

So in fact while we mentioned Enterprise Social Networks these are necessary but not sufficient for the enablement of the three movements. It takes social technologies, of which social media is just one component, and this realisation throws some light on the importance of a coherent Social Architecture which embraces internal and external social assets and points of presence.

Today, it is rare for organisations to consider such a social architecture in their planning. But clearly, for organisations serious about Future of Work or Appreciative Inquiry or Working Out Loud they need to have a strategy and roadmap for the enabling Social Architecture in it's fullest sense as a base level of enablement. In that way they will most effectively achieve the benefits from these movements, including more value contribution from more Contributors.

In what other ways do FOW and WOL and Appreciative Inquiry overlap?

by Walter Adamson 

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Future of WorkJacob Morgan's The Future of Work

If you are interested in the above topics then you will be interested in Jacob Morgan's new book. It is a book about how employees of the future will work, how managers will lead, and what organizations of the future will look like.

In the Future of Work Jacob covers issues such as:

  • Staying ahead of the competition
  • Creating better leaders
  • Taping into the freelancer economy
  • Attracting and retaining top talent
  • Rethinking management
  • Structuring effective teams
  • Embracing flexible work environments
  • Adapting to the changing workforce
  • Building the organization of the future

The book features uncommon examples and easy to understand concepts which will challenge and inspire you to work differently. We interviewed Jacob Morgan about The Future of Work, which you will also find interesting.

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