From Old Work to New Work - From Silos to Flow #Fow

The idea of flow in business is not new. The Old Work sees flow as the absence of waste but the New Work - in the age of Social - sees flow as the discovery and extension of what is Good at Scale. In this Part 1 of 3 parts we highlight the characteristics of Old Work as a way of bringing out the contrast with the New Work.

Two emerging themes - in tension

We are living at a time when there are fundamental shifts in the way work is being done and will be done in the future. Two themes are emerging and they are in tension.

Firstly, work being done now will be taken over by automation and robots as society searches for new ways of achieve efficiency, speed and quality at scale. We might call this The Old Work which is about the head, not the heart. 

But there is a second theme emerging in the Future of Work. This is about the human need for deeper and more ‘authentic’ connections between customers and workforce members as they engage in authentic and open conversations through the power of today’s social and digital technologies.

On the one hand, new technologies are creating redundancy but on the other, social and digital technologies are morphing new ways of working which will see people connecting and collaborating to consume, share and make together to deliver and experience new ways of doing life-work as a living community.

The New Work in our Enterprises is to morph the culture and the experience from silo and part to the experience of being part of a Community of Belonging and Purpose.

People will no longer be clearly producer and customer – clearly one or the other - one internal and one external to the organisation - but rather joint members of a shared Community in continuous co-creation of social good at scale.

People will connect with others who believe what they believe about how the world is and how it should be, and they will combine their individual strengths to innovate from the experience of wholeness.

They will become a living ecosystem, beyond the traditional organisation of work or business process.  The Scale comes from the combination of an Open Belief System and Culture, the experience of wholeness and the deployment of social collaborative platforms such as Appreciative Inquiry and Enterprise Social Networks (ESN’s).


Old, industrial, single enterprise and linear concepts of work flows and customer process management will be replaced by global, fluid ecosystems, where people are seen as members of a community doing life-work together.


In this new way of being, connections between customers and workers will be from the Head and the Heart, with the latter the bigger idea.

The New Work is about tapping into the human need to collaborate from connecting and combining strengths to innovate, not fix problems or errors.

Innovation is the reconfiguration or new combinations of available strengths in order to meet new opportunities.

In our Social and Digital Age, we can tap into previously unimaginable resources of strengths – if we ask the right questions and take the time to make the authentic connections between people in an Open, Positive Culture.

The Old Work organises labour as a factory model of work, as cogs in a machine or operators of processes, smoothing handovers and unblocking problems in linear work processes.  The Old Work is focused on fixing the bad stuff and continuous improvement (of the old stuff).

But the New Work looks to bring everyone together in a living Community to discover, reconfigure and make new combinations of strengths to innovate. They look to discover through stories the deepest level of engagement i.e. the positive emotional ‘white spaces’ between people – worker and customer – in ways that lead to imagining what’s possible and what’s next in order to co-create new forms of Social Good – this is a deeper idea of Flow.

Old Work Versus Future Of Work #FOW

Please contact us – we would love to have a chat about the topics in this blog.

For other posts in this blog series (coming soon), see:


Jeremy Scrivens is a Guest Blogger, Work Futurist, and Principal of The Emotional Economy at Work and a collaboration partner with Kinship around Social Business. Jeremy works with us at Kinship to design Positive Social Business Cultures to assist our clients to capitalise on the incredible new social technologies and global opportunities available for collaboration, business growth, sustainability and meaning. He is also a global player on Social Media, with a growing reputation as a thought leader and consultant on the future of work in the digital Age. @JeremyScrivens Connect on Linkedin.

SOCIAL BUSINESS - The Future of Work Blog Series: In this 11 part blog series, Jeremy tells the story of Blue Water Utility as it is transforms from a traditional single Enterprise managing in part to a global Social Business engaged with its Ecosystem in Wholeness for Social Good. 

Listen to Jeremy talking about Lean Social Business

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