Think: “Work Operating System”

“What got you here won’t get you there.” -- Marshall Goldsmith

In the Beginning

For over ninety years, we’ve been formally grouping humans into “work teams” to accomplish tasks. The work team model is attributed to Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne Works Factory experiments. At the time, the work team experiments were so compelling companies surmised grouping employees into teams would lead to a more efficient, motivated, and productive workforce. Over time, a manager-dependent hierarchical structure emerged where managers supervised specified jobs and resources. It turns out, the focus on jobs instead of work can be a barrier to innovating how work gets done. (Work Without Jobs)

A New “Work Operating System”

“The way we have traditionally organized work and workers is becoming increasingly obsolete. We are moving toward a new work operating system that will deconstruct work into tasks and projects that may be assigned not only to employees but also to machines and contingent workers in talent marketplaces. In addition, workers will increasingly be identified not as holding a specific job but as possessing a set of skills and talents that can be applied wherever the organization may need them.”


“Organizations that thrive will rely more on leaders and managers who are capable of assembling, selecting, assessing, developing, motivating, and articulating purpose and alignment for short-term teams formed by deconstructing and reconstructing work and workers.”


“This new agile, serial leadership will require leaders and managers to excel at human leadership as they perpetually reinvent work; construct more transient, deconstructed, and highly efficient teams; and blend humans with technology.”


— excerpts from, Are You Ready to Lead Work Without Jobs?

(MITSloan Management Review, Boudreau and Donner)

Leading Work Without Jobs

Updating your work operating system requires thinking about leadership in a new way. In this new model, aspiring and mid-level managers will be more visible within the organization. They will get leadership opportunities based on their leadership brand and their ability to automate job tasks and construct productive teams within your work operating system.

This transition is happening. The future of work will be high-performing teams (How To Build High-Performing Teams) lead by individuals who can effectively operate within an agile work operating system designed to leverage the organization’s talent.

Are your leaders still managing jobs? The way we work is evolving; leaders need to lead a new way. Contact me to discuss how leadership coaching can help your aspiring and mid-level leaders prepare for work without jobs.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The path to exceptional leadership starts here.

Schedule your free consultation - and take your first step.

© Pamela Coleman-Davis   |   Website by The Good Alliance