Maynard Webb and Carlye Adler's new book, Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship, is both a "how to" for individuals and a wake-up call for organizations. Individuals get clear advice on how to evaluate their skills and navigate new work realities and opportunities. Organizations can use the same framework to think about the employees they have and how they might be getting work done in new, and likely more powerful, ways.
I've been literally and figuratively waiting a long time for this book.
I knew it was in the works and I've had the pleasure of working with Maynard on a university committee (he has served on Santa Clara University's School of Engineering Advisory Board). I had no doubt that this would be an interesting and thoughtful read from a respected source. I thank our School of Engineering and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for sponsoring our signed copies.
I say respected source because that is important to know before I dive into the edgy ideas in Rebooting Work. As I said in an earlier post, Maynard Webb is not a work "hippy" (he does admit to having long hair in 1974). His background includes early days at IBM, CIO of Bay Networks, COO of eBay, and CEO of LiveOps, where he is still chairman. He is not a guru with a change to peddle, but rather an executive turned entrepreneur who has a clear vision of work realities. He and Adler share in Chapter 1:
Work as we know it is such an oxymoron: we have record unemployment, yet companies can't find enough of the right talent....
...Workers who have the right skills and operate with a mind-set that they are CEOs of their own destinies are best positioned to be in high demand and will be afforded the most choice.
...given the incredible advances in technology and the amazing way in which the world is connected, you have more choices, It is your responsibility to seize the opportunity by embracing the technological tools available to you. You can do more than you've ever dreamed.... And many entrepreneurs with new technologies, companies, and services are enabling this phenomenon - many because they wanted to benefit from it as well.
Reboot to Take Advantage of Work Upgrades
They are describing a world where whether you work for an organization or for yourself, you are in control of that work. Our work (note that I'm avoiding the term jobs - jobs and positions are less the focus in the future than talent and work) is becoming more flexible, more transient, and as described for some in Rebooting Work, more rewarding.
This framework is at the heart of the coaching in Rebooting Work:
Focusing on Frame 2
My take is that if you work for yourself it is easier to be in control of a Frame 2 style, but I agree that you can be in Frame 2 inside many organizations -- and that those organizations will be getting the most from their workforce.
Take Facebook, described in Chapter 8. Their practice of Bootcamp, where every new engineer, regardless of level or experience, takes part in a six-week immersion program where many make a changes to live code in the first week. After Bootcamp, they pick a project, for a while. After twelve to eighteen months, they are urged to take a "hackamonth" and work on a different project.
Webb and Adler note:
One of the best aspects of these practices is what they foster long-term: relationships that defy boundaries. Bootcamp classmates and hackamonth friends will disperse throughout the organization after these programs end, but participants maintain the relationships they forged with each other and with the senior engineers who served as their mentors and coaches. This gives Facebook a cohesiveness and flexibility that's important, as its projects are deeply interconnected. It also gives engineers a view into other parts of the organization and provides them with many more opportunities.
For individuals, I've said this is, "...a shift from thinking about a job being something we do and have, to an understanding of the value we provide in the work ecosystem.... We apply our knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivations in the service of work opportunities. It's not that we are all "service workers," but rather that we make contributions in service of some work."
There are new skills required in such a world and Rebooting Work has great suggestions about how to start. I don't think Webb and Adler use the term CEO of Your Own Destiny lightly. Like a CEO, you'll have to be tracking trends so organizations you choose to work with will be around long enough to learn from, you need to stay on top of your skill set through lifelong learning, you need a network of supporters and mentors, and you need to work on personal branding and reputation. We may not all end up with Fortune 100 CEO salaries, but perhaps the many of the perks in terms of control and work engagement.
Other recent books have dealt with some of these issues (see Related, below), but I see Rebooting Work as bringing these ideas together with in a strong package and from a source with great credibility.
- Business Model You: A One-Page Method For Reinventing Your Career
- The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
- Makers: The New Industrial Revolution