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15.04.2021

Today, human “work” is increasingly migrating to the machine and AI is taking over more and more tasks from us. By doing so, it is only driving forward a process that has already begun. Many of the classic “jobs” have been the responsibility of the so-called “low-wage countries” for years. How contemporary is the term “co-worker” – at least in industrialized countries? Is there a change on the horizon?
The one “from co-worker to co-creator”?
(By the way: we always think diversely, even if we “sacrifice” the wording for the sake of reader-friendliness).

Work has a lousy image

In the ant-song from Tabaluga you can hear “Work is half of life …”. And indeed, there were times when a large part of the population of the industrialized countries would have fully agreed with this. And still today we encounter this confirmation from other regions of the world.

Although the term “work” is initially described neutrally as a “purposeful, social, planned and conscious, physical and mental activity”, it nevertheless has a “hidden agenda” attached to it. Work is usually associated with burden and effort, with complaint, and often with “unfair” working conditions. This attribution has its roots in ancient medieval times. And although the Christian, primarily Protestant religion has tried to give work a positive “image” and this was also emphasized again and again in the course of industrialization, it remained so – we still associate with work a matter of the socially lower classes.
It is poorly paid and performed by people with low education. These people supposedly need representatives who enforce their interests and leadership, since they cannot lead themselves.

Perhaps sociology could provide a remedy here. According to its definition, work is a process in which people enter into social relationships that are of central importance in the overall context of life; these include the structuring of time, social recognition and self-esteem.
And, honestly, that was a great try, but who would define “work” that way?

Co-worker, employee, colleague, ….

When it became clear that trying to correct this “hidden agenda” with optical polishes was not really fixing the problem, new names were created for the more modern or educated worker: Co-worker or Colleague and “Senior Associate” or “Executive.” In this way, they distanced themselves from the lower class, which, for example, also had hierarchical levels in the form of the foreman, and created a parallel world. With the familiar social conflicts. And then – for whatever reason – a compromise was reached in the world of Management 2.0+. All of them became the species “co-worker”. Employees of a company who are assigned to a manager. So much hierarchy was necessary after all. Although there is also an ambiguity, because managers are also employees and therefore actually co-workers.
To top it off, all of them are “workers”. Again, “work”. And whatever it actually means.

In any case, it sticks with the “worker”. With the whole worker story in the luggage. With or without a crown. More or less dependent.

Expiration of the term the “co-worker”

That somehow no longer fits the times, does it?
The term “work” is overdue now, at least in the age of the next big digital transformation. Even if it is still a central component of our understanding of the economy, primarily the national economy, which is still valid and characterized by performance thinking.

How unsexy it is today to see oneself as a “worker”. Who among us still wants to “work”?
The term “co-worker” has had its day; it simply no longer has any appeal or hardly any appeal.
At least the “work(er)” part is then best left for disposal. But what happens to the ” co-“?

From co-worker to co-creator
What exactly “co-” is and what does it mean? First of all, “co-“ means “with” or “also” and not “alone”. “Co-” requires others in each case. That is the spirit of the times. Today, we still talk a lot about teams, but now the idea of collaboration is gaining ground. The idea of creating something together. As opposed to every man for himself. By the way, collaboration has its roots in working together with the “enemy”. That really resonates with a lot of transformation potential.

Co-creation is therefore the current and forward-looking approach. There the “co-” is further in it. And something new. This is “creating” instead of “working”.

For some time now, a re-prioritization can be seen in people’s basic motivations. It is no longer the motivation to perform that is most pronounced, but rather that of influencing or shaping and that of connecting. In some sources, the basic motives are supplemented today by “freedom,” the motive that is currently becoming a shooting star. And “influence” as well as “freedom” have little to do with what we conventionally understand by “work”.

It really looks like the shift is coming: from co-worker to co-creator.

Spot on the “co-creator”

Assuming that the co-creator does exist, what distinguishes him from the “co-worker”?

First of all, a completely new basic understanding and a changed attitude. Designing or influencing something oneself does not mean waiting for a task to be assigned. It means becoming active, perhaps even proactive, and getting involved proactively. It is about ownership.

Energy that may be tied up in resistance in the “co-worker” is released in the “co-creator”. Creative potential and joy in self-efficacy can emerge.
What a benefit for the individual and the entire company.

At the same time, the requirements increase. It is important to deal with what one’s own contribution is, where one’s personal strengths lie and can be developed. Attentiveness and care for oneself and visibility in business take on a special significance. Courage is required to defend one’s own point of view. And resilience, should this not prevail with other co-creators. This can also be quite strenuous and takes those affected out of their comfort zone.

These are all future competencies that sometimes need to be developed first. An accompanying qualification offensive is certainly indispensable here.

Effects in the system

However, moving from ” co-worker to co-creator” is not done by changing the attitude and behavior of the “co-creator”.
It has an impact on the entire system and culture of an organization or company.

Co-creators have something to contribute and say, and they want to be heard. For this, it is necessary to create a suitable framework, formulate governance and develop principles of collaboration.

Co-creators have different requirements for their environment in terms of the type and location of the place where value is created. Here, a flexibilization of existing structures would be required. Mobile work and trust instead of control of times would be basic requirements. As would an understanding of which formats are suitable for joint creation and exchange.
Here, at the latest, we are in the center of the transformation to the “New Work” which is taking place anyway.

Leaders First

The shift from co-worker to co-creator can only be considered if leaders internalize and support the shift.
In fact, such an approach requires executives to be engaged in the transition even before implementation.

Co-creators, who take ownership, contribute themselves effectively and thus take over leadership through their role, make classic leadership unnecessary. New and future-oriented competencies are then also and especially required of leaders.

First, however, we need a mindset shift and the development of a supportive attitude in management and among all decision-makers. The following also applies to executives: From co-worker to co-creator.
This journey should be accompanied and begin before the “co-workers” set out on their journey.

Interested in going deeper? Gladly.
Please contact us.

You create the future.
This is something we’re good at.

06.09.2020

 

For some time now, the minds have been divided when we look into the future. Who or what will make the race? Machine or human? Or to put it better: if the machine, if digitalization takes its place – where will the human be? What remains of the human being? Where is his sweet spot?
Well, if human, then humane.

Digital determines the frame

The inspiration for this somewhat different case came from a recent experience. It was about a virtual pitch. A new external partner in the area of leadership development was to be acquired. In COVID 19 times such sessions are done remotely. And that has certainly its advantages. Especially in the scalability. More stakeholders can get an impression in less time. The decision is based on a broader data basis. A clear point win for digitization.

In the pitch, eight representatives from the client side were in the conference call. There were two of us: more participants seemed inappropriate for the short time frame. Everyone should have their own room – especially the potential customer.
A small window on the PC shared by ten people and a slide.

Remote and human

Meanwhile it is familiar to us, the calls with the 2-150 participants in their little windows. And yet these encounters are foreign to us as a result of our socialization. Especially in this new pitch application.
How should one behave there? When do you say what? What exactly do you say? What do you do when you don’t say anything?
First, you have to find your place in the machine. Until then, it is probably best to remain “neutral”.
With the conclusion: 10 static images meet. At the presenter a slide faces a human being. And 9 watch. Few people, a lot remote.

Communication in virtual space

One would not describe this as human. Something is missing. When communicating in virtual space, the atmosphere in the room is already missing due to the remote situation. If the communication channel “body language” is closed now, we are already quite close to machine language. And somehow it doesn’t really jump over. Nothing is created, except data transmission. In the case of a dialog, there may be mutual data transmission.

And the human being…

None of this really does justice to him. Deep down, he is insecure. He is missing something. The “nuances”, the reading of facial expressions and gestures and the interaction directed towards them. The magic that can arise from interaction and the appreciation that is felt when a reaction to self-expression takes place.
That would be human. According to the human being. If human, then humane. A member of the said pitch has done just that. Sometimes smiled, then pointed his thumb up or shook his head once. How wonderful. A feedback.

If human, then humane

The named pitch showed what characterizes our time. Indeed, this kind of interpersonal encounter cannot only be described in virtual space. There are several cases, also in direct contact, where we humans are next to each other instead of with each other. Where there is simply no reaction to emotional statements. Where neither body language nor the word is apparent.
That is digital, factual and neutral.

If it is to be alive, moving and emotional and thus human, which does justice to the human being, then it would be advisable to check and align your own mindset.

In which attitude do you enter into (virtual) contact with the other person? What is good for the other person/system? What promotes the development of the highest potential in the situation? What can one contribute oneself to make a spatially and/or objectively distanced process “human”? How can one’s own liveliness be expressed?

From the passive attendee to the active co-creator. This does justice to the human being. If human, then humane.

You shape the future.
With us it works well.
From person to person.

 

08.09.2020

25.07.2020

 

Things have got to change. The classic management structures no longer reflect the zeitgeist. For years now, one new management model has been chasing the next, countless “recommendations” are being made as to how an ideal manager should be “knitted” and there are also no shortages of alternative solutions at organizational level. More self-responsibility and self-efficacy is the credo. More self-leadership, in other words.

But how does leadership lead to a leader-shift?

It’s up to the executives…

Currently, in times of  home office and emerging smart work, they are once again under real criticism, the managers. They cannot allow a liberalisation of the world of work. And they fear an erosion of power and influence. They do not know how to manage their team remotely. Managers simply want to have everything under control. In general, they do not trust. And the current situation makes this really clear.

So say the statements of countless articles, studies and voices of the public. And yes, this certainly applies to some managers as well.

At the moment, it is also time to break the lance for the “entire population of managers”. Many representatives I have met in my role as a coach over the past years have their hearts in the right place. And a mindset that deserves recognition. Many have approached their task with idealism and a large number of innovative ideas. They have put a lot of strength and energy into their role. Many have braced themselves against windmills. And some have also failed because of it. Or have decided to go into adaptation in order to “survive” in the system. Which is also simply human.

Or the organizations …

It is worth taking a look at this very system or organization or company. Although “purpose” and “self-organization“, “agility” and “flat hierarchies” are on everyone’s lips, we are still far from realizing these ideas. Home office – yes of course, this is the new work format that will have to be taken into account more and more in the future. And Scrum & Co – has already been implemented where it makes sense.

However, most organizations are still classically in silos organized and the executive is more the manager than the leader. He or she is measured by numbers and results. Perhaps a human-KPI will also play a role at times. One under 10. The team is just a side issue. And for the individual there is the annual meeting. Personal aspects can be discussed there. If it weren’t for these annoying employee surveys and mood barometers, everything would actually be fine.

Especially since almost all of the organization’s managers have already completed the workshop series on “New Leadership”, “Agile Methods” and not to forget “Digital Transformation”. So now, anyone should be able to lead in the zeitgeist and according to the current conditions.

And the employees…

Let’s assume that we would change this term to “co-creators”. That would make a huge difference. First of all, the term “work” per se is not really the “burner”. And secondly, the question of how “added value” will be created in companies in the future is exactly that. It Is “worked off” or “co-created”.

This is primarily a mindset question again, which then triggers consistent follow-up considerations.

If one thinks of this in “work” and thus in a Tayloristic world view, there may be good reasons for structuring, placing orders and controlling. For those concerned, this is then “annoying”, often stressful and limited but also familiar and within “9 to 5” and their own “comfort zone” (if one can speak of comfort here).

One thinks that in “creation” then everything changes. First the own inner attitude. Then you have to change to selfresponsibility, self-expression and self-management. Then there is no one left to say where things go, that is taken over by oneself. And then it is presented and discussed in dialogue. Then mistakes are on the agenda and failure becomes an everyday part of your own actions. Then freedom becomes tangible. And consequence too. Then the comfort zone is shifted towards the growth zone.

From Leadership to Leader-shift

Assuming we are serious about organizational and leadership change – which is probably essential – it would be advisable to use the window of opportunity opened by COVID 19 to implement the change. Then it would make sense to consistently pursue the path we have taken toward liberalizing “work”.

However, a few essential aspects should not be overlooked. The mindset-shift must accompany the structural change. It is not enough to implement “Smart Work”. The people in the organisation should also be willing and able to act as “co-creators”. Their contribution would be to take over self-management in their professional activities and thus contribute their part to the leader-shift. This is something that first needs to be learned.

Parallel to this, managers would have the task of enabling more people to take the step out of the comfort zone and into the learning and growth zone. To trust them, to encourage them, to accompany them, to create a suitable framework, but also to demand the shift again and again. This is certainly for one or the other a sustainable change of his or her own role. And that also needs support, e.g. through coaching.

Above all, however, recognition within the own organisation. If leadership performance continues to be measured according to the classic model and only with the previous KPIs, this will not work.

Instead, there should be a clear separation between added value and results (management) and the empowerment and effectiveness of the individual (leadership).

Here, the Shared LeaderShift model is recommended as a pragmatic approach.

Leadership is needed for the change from leadership to leadership shift. On the way to an increasingly self-organizing system in which human, especially emotional and creative competence, as well as artificial intelligence co-create and shape the future.