Aspirations, Blessings and Curses of Working Remotely
One of the most significant ways the COVID pandemic impacted work has been to get much more of it done from home. Subscriptions to extra bandwidth and virtual meeting platforms skyrocketed. People’s imaginations and their capacity to make new things happen and change their work habits accelerated overnight.
Working from home impacts organizations and lives in many different ways, sometimes very profoundly. This article seeks to explore some of the many dimensions of working remotely (whether this is from home or not).
Many organizations have been working remotely for years. For over a century garment-making, jewelry production and professional writing were done from home or from home-based ateliers. So was much call center work in more recent years. Even ten years ago about 40% of IBM’s nearly 400,000 people were “telecommuters”.
From its inception GitLab, an international software company, had no offices and now it has 1300+ employees from over 70 countries (see a “how-to” of remote collaboration here).
This year the tech giants – Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft – all announced big and permanent changes to accommodate more work from home. Many others are doing likewise. This is not only COVID-related because there are huge potential increases in efficiency to be exploited.
Not all work can be done remotely today.
Imagine you are implementing a transformation program in your organization. You have it all spelt out with the fashionable jargon of our times. A new vision for a new business model which came from heaps of Out-of-the-Box design thinking. With entirely customer-centric systems using state-of-the-art digital technology (and of course chatbots, actionable analytics, big data, internet of things). A lean and agile operation with plenty of scrum will implement this model which will empower everybody to think smarter and act faster. You might even celebrate a few failures. Oh and (how could I forget?) the truckloads of artificial intelligence you poured in to make it happen.
Then humans move in to spoil it all. Bastards! Really now? If you really thought the innovation roadmap you showcased on paper (or on powerpoint slides) would move everyone to action, then your own intelligence must be artificial.
Cranky old fogies, arrogant pricks, short-sighted accountants, unimaginative bureaucrats, scheming silo sheikhs and comfortable chieftains are the usual suspects. But the most dangerous foes are in fact the most unlikely foes, good people.
They are probably good in managing yesterday’s technology and have good knowledge and tight control over today’s systems in operation. They are always ready to service new demands, if only users would express their wishes more clearly. But they hate the new generation of geeks and nerds.
Are Parkinson’s Law and the Peter Principle relevant to innovation?
Parkinson’s Law and Change
10 people write 10 reports in 10 hours. If you hire 10 more people how many reports will all 20 people write in the same time? 20, right? Wrong! According to Parkinson’s Law it’s still 10.
Published in 1942, the theory states that “work expands to fill the time available to complete it”. The reasoning is that first, managers crave power and more people to order about and, second, more people create more work for each other. Parkinson’s Law has often been used to victimize the civil service, but it is valid for all organizations devoid of good leadership and permeated by an unimaginative work ethic. It is more valid for report-writers than it is for widget makers or salespeople, whose output is easier to measure.
Innovation is anathema to rigid outfits because it involves redesigning work. When it becomes possible through re-engineering (1990s) so 5 people and a machine can generate 100 reports, or through digitalization (these days) so 5 people and a cloud can let users generate any report they might need, the Parkinson crowds get angry. Their power structures and jobs are threatened and they mobilize to deny or resist the new developments. This is why “lean” and “agile” have become buzzwords today.
The Peter Principle and Innovation
Now imagine you are an invisible spirit looking around an organization. How many incompetent managers do you see?
PEACE through ENTREPRENEURSHIP - How Businesses can be a Force for Unity.
During the Cold War, Germany’s Bavarian Forest National Park and the Czech Republic’s Sumava National Park were separated by electric fences, barbed wires, watchtowers and heavily-armed guards. In 1989 these barriers were removed, so protected animals such as red deer could roam safely and freely in the entire territory. Despite the change, herds of deer on either side of the border still remained hesitant to cross the Cold War line. Czech and German zoologists monitored the deer migration behavior with GPS satellite collars. Even after a generation, where no living deer would have encountered the barrier in their lives, Cold War behavior persisted among these otherwise thriving herds. *
For those not familiar with Cyprus politics, the country is politically divided, movement is restricted and there are two different authorities and sets of laws. A “Green Line” with Turkish, Cypriot and UN troops’ presence, constitutes a physical barrier between the two sides. Negotiations for unification and peace have not to date succeeded. The people of Cyprus, who are mainly of Greek or Turkish culture, live mostly apart. Most real contact between the two sides happens through NGOs, political and peace activists advocating re-unification. Efforts to initiate meaningful business relationships have floundered on laws and political positions jealously guarded by each side.
Enter CyprusInno, an intercommunal organization founded by Burak Doluay and Steven Stavrou, a Turkish-Cypriot and a Greek-Cypriot, committed to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the island. CyprusInno and the British High Commission, with the help of data analyst Aysem Zorlu, conducted an island-wide survey published in March 2020 on the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Cyprus**.
Trust is, by definition, a gamble. Trusting is about taking risks - for a job to be done, for an agreement in good faith, for sharing information openly, for honesty and integrity in a relationship. It comes with the responsibility to deliver what one has been entrusted to deliver.
Micro-managers don’t do trust, preferring instead to have work done in their own set ways. Good leaders, on the other hand, thrive in empowering people to do new things in ways these people judge best. These leaders know very well that in the process they might sometimes take a hit. They will also be frequently surprised by the ingenuity of those they have trusted. And they will develop new leaders. Trust is an act of generosity - a wager on other people’s professional expertise and human integrity.
Disruption, by definition challenges an existing order in new and surprising ways. These days, we value disruption – at least the one caused by humans – for the benefits it brings. However, as new things happen, many people face significant changes in their work and lives causing defensiveness, apprehension and fear. This is especially so when people are not themselves the prime instigators of disruption.
Trust does not just happen passively, it happens when it is actively promoted. Leaders who promote trust and involve people in the transformative process have better chances to successfully navigate disruptive times. With empathy, compassion and good specialist expertise, people will more eagerly take responsibilities and risks in full solidarity with one another.
As a leader you have a permanent responsibility to maintain high trust with all your stakeholders, especially in disruptive times. Start by noting “what have I done today to increase trust?” and do it every day.
It’s a gamble, a noble one.
COVID-19, Innovation and New Opportunities in the Crisis Forum participation organised by the University of the Aegean (in Greek) Join me on Sunday 24 May at 1
«Covid-19, Καινοτομία και Νέες Ευκαιρίες Μέσα στην Κρίση»
Ανταποκρινόμενο στις έκτακτες ανάγκες που προκλήθηκαν από την πανδημία του κορονοϊού (Covid-19) το Τμήμα Διοίκησης Επιχειρήσεων του Πανεπιστημίου Αιγαίου εγκαινιάζει την νέα πλατφόρμα επικοινωνίας Financial Business Forum (FBF), η οποία θα διοργανώνει ανοικτές και ελεύθερες συζητήσεις της ακαδημαϊκής κοινότητας και των φοιτητών μας με όλο τον κόσμο των επιστημών.
Στόχος του νέου εργαλείου επικοινωνίας του Τμήματος μας είναι να φιλοξενεί διαλέξεις και συζητήσεις υψηλού επιπέδου που ακολουθούν τις αρχές της ανοικτής πρόσβασης στη γνώση. Ο σχεδιασμός της πλατφόρμας καθώς και η υποστήριξη της έγιναν υπό το καθεστώς των συνθηκών αποκλεισμού που προκλήθηκαν από την πανδημία. Το υλικό αναπτύχθηκε με εθελοντική προσφορά των συντελεστών, σε συνθήκες περιορισμού της κυκλοφορίας και με περιορισμένα διαθέσιμα μέσα και χρόνο στα πλαίσια της πρωτοβουλίας του Τμήματος μας να επικοινωνεί με τους φοιτητές του συνεχώς.
Την Κυριακή 24 Μαΐου 2020 στις 19:00 μμ., ξεκινά με την φιλοξενία της πρώτης δημόσιας διαδικτυακής συζήτησης (webinar) με θέμα: «Covid-19, Καινοτομία και Νέες Ευκαιρίες Μέσα στην Κρίση»
Η συζήτηση θα μεταδίδεται ζωντανά στην ιστοσελίδα του Τμήματος Διοίκησης Επιχειρήσεων του Πανεπιστημίου Αιγαίου και στα Κοινωνικά Δίκτυα (YouTube και Facebook), ώστε όλοι (φοιτητές, απόφοιτοι κλπ.) να έχουν εύκολη και ελεύθερη πρόσβαση όπου κι αν βρίσκονται.
Στόχος της συζήτησης είναι να παρουσιάσει στρατηγικές καινοτομίας και εμπειρίες από τη διεθνή και την ελληνική πραγματικότητα για τη δημιουργία νέων επιχειρήσεων, τη βιωσιμότητα τους και να αναδείξει τη σημασία της ευρηματικότητας μέσα και μετά την κρίση πανδημίας Covid-19.
Στην συζήτηση συμμετέχουν οι κ.κ.
• Μιχαηλίδης Ντίμης, Συγγραφέας και Σύμβουλος Καινοτομίας Επιχειρήσεων
• Σάμιτας Αριστείδης, Καθηγητής Χρηματοοικονομικής, Τμήμα Διοίκησης Επιχειρήσεων του Πανεπιστημίου Αιγαίου
Τη συζήτηση θα συντονίζει η δημοσιογράφος και παρουσιάστρια κ. Πόπη Τσαπανίδου, η οποία θα δέχεται ερωτήσεις από το ακροατήριο και θα τις θέτει προς συζήτηση.
Για να συνδεθείτε μέσω της πλατφόρμας Ζoom με δυνατότητα συμμετοχής στη συζήτηση κάντε απλά κλικ εδώ:
You are invited to a Zoom webinar. When: May 24, 2020 07:00 PM, Athens
Topic: Covid-19, Καινοτομία και Νέες Ευκαιρίες Μέσα στην Κρίση
Για να παρακολουθήσετε τη συζήτηση ζωντανά στο ΥouΤube θα βρείτε το σύνδεσμο στη σελίδα Facebook (πατήστε εδώ):
Contact me if your answer to any of the above is yes. From May 1st I shall be offering online training customised to your business needs in my areas of expertise – leadership, creativity and innovation. From 5 to 50 participants. From 30 minutes to as long as you like, one hour at a time, maximum of four hours in a day (with breaks).
Spending too much time watching a screen and listening to one voice is tiring and boring. This is not how good strategy is crafted or how organizations and teams can evolve. So much more is achieved by energizing the knowledge and skills brought in by each member and forming a shared vision. Whether it’s time for strategy or time for customer care, time for disruption or time for consolidation, time for serious thinking or time for fun (or both), the best outcomes arise when short and feisty collaborative sessions alternate with individual reflection.
All my sessions are engaging and interactive with your organization’s requirements and your people’s moods in mind, and with my own expertise.
Contact me for a conversation at email@example.com or tel +357 99 67 11 73.
Training for Cyprus-based companies may be eligible for HRDA subsidies.
Σε αντίθεση με νεοφυείς εταιρείες που η ύπαρξη τους περιστρέφεται γύρω από καινοτόμες λύσεις, οι εκτελεστικοί υφισταμένων οργανισμών γνωρίζουν πως η καινοτομία, για να πετύχει, υποχρεωτικά συνοδεύεται από σημαντικές αλλαγές.
Το webinar αυτό ενδιαφέρει διοικητικά, διευθυντικά και συμβουλευτικά στελέχη εταιρειών και δημοσίων οργανισμών.
Μετά το webinar θα είστε σε θέση να:
• Αναγνωρίζετε τους παράγοντες που προωθούν τη καινοτομία.
• Σχεδιάσετε οδικό χάρτη καινοτομίας για τον οργανισμό σας.
• Αναγνωρίζετε τους παράγοντες που εμποδίζουν τη καινοτομία.
• Πραγματοποιήσετε αλλαγή κουλτούρας και προσωπική αλλαγή.
Το webinar αυτό θα πραγματοποιηθεί στα Ελληνικά, έχει διάρκεια 75 περίπου λεπτών, είναι δωρεάν και ανοικτό σε όλους.
Τετάρτη 22 Απριλίου 2020 στις 19.00
Για εγγραφή: https://bit.ly/2X1xm6W
By the turn of the 21st century the reality of the accelerating pace of change is sinking in. Learn how to better confront change with creativity.
During this webinar we will offer
• Various insights into different levels of change
• Five tips to boost your creativity
and you will be invited to share your ideas on the challenge:
In what ways might work change as a result of the coronavirus crisis?
This 60-minute webinar is free and open to everybody. It will be held in English through the ZOOM platform. Connect online with a computer or other device with video and audio 5-10 minutes beforehand. You may prompted to download the ZOOM app.
To register please click here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FYeyQ2ZxRZycHbKzx3mJEw
World Creativity and Innovation Week is an international community dedicated to seizing the infinite creative potential that awaits us every day. Its purpose is to encourage people to use new ideas, make new decisions, and take new steps towards making the world, and your place in it, better through creativity.
WCIW begins on Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, April 15th, as an homage to his revolutionary vision. Founded in 2001 by creativity expert and Canmore resident Marci Segal, the celebration has now flourished to people celebrating in over 50 countries every year - in their businesses, schools, associations, organizations, communities and homes. The UN has recognized April 21st, the last day of this week, as World Creativity and Innovation Day.
Covid-19, it’s testing how we use our creativity.
Creativity does not have values, people do. Even as the biological effects of Covid-19 are the same for all, its overall effects on the haves and the have-nots, the well-governed and the badly-governed, the selfish and the altruistic, the close-minded and the open-minded will be quite different. Even when fighting a common enemy the creative faculties of people in different situations with different values are bound to be deployed differently. Here are some realities that impact the depth and breadth of our creativity.
Global creativity and local reactivity. Two different realities in our present world order have become obvious. The first is of a world that is highly interdependent and, indeed, there has been unprecedented exchange of knowledge between countries on Covid-19. The second, is that the forces of execution of public policy are governments of nation-states and this has led to a dogged concentration on the plight of one’s own. These realities could produce reasonably efficient mechanisms for dealing with coronavirus on a global scale, only if the spirit of international collaboration does not yield to xenophobia, which is also raising its ugly head.
Technical know-how and human skills. Two other realities affect the ways we operate in this crisis. Our advanced specialist know-how and practice in many areas – medicine, health management, equipment, essential supply chains, security, communications and much more – are invaluable in helping us cope with this crisis. However innovation is shaped by culture – the way people absorb and use technology. We would be nowhere without the human skills needed to relate to others, to win people’s trust or to gain acceptance for public programs which involve sacrifices. Without these our innovations will be at best underutilized.
As we face Covid-19 can we help open values win the day and can we use our human skills to ensure our technology is serving humanity?
Keynote speaker, author, trainer and consultant in Leadership, Creativity & Innovation.