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Spinuzzi - The Past Future of Work


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A presentation I gave for my 2010 South by Southwest Interactive panel, What Coworking Tells Us about the Future of Work. Includes presenter's notes.

A presentation I gave for my 2010 South by Southwest Interactive panel, What Coworking Tells Us about the Future of Work. Includes presenter's notes.

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  • 1. What Coworking Tells Us About the Future of Work Liz Elam, LINK Coworking Drew Jones, Shift101 and ShiftWorkspace Clay Spinuzzi, University of Texas at Austin Gary Swart, CEO, oDesk Sunday, March 14, 2010 1 Thanks for coming... Introduce panelists... 7-10m per, then Q&A. Hold applause.
  • 2. #what-coworking-tells-us-about-the-future-of-work-at- south-by-southwest-interactive-2010-dot-com Sunday, March 14, 2010 2 This is our hashtag. If you’ll include this in every tweet...
  • 3. #sxswcw Sunday, March 14, 2010 3
  • 4. The Past Future of Work Clay Spinuzzi Twitter: @spinuzzi Sunday, March 14, 2010 4 For fun, let’s start with perhaps the best-known futurist, Alvin Toffler. He sold a lot of books, and I remember seeing these everywhere when I was growing up: used bookstores, garage sales, Goodwill. (He sold a LOT of books.) His most famous ones were...
  • 5. 1970 Sunday, March 14, 2010 5 1970’s Future Shock ...
  • 6. 1980 Sunday, March 14, 2010 6 1980’s The Third Wave, “The book that makes sense of the exploding eighties” ...
  • 7. 1990 Sunday, March 14, 2010 7 and 1990’s Powershift. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see three kinds of predictions in Toffler’s books.
  • 8. Three kinds of predictions • Flat wrong • Dead on • The “80-percenters” Sunday, March 14, 2010 8 (read)
  • 9. Flat wrong. Sunday, March 14, 2010 9 Plenty of what Toffler said turned out to be dead wrong. For instance, he predicted that by now we would have ...
  • 10. 1980, p.143 Sunday, March 14, 2010 10 space colonies ...
  • 11. 1970, p.191 Sunday, March 14, 2010 11 undersea villages ...
  • 12. 1980, p.148 Sunday, March 14, 2010 12 and cushions made from genetically engineered mammary tissue.
  • 13. (No, really.) Sunday, March 14, 2010 13
  • 14. Dead on. Sunday, March 14, 2010 14 But the truth is, despite these way-off predictions, Toffler got a lot of things dead on. For instance ...
  • 15. 1980, p.186 Sunday, March 14, 2010 15 the death of secretarial pools. Toffler looked at personal computers in 1980 and predicted that soon secretarial pools would disappear as executives typed their own documents.
  • 16. Adhocracies “man will find himself [sic] liberated, a stranger in a new free-form world of kinetic organizations. In this alien landscape, his position will be constantly changing, fluid, and varied. And his organizational ties, like his ties with things, places, and people, will turn over at a frenetic and ever- accelerating pace.” “managers are losing their monopoly on decision-making” 1970, p.125, 140 Sunday, March 14, 2010 16 He also predicted in 1970 that work would be reorganized from departments to projects, attacked by transient teams of specialists: knowledge workers. In these “adhocracies,” cross- functional teams change in composition and leadership shifts during different stages and different projects.
  • 17. 1990, p.8 Sunday, March 14, 2010 17 Related, he predicted that knowledge work would become the preeminent form of work in our economy. All true.
  • 18. The “80-percenters.” Sunday, March 14, 2010 18 But to me, the most interesting predictions are the ones he ALMOST got right: the ones that are plausible, but happened differently because of one thing he overlooked. The most pertinent:
  • 19. 1980, Ch.16 Sunday, March 14, 2010 19 The “electronic cottage,” in which people would exit offices and go back to work in their own homes.
  • 20. “Soon we may see the rise of movements demanding that all work that can be done at home be done at home. Many workers will insist on that option as a right.” “Put the computer in people’s homes, and they no longer need to huddle. Third Wave white-collar work ... will not require 100 percent of the work force to be concentrated in the workshop.” 1980, p.203; 199 Sunday, March 14, 2010 20 Toffler saw that with more and more work being knowledge work, people could install computers in their houses and perform their work from home - i.e., telecommute.
  • 21. “We might also see groups of home-workers organize themselves into small companies to contract for their services, or, for that matter, unite in cooperatives that jointly own the machines. All sorts of new relationships and organizational forms become possible.” “neighborhood work centers” “dispersed work centers” 1980, p.205; 200; 205 Sunday, March 14, 2010 21 And yes, perhaps theyʼd want to get out of the house sometimes, so maybe theyʼd go to local coops. But their choices would be limited. Why? Because they would need a network connection. And where would they get it?
  • 22. A satellite “makes it possible for each company to have, in effect, its own electronic postal system.” 1980, p.190 Sunday, March 14, 2010 22 From the mega-corporations that employed them. Because only giant corporations could afford to loft their own telecommunications satellites into orbit to connect their employees!
  • 23. The missing 20%. Sunday, March 14, 2010 23 This made perfect sense in the absence of the “missing 20%”:
  • 24. Sunday, March 14, 2010 24 Pervasive and cheap Internet connections delivered through independent telecommunications companies ...
  • 25. Sunday, March 14, 2010 25 powerful mobile computers, affordable to individuals ...
  • 26. Sunday, March 14, 2010 26 and mobile telecommunications, inexpensive enough that even tweens could afford them.
  • 27. Sunday, March 14, 2010 27 These three technologies have really changed the present - and probably the future - of work.
  • 28. A third space Sunday, March 14, 2010 28 Theyʼve allowed people to work in “third spaces”: coffee shops, libraries, parks, hotel lobbies, McDonaldʼs, etc.
  • 29. BUSINESS business Sunday, March 14, 2010 29 Theyʼve opened up telecommuting and mobile work to small businesses, not just big business: freelancers, partnerships, contractors. Theyʼve enabled virtualized organizations. And theyʼve accelerated the transition to project-oriented work - and adhocracies.
  • 30. “the new production system relies on a combination of strategic alliances and ad hoc cooperation projects between corporations, decentralized units of each major corporation, and networks of small and medium enterprises connecting among themselves and/or with large corporations or networks of corporations.” Castells 2000, p.96 Sunday, March 14, 2010 30 Theyʼve allowed more work to be outsourced. Companies retain their core functions, but they contract other jobs.
  • 31. Sunday, March 14, 2010 31 And theyʼve generated a “pickup” economy in which people reach out through their personal networks to assemble todayʼs team, to find contractors, to be contracted.
  • 32. n Adhocracies Sunday, March 14, 2010 32 These are adhocracies to the nth power. But in a pickup economy, how do you find your team? How do you network?
  • 33. Sunday, March 14, 2010 33 Increasingly, itʼs through that third space, that coop that Toffler got about 80% right. People without offices find themselves meeting in places like coffee shops. But coffee shops are noisy, unpredictable; you canʼt get a table;
  • 34. Sunday, March 14, 2010 34 you canʼt maintain confidentiality. You donʼt know who else is there. You havenʼt been able to develop trust. And you need a place where you can develop trust if youʼre going to work effectively in an adhocracy.
  • 35. Coworking “Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.” Wikipedia, “coworking” Sunday, March 14, 2010 35 For the past year, Iʼve been visiting such spaces - coworking spaces in Austin. In these spaces, people work in relatively unstructured locations with unstructured schedules, share resources, form friendships, barter services, serve as tech support and emotional support for each other, subcontract each other, mentor each other, form businesses, and above all, network.
  • 36. Serving ... • “Mamapreneur, papapreneur.” - Laura Shook, Soma Vida • “People out here are roaming because they have to.” - Andrew Bushnell, Cospace • “30 to 40 year olds ... who want to get out to the office because the kids and the dog don't understand that they're on a conference call” - Liz Elam, LINK Coworking • “Freelancers tend to do stuff virtually .... But then one of the benefits of having this space is you get to sit down next to a group of people and work on projects face to face.” - Dusty Reagan, Conjunctured Sunday, March 14, 2010 36 Coworking spaces serve different people, groups and industries...
  • 37. Aims • Work-life balance: “Our work space allows you to have dedicated time to concentrate and accomplish tasks, while working within a community of entrepreneurs, free spirits and individuals looking for more balance” - Soma Vida website • Mentoring: “We just want to sit next to this guy and just soak up everything he leaves behind [about running a small business]” - Andrew Bushnell, Cospace • Collaboration: “I'm not going to let you go be on your island.” - Liz Elam, LINK • Swarming: “A project gets dropped in, we can swarm to kill it, disseminate, and keep flowing.” - John Erik Metcalfe, Conjunctured Sunday, March 14, 2010 37 They have different aims...
  • 38. Sunday, March 14, 2010 38 They have different ambience...
  • 39. Sunday, March 14, 2010 39
  • 40. Sunday, March 14, 2010 40
  • 41. Sunday, March 14, 2010 41
  • 42. Commonalities • “People have different social needs ... being human, you need some social interaction.” - Cesar Torres, Conjunctured • “That's the one thing the Internet social networking, all of that stuff you cannot replace face-to-face.” - Liz Elam, LINK • “So really the community aspect of it is what's made it be so easy for us to keep growing. Because everyone keeps feeding it.” - Andrew Bushnell, Cospace • “I think it makes people reach their potential more when there's that supportive container, than when you're kind of spinning your wheels in your own isolated bubble.” - Sonya Davis, Soma Vida Sunday, March 14, 2010 42 But they share a commitment to connectedness, networking, collaboration, and entrepeneurship.
  • 43. A new urban space “The individualization of working arrangements, the multi-location of the activity, and the ability to network all these activities around the individual worker, usher in a new urban space, the space of endless mobility, a space made of flows of information and communication, ultimately managed with the Internet.” Castells 2003, p.234 Sunday, March 14, 2010 43 As corporations continue to outsource non-core functions and as knowledge work becomes more prevalent, expect to see more of these - and more variations on adhocracies.
  • 44. Photo credits Slide 8: Public domain , Donald E. Davis, Slide 9: CC, SpacePotato, Slide 10: CC, Esther Perez (esther17), Slide 13: CC, Waikay Lau (seychelles88), Slide 17, 26: CC, Kevin Fox (kfury), Slide 20: Image credit: NASA, Slide 22, 25: Public domain, OCal, 2/1208185285896971921coredump_Glassy_WiFi_symbol.svg.hi.png Slide 23, 25: CC, Ryan Jones (ichibod), Slide 24, 25: Public domain, Slide 29: CC, Ed Yourdon (yourdon), All others: Spinuzzi Slides will soon be up at Sunday, March 14, 2010 44 Photo credits With this panel, weʼve tried to represent different views on coworking. Next up is Liz Elam, whoʼs going to give us her perspective on coworking as a for-profit business.