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Life Imitates Art

November 11th, 2007

In a previous post from May I coined the phrase Employee 2.0 in a somewhat deprecating manner to emphasize the distinction between the current Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 trends and my (and other’s) view of the important trends emerging in the workspace. Proving Life Imitates Art, Oracle, the very next month, released their Employee 2.0 product suite - a Web 2.0 application dog pile. This has forced me to use a different term to capture the emerging properties of the new workforce. A member of this workforce is a MObile KNOWledge worker in the best sense of Drucker and so I will refer to them as MoNo’s (pronounced mōnō).

To review there are several factors that have led to the emergence of this new paradigm:

  • The shift to an information economy.
  • The financial responsibility for retirement has moved from the company to the employee.
  • The rate at which people change their jobs and redefine their careers is accelerating (statistics show that workers between the ages of 18 and 38 change jobs an average of 10 times).
  • The growth of Mobile Devices, Telecommuting and the evolution of the “Road Warrior”.
  • The evolution of Agile Methodologies and the emergence of the Agile Enterprise.

In this new model small agile teams come together in a loose confederation to achieve a common goal. The team members may never meet face-to-face and may not even work for the same company. The fact that these teams can face rapidly evolving objectives requires the teams to be highly flexible and adaptable. Team members may be involved in several such initiatives with constantly changing priorities across the initiatives. They may be in different time zones (globally dispersed) and therefore rarely able to all meet at the same time or even on a regular basis. This ‘asynchronous’ approach to team interactions means the traditional business process management approach is no longer adequate to meet the needs of the team members. A new and more natural way of working, independent of the traditional office structure, is emerging.

The new way of working is already showing up in the Agile Methodologies emerging in many organizations. The US Army employs the concept of the Commander’s Intent to state the objective in irreducible terms allowing units on the ground, in the “fog of war”, to make tactical decisions without losing sight of the ultimate objective. In software development, methodologies like Scrum allow teams to work from a list of desired features but allows maximum flexibility in how the team is organized and how the work is accomplished.

These agile approaches require new tools to support the distributed collaborative efforts. Team members need to be able to pick software features and functionality that supports and facilitates the work they need to accomplish. In the Web 2.0 space this is commonly referred to as a ‘mash-up’. The same concept exists in the component-based assembly approach made popular by the Eclipse platform. Eclipse is based upon the OSGI approach to assembling applications from a components contributed by multiple sources. Java developers using the Eclipse IDE can assemble the collection of features and functions that best support the way they work. It is time for the MoNo to be able to take advantage of the same approach in the execution of their work. Where is the equivalent application for tasks like planning, budgeting designing in a collaborative environment?

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