Before the compass was invented, we used stars. Now we navigate with global positioning systems. Over hundreds of years, human ingenuity, aka disruptive innovation, has changed the way we arrive at our destination. Similarly, human ingenuity has transformed the vehicle we use to get around: from horse to cart, to car, plane, and the soon to be, rocket. Innovation from human intelligence has been this way for millennia.
But since the mid-nineties, a new type of progress has rocked up in the market square.
“Disruptive innovation, as it is being called, is what happens when technology and human ingenuity meet, and extraordinary things become possible and scalable across the globe.”
A spare bedroom previously used a couple of times a year provides a reasonable second income, a car unused during working hours can made available to hire and running a business banking account can be done from a mobile phone.
Disruptive technology creates new markets by creating new categories of markets. So, a private house becomes a private hotel, a private car is a taxi or for private hire, and a bank is an app. By the use of new technologies, new business models and exploiting old ways of doing things our world and ways we relate to each other changes.
And just as innovation, now showing up as disruptive innovation, has changed, the tectonic plates of how we sell our individual ability to reason, labour, produce and create is changing. Liz Ryan, a thought leader in the career space, describes the disruption in the world of work thus, “The days of trusting your career to your employer are long over. The new millennium workplace requires us all to rewrite the rules and start treating our careers like we are running a business – which means understanding the markets for our talents, knowing our value and looking out over the horizon to plot our paths going forward”.
At Career Matters, we know this because we are talking to the companies wanting to improve employee engagement. They know they need to if they are to survive and prosper. If companies are consulting us to help them make authentic and deep-rooted change, they are feeling the zeitgeist. This indicates an opportunity for individuals who want to innovate their working culture or create a career and environment that other people want to be involved in. Individuals who want a thriving career and to make an impact.
Disrupt your workplace
If your company wants to hit the Sunday Times rankings of Best 100 Companies to work for, it will be interested in two key indicators that show up in Employer Hit Parade:
Employee engagement in the company ethos, and
Employers that treat staff as people – not resources.
Great companies focus on giving back and doing good – whether this is pro-bono work, volunteering days, financial education programmes, outreach to a diverse student population or contributing to positive social impacts, as we do using the buy one give one philosophy – or B1G1.
Innocent the drinks company has a mission is to help people ‘live well and die old’. The company donates 10% of its profits to charity, an annual gift averaging more than £1m in the past five years, and it’s come in at number 3 on the Sunday Times list of great companies to work for. It could be they know something about employee engagement.
If you feel disengaged at work, but would like to make a change, you could offer to start some sort of pro bono scheme. A career conversation might be a good place to bring it up, there are many avenues to investigate and it could make a difference to how you feel about your work. It might also create a new career direction.
Change your working hours
It may be the case that some workplaces may not be able to respond to your private needs. That you want time to pursue a hobby, go to sports day, be present at a funeral, see your children, care for an aging parent, or any other reason for needing flexible working hours, may just be your business, unless you can show how it can benefit them.
If you’ve been turned down or are thinking of putting in an application for flexi-time, work on a strategy. For a start Employment Consultants Liberty Mind have found:
79% of employees feel held back in life due to lack of flexitime
44% of employees say that flexitime would help them feel less stressed
17% of employees say flexitime would allow them to have a hobby
This article is a source of data and advice to help you. Ask for a career conversation with your manager and let them know how flexi-time would benefit you and the company. Make it informal and personal before putting in an application. Or find colleagues who also want flexi-time and consider a group application citing up to date research into how companies benefit from employees on flexitime.
Failure to treat staff as little more than a resource can be fatal. A deep lack of motivation and productivity along with the loss of goodwill are the likely immediate outcomes. This is deadly to any company and there is clear evidence that incorporating flexibility into the workplace is the future of employment.
Innovate and disrupt your life
It may be that the environment in which you work is just not conducive to you doing your best work. At Career Matters, we believe the environment can make or break a happy career. Take Anne Boden, founder of Starling Bank. She left traditional banking for the agile world.
Recruited into the finance sector after university her career included helping architect the CHAPS payment systems. She worked through the financial crisis, legacy systems and the bureaucracy of the big banks. As she says
“I’d experienced people trying to replace the existing system and it taking too long and costing too much. I wanted to start from scratch.”
So, she did, and in four years she has disrupted the banking industry with her Starling app.
We call it the start of the Hero’s Journey. It is that moment or series of moments when it becomes clear you need a radical re-think of the role you are playing in your own life. It is time to consider who you want alongside to share the ride. It is when you step up into the position of leader and stride out into the world with your band of merry men and women.
How technology is disrupting ambition
What the most ambitious people choose to do with their lives has a profound impact on society, the economy and culture.
In medieval times they would join the church, later in history, the military would be a more attractive arena and latterly finance has been where many ambitious people have sought to express their gifts and make an impact.
Now the vista is changing – according to the founders of Entrepreneur First. Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford believe the next platform for the truly ambitious will be the tech startup. So, they set up a Venture Capital funded company builder.
A what? Well, it’s a company that disrupts how a company is made. Yes, this disruption stuff can really go down the rabbit hole. Twice a year, EF brings 100 ambitious and talented strangers to its HQ in South London. Some of them will have left extremely prestigious jobs to join. They arrive without a team or even an idea. Six months later, the successful ones depart as co-founders of brand-new companies. The bit in between is made up of finding a business partner, working on an idea, and getting funding – except there is a lot more to it than that – but you get the drift.
The old way of being lucky, finding a co-founder among your social network, being in the right place at the right time is replaced with ensuring you’re in the right place at the right time to build a globally important company.
Each of us has a different understanding of what success looks and feels like. Without connecting to our own unique expression of who we are we are doomed to experience employee disengagement. We are now living at a time when we can take more control over how and where we work, by making big or small changes, whatever circumstances you are in.