The ‘Age of Choice’ – CIPD NAP 17 Ignite Session


For those who weren’t able to catch my Ignite session at the CIPD NAP17 conference – here are the slides and main points under each.


If we are to enhance the employee experience, we need to close the chasm that has grown between the modern world, and the world of work. This means looking hard at our organisations, and moving away from workplaces that are suited to the Industrial age…


…or even the Information Age…


…and instead towards a workplace that meets the needs of our age: The Age of Choice.

The rapid pace of change in society has left our approaches to work behind and we need to close this gap if we are to take advantage of our development.


An example is the perimeters between humans and technology – the organism and the machine. These perimeters are not only blurring, but the new possibilities are available in an infinite number of flavours.

People born into a tech world play with technology, they explore and experiment with it in the most creative ways. They don’t go on training courses and they don’t read the manual.

So when we bring those people into the workplace why do we give them a standardised, ‘off the shelf offer’? Why do we block out that creativity and playfulness?


We are also seeing a move away from binary options. Increasingly, we are not required to choose between ‘Male and Female’, ‘Boss and Employee’, ‘Conformist or Radical’.

The world of social media has enabled us to connect with an infinite number of others. We can follow, mute, block, promote or mash together. We can create our own play lists.


Our paradigms – the models that we use to make sense of the World – have also changed. Whereas once these would have been the solar system, the Church, the patriarchal family unit, now our model is the Internet.

The Internet has no centre – it is de-centred – it has no top or bottom, it has no edges. There is an infinite number of possible routes and no map. It moves, shifts and is ultimately unpredictable.


So why are we still thinking about the organisation and the workplace in terms of linear progressions rather than flows? Why are we still set up to think about promotion from sweeping the factory floor to Managing Director, from University, to Employment, to Retirement? Our careers can’t look like ladders anymore – they need to be impossible to map.


The new network is de-centred, but remains very much a network. People need to connect, to plug into one another, so how does our idea of ‘organisation’ affect that with its divisions, silos, departments? And what about our external walls – the brick walls. How do we enable our people to plug into our communities and how do we enable them to plug into us?


This newly de-centred world isĀ  populated by nomads. People for whom there is no target destination but a constant process of movement and exploration.

How much are we trying to fence these people in? How do our systems – our pension schemes, our long service perks, our reward strategies – enable or disable this way of working?


With this move away from binary options, and towards an explosion of complexity, are our organisations still based on narrowing rather than widening options. Do we try and constantly simplify rather than explore decision making. How do we embrace a more sophisticated appreciation of what humans can do, and computers can’t.


Do we still have hierarchies that look like straight lines and ladders? Do we still have a pyramid of balding men – or are we able to deal with individuals who make different contributions but whose credibility is drawn from their actions rather than their status?


So don’t be afraid of humans being replaced by machines – that won’t happen. We do though need to understand these new humans. Those who grow up in the de-centred network with ‘always on’ technology. Those who want to select and unselect and build their own identity and ways of working with no obvious career paths or expectations.

This isn’t generation X, Y or Z.

This is Generation Cyborg – and everything is about to change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: