The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is currently deep into discourse in association with the UK Government into what Good work means – inclusive of a #GoodWorkIs campaign, and more – to find what would improve the work environment in the British economy. Much of the argument revolves around whether good work should be government policy or a business challenge.
Interestingly, before getting into the debate of policy, the better baseline question (or argument) should be on the basis of “meaningful” work instead of “good” work – especially as it relates to the human spirit.
With so many definitions of “Good” floating around, and changing based on whether the perspective is from the company, the employee, the customer and varying other constituencies. The “good” outcomes of work done by AI or Automation could easily settle one of the core arguments for providing good product. But, as mentioned elsewhere, that leaves a bunch of humans out in the cold.
Conversely, “meaningful” could be derived in ways that are alternative to what we’ve always thought was the working norm of having a 9-5 and getting paid for it. Someone who is able to volunteer their time to help a company or individuals could be quite meaningful, but being paid for it and putting out good product is just as meaningful. And, ultimately, there are infinite forms of meaningful felt differently by infinite types of personalities and belief systems.
This is why business entities and organizations need to be restructured in a way that makes them malleable and more open to change and diversity – all while supporting the inherent possibilities across all constituents. At Kaleidoko we feel that Companies/Institutions/Brands need to move beyond positioning values and tactics, to embrace something we have called a ‘Brand OS’. The OS (Operating System) is MEANT to be built upon as it is simply providing a framework for others to carry forward, that all may flourish meaningfully – and in the end, help come to define what the entity actually is.
The ramifications of an interchangeable or modular system are huge as the workforce and business challenges continue to evolve at such a dynamic pace worldwide. No longer can someone expect to stay with any firm for an entire career. Gig-economy resources and practices are ever-increasingly seeping into the fabric of even the most consistent or blue-chip businesses. Automation is causing concern and personal re-evaluation across all sectors. The largest growing constituency within the workforce is often more concerned about social responsibility than quarterly earnings reports. Vast swaths of all generations are remaining in a job just so that they can support their family – and the available time to spend with that family is diminishing. All the while, companies are bemoaning loss of good staff after training them because the working atmosphere wasn’t maintained as optimal.
All of these examples – and more – point to the need for a baseline system that embraces the human spirit, provides a seamless integration and puts all players in the best light possible. If you go old-school back to the Atari gaming system, the box and joystick controllers all looked the same. Even the game cartridge that the player inserted looked the same except for the sticker covering its face. From there, the OS allowed for many types of games, animations, challenges, scoring and storytelling. Adding onto that layer was the individual player’s skill and commitment. Had a game only allowed a player to reach a certain level and been done – without a meaningful sense of completion – it would have been a complete loss. Changing our lens to focus on business, how many times in do we see this outcome of limiting potential consciously or unknowingly?
Good OS (think Apple, Windows, Android) allow for many to play in the same sandbox to create infinite possibilities utilizing a clear and understood framework. Of course, OS upgrades are essential (and society will force upgrades as tastes, technology and economies evolve) but without an OS framework, the ability to change or even let a bit of variance into the system will be resource-prohibitive. Who knows? The Brand OS of the future may allow for less hours worked at similar rates in a trade-off for achieving the life/work balance we all pay lip-service to. Perhaps it will provide clear alternatives for personal growth when automation pushed a body out of a chair into another thoughtfully considered part of the company. Even further, might such a strong OS not only result in longer tenures of staff, but tail-end opportunities for meaningful benefits into retirement?
An OS allows for meaningful interactions and connections. It allows for humans to connect in tangible ways that build relationships that mean more than cubicle proximity or reporting structure. The elevation of all (inclusive of types) for a common meaning is what is needed – and it’s what a proper Brand OS provides the groundwork for.
So, the question still remains; Are you looking for GOOD or MEANINGFUL work?