Future of Work : Making the Leap in the 21st Century

Margot’s first degree at the University of Sydney was a Bachelor of Education. She moved to Darwin where she headed up Darwin Family Centers. This organization provided child care and family support for the families across the top end of Australia. It was while studying for her MBA that she started working as a business consultant, at the youthful age of 24.Margot works with some of the world’s top companies at executive level, helping organizations in times of crisis, such as after mergers and takeovers.

She mentors numerous leading international business figures and conducts workshops and conferences. She is the author of "Approaching the Corporate Heart", ISBN 0-7318-0655-7, Simon & Schuster.  

Margot is Chairman of Zaffyre International, and can be reached at mcairnes@zaffyre.com. See also her websites at www.zaffyre.com  and www.margotcairnes.com


On a recent trip to the US I visited several colleagues working in the field of business and social research to shoot the breeze on how business can successfully make the leap into the 21st century. The message was strong and consistent and best summed up by John Naisbitt (author of the Megatrends series) who advises: "Think globally act locally". The experts agreed, as the world is becoming smaller and innovation and information even more accessible, the places to achieve radical competitive advantage are close to home. Competitive advantage comes through developing our own potential and our strategic and personal relationships.

It is the very rapidity of change that will make relationship and personal transformation the keys to strategic success. Information technology makes data instantaneously available to anyone who wants it. The pace of step-gain is determined by how quickly and effectively organizations make use of that data and incorporate it into their ways of thinking and operating. At the same time that we scan the world for information we need to be adapting our own ways of thinking, operating and relating so that we can make speedy and optimum use of what we find.

The trick here is that we are much better at scanning the environment than we are changing our thinking, learning new ways of behaving and making our relationships work. Furthermore while gaining information operates from the outside in, changing ourselves works the other way. We are conscious of less than 10% of our own thoughts, feelings, psychological responses and body memories. It is almost as if we are running our lives on remote control, which is fine when we can program the course ahead and the destination. In changing times this is obviously impossible. What will the banking industry look like in ten years, the experts say its beyond current imagination. What about telecommunications or manufacturing ?

It is estimated that by the end of this century less than half the workforce in the industrialized world will be working in what is currently considered a "proper" full time job. Those who are will be expected to operate at a level of performance that we would currently find daunting. Predictions like these cause many people to deny that they will be effected, others get angry and still others depressed. I find it all very exciting.

If we need a step-change in our performance and if relationship and personal growth are the key to ongoing success, then the fact that we are using less than 10% of our potential presents us with a wonderful opportunity. While organizations around the world are tinkering with incremental changes we possess an untapped treasure trove of possibility which is almost limitless.

There are, however, a few catches. Tapping our inner resources requires different skills and ways of looking at things than scanning the world for emerging trends and data. Personal growth requires time for reflection, courage to face what we discover and ongoing personal support - preferably from a trained professional. Moreover there is no real personal change without emotional involvement. The un-chartered waters of our mind, body and spirit are found through a journey that is both cognitive and emotional. Most leaders have been trained to keep emotion out of business and in many cases have shut down emotionally in most areas of their lives. In doing this they cut out the very source of learning that is going to help them achieve the peaks of success of which they are capable. The link between thought, action and change in humans is emotion and spirit. Quantum leaps in performance will be easy when leaders become as good at facing themselves, processing their emotions and running their relationships as they currently are at dealing with the more tangible aspects of their world.


© Margot Cairnes 2001

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