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Gen Y, Hollywood and a new way of working

by Mel Starrs on May 28, 2009

in Management

I’m a big fan of Charles Handy and his Hollywood model as I have mentioned before here, here and here.

A post from Paul on team working and BIM caught my eye recently:

…but I find that some of the issues relating to adoption of BIM are simply an extension of the issues faced in adopting any kind of collaborative approach. This usually boils down to an assertion that successful collaboration only 20% technology, the other 80% is all about people and process.

This, I think, applies equally to BIM. And others echo my thoughts. … in respect of the need to build teams, to get people out of their old-style silo approaches and embrace an integrated, collaborative approach. He seeks to encourage:

  • Trust (commitment that we were all working together)
  • Enthusiasm (that this was an exciting group of people to work with, and that it was a good project)
  • Appreciation (of the various skills that everyone brought to the project)
  • Mutual respect (often based upon previous project experiences)

The workshop process he advocates sounds very similar to the approaches employed on numerous UK projects undertaken on a “partnering” basis since the 1994 Latham Report. He also favours the co-location of teams.

This was closely followed by a post from Dave Pollard on Gen Y and a preferred style of working:

An interesting side-effect of this that I’ve observed in organizations with many young people is that, to Gen Y’ers, the ‘costs’ of compliance with ineffective constraints (processes, restrictions on software access, and rules) quickly exceed the value (job security), so they are finding workarounds that bypass these constraints and set up ‘markets’ for other ways of doing things (use of processes that they’ve imported from friends’ organizations or from previous experience, or use of free commercial software tools). The use of these unapproved ‘insecure’ processes and tools has set the stage in many organizations for a culture war between the older, command-and-control style of senior management and the new, peer-to-peer, workaround-based style of Gen Y’ers, powered mainly by social networking. As Shirky puts it (and Dave Snowden has illustrated in many case studies) “employees do better at sharing information with one another directly than when they go through official channels.” It enables them to do their jobs more effectively, and for many employees (especially the young) that’s more important than doing what they’re told. The result is an epic battle for control of what goes on in the organization, and in fact for control of the organization.

The move towards a new way of working seems inevitable to me in the next ten years (I’m being cautious with my timescales here). The ‘perfect storm’ of an increasingly disaffected workforce, a recession (which so far seems to have spawned many freelancers through choice or need) and the growth of the tools necessary to work in this ‘new’ collaborative way has enormous potential.

What does this mean for the industry? For clients, it brings both benefit and risk. This way of working will be cheaper for the client but less ‘legitimate’ than dealing with large consultancies. For instance, does the client have a contract with each and every consultant or is there a better way to broker such work?

And what does this mean for the large consultancies? Are they going to have to compete with the world of freelancing? What impact will this have?

The key, and current sticking point, as Dave Pollard alludes to, is the marketplace or brokerage network for managing relationships and legal matters. LinkedIn is a start but it’s not quite there yet. Does anyone know of anything which exists currently?