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Workforce 2.0: The Strategic Alliance Workforce of the 21st Century.

With the increase in media on the freelance/consulting workforce, I thought it might be good to revisit this blog.

Maximum Change Success Coaching

2025 and Beyond

As you walk into your home office, you set your Computer Anywhere Device (CAD) on your desk. The CAD, about the size of a silver dollar coin and as thick as a credit card, activates when placed on a flat surface. Sitting down, you lean forward and focus your attention on the holograph screen hovering over your desk. In the other room you can hear the faint chatter of your children as they attend school remotely. You speak, “CAD, date and time please.” In a clear voice CAD responds, “February 8th, 2025. The time is now 0900. Would you like to know your appointments and tasks for today?”  You briefly think to yourself how far computers have come in just a short period of time. In fact, you think, the constant we face is a world quickly changing before our very eyes.

For the United…

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3 Reasons You Need a Consultant

business_management_consultantsIf you own a business of any size there will come a time when you will need some advice. Perhaps you have a simple question or a complex issue. Either way you clearly know that it is not wise to go-it-alone. While there are a multitude of reasons you might need the service of a consultant, I wanted to highlight three key reasons you need a consultant.

First, there is a fresh new perspective to the problems you face. If you believe you know the answer then, by-all-means, go for it. Recently I received a request to quote on a project for a potential client. The client began to tell me what they thought the problem was and how they wanted it fixed. I asked them the tell-tale question “what if that isn’t really the problem?” They were adamant that the problem was the problem and that if I wanted the business I needed to quote the job as they requested. I softly pushed back and told them that I could not engage a project where I was given a predetermined problem and a predetermined solution without at least testing their hypothesis. While it is not a bad thing to think you might know where the problem is, it is not good to assume that there might not be more to the issue that you are able to see. This is why you need a fresh perspective. I’ve seen clients like the one described here. They will burn through thousands of dollars and numerous consultants, looking for the one that will prove them right. But, what if they are wrong? The business won’t grow, change, and improve without the humbleness to realize an outside perspective is not a bad thing.

Second, a consultant brings insight. I have over 24 years of leadership and business experience in an array of industry silos and business structures. I have two other colleagues I work with that equally have the same amount of experience. A consultant’s insight is not just from their work background but is built on every consultant assignment they have completed. In my case, I have literally thousands of client hours in experience. Because I have a fresh perspective, I am able to offer new ideas and insight toward the appropriate solution. As a leader, I want – No, I need to surround myself with people who have insight. I never want to be the smartest person in the room when I am trying to come up with solutions. Insight is a powerful tool when used.

Finally, a consultant helps you develop alternative solutions. Considering the client example provided above, the client clearly didn’t want to hear about alternative solutions. They had their mind made up about the problem and had a clear path to the solution. For the client, this is a train wreck waiting to happen. Business leaders need alternative solutions. What if I were to ask you how would you prepare your organization for a future 10 years from now? Would you know what to consider? Would you know how to build a scenario profile? Perhaps you do… but do you have the time to research all of the potential disruptions on your event horizon? Or, do you have the know-how to facilitate and analyze a cultural assessment or leadership profile for your team? Perspective leads to insight and insight leads to alternative solutions. It is the knowing of which tools to use and how best to operate them.

The best consulting relationships I’ve entered are collaborative. When you can work with the client to create effective lasting solutions – it is powerful. You need a consultant because you need a new perspective. You need a consultant because you a fresh insight. You need a consultant because you need lasting solutions to your challenges. Wise counsel is a good thing. For that reason alone, it is always good to have a consultant available to you.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic PIC3Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent book “The Open Organization” is now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com or (615) 216-5667.

Where have all the employees gone?

Empty office with boxes and one chairIn a recent Wall Street Journal Article “U.S. Could Face High Unemployment Through 2030” (Read Here), it argued in part that by the year 2030, unemployment could be as high as 11 percent. If you have followed any of my writing for the past couple of years, you would know that I had already sounded the alarm. In fact, with the current trends forecast out we are facing an unprecedented time in the availability of a skilled and qualified labor force. By one estimate, we can expect less than 35 percent of the workforce in full time positions by the year 2040. The numbers are staggering. With an estimated population in the United States in 2040 to be roughly 382.2 million, we are looking at 65% of the population without full time work. The chart below offers a rough estimate of what can be expected within the next 26 years:

Cohort (2040)

Number in Millions Percentage

0-19 (too young to work)

84.05 22%
Unemployed 42.04 11%
Employed Full time 133.8 35%
Other 94.02 25%
70+ (retired) 28.29 7%

 

You may be asking why this is important today? I can offer an analogy based on industries, government, communities and individuals that did not prepare for the future. If we consider the auto industry for a moment, specifically focused on areas in which large manufacturing facilities were located. Detroit is a good example of how the industry changed and within a short period of time, the regions that supported the factories fell into demise. While there are many reasons why this happened, the fact remains that there was little attention paid to the future much less scenarios asking the question “what if the factory closed tomorrow.”  If you are a business leader you might want to ask yourself what a reduction in your workforce would look like. Start to look at what it would take to run an international, multimillion dollar organization with 50 percent less staff. How will a small or midsize corporation survive if they cut their human capital in half?

There are many pressures creating this reality. Truth be told, this is not something that just started happening in the past few years. In fact, the workforce began shrinking in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We have been on a slow decline for over 20 years. Pressures include a decline in fertility in the United States, a growing unskilled labor force, and a dysfunctional immigration policy that inhibits the entry of skilled labor while freely accepting unskilled labor without question.

How will we respond to these changes over the next 20 years? We can already see the results of this coming crisis. Technology is beginning to embrace robotics. Not just machines, but also software. Technology companies are developing artificial intelligence at a staggering rate. New technologies are emerging such as self-building robots and 3D-Printing just to name a few. Deficits include retooling and educating a growing unskilled labor force.  Organizations will begin to embrace more egalitarian structures in an effort to create efficiencies while maintaining a smaller organizational footprint. We will begin to see the freelancing and consulting as a growth industry. Remote workers will complete their tasks through the “cloud” and via video conferencing. This could have an effect on business travel and how we engage clients face-to-face. Clients will expect quicker response at a lower cost threshold.

While these are all assumptions, the idea is to think strategically about the future. Asking tough “What IF” questions and developing responses to mission-critical threats in the not-so-far-off future.

 

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic PIC3Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent book “The Open Organization” is now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com or (615) 216-5667.