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A recent Forbes Article caught my eye: 3D Printing In-Stores Is Very Close and Retailers Need to Address It. I have been writing and thinking about the impact of 3D printing for some time. At the 2014 International Leadership Associations Annual conference and later at a Global Conference in Panama City, Panama I spoke on the future of work and more specifically my book The Open Organization. My discussion focused on the nature of organizational structures. I outlined the scenario that was pushing us toward more open flat organizational structures. One scenario I presented was focused on the idea that we will become a maker society. Springing off the emerging 3D printing, I challenged the audiences to imagine a world in which we were able to print products we ordered off Amazon or other retail websites from our desk on our 3D printers. For larger products I posed the idea that we might pick up our order from a corner store – much like going to the local drugstore to get our film developed. I talked about how this would disrupt manufacturing, logistics, and retail itself. I surmised how this could produce new products and services not yet imagined as a result of the maker society. New cottage industries of 3D print shop drive through pickup windows and one hour delivery could possibly emerge form this era. Perhaps we will see companies begin to switch from manufacturing products to producing and distributing raw materials we could purchase for a host of items. The Maker Economy could end much of retail as we have grown to know it. Already, malls around the U.S. are shuttering their doors and windows as they can no longer compete with the likes of Amazon and Walmart. Retailers who imagine a new reality will be left as other fade into retail history [Think Block Buster and Sears].
The Maker Economy will disrupt business and government in the way we view laws, negotiate tariffs and how we identify and engage an already fractured workforce. When dealing with laws, suppose we used a 3D printer to print a pair of Adidas Shoes – Who will actually own the product? Who could own the data produced from 3D scanning your body? Would the website selling the design own it or could they sell your specific dimensions to other retailers? Imagine targeted advertising that now depicts you wearing the product that the designer is trying to sell you on.
We want the obvious answer to be that the end consumer would own the product and their data. But, what if printing a shoe or uploading your 3D scanned files signified your agreement to lose control of your data or to even “borrow” or lease the shoe for the life of the shoe itself and that once the item has reached its normal end-of-life it must be returned for recycling? Imagine how this could affect not-for-profits that collect and distribute old cloths. Or – what if the designer of the shoe could sell advertisement space on the product you just printed? All of these questions and more come to mind.
The dawn of the Creator Economy is upon us. With the election of Donald Trump many have surmised that we will see a manufacturing renaissance in the United States. I would argue that we will, but it won’t be what we might have imagined it to be. As 3D printing improves, the manufacturing in the US will likely hold another 10 to 20 years before the Maker Economy hits full swing. With the emergence of 3D printing, we will see the carbon footprint of manufacturing decrease as they switch to support a mostly raw materials output. We will also see technologies and techniques related to recycling improve and become mainstream. Intellectual property laws will need to be re-imagined to protect the branding of products produced by individuals. Prototyping will also change the speed at which products reach markets. Houses, cars and everyday objects will be readily accessible anywhere in the world in which the end producer has access to the Internet and a 3D printer. 3D scanning will revolutionize the knock-off counterfeit industry. Mining and extraction of raw materials will increase as we source raw materials for our 3D printers. Cottage recycling industries will take on the status quo and we will find new ways to improve the economy. 3D printing will revolutionize health care. We will see technologies increase whereby we can start to grow replacement parts that are built from our own DNA thereby ending organ rejection and waiting lists. Pharmaceuticals will also be challenged in this new era of Maker Me. The Maker Economy is sure to shake up the world. Now is the time to plan for change and to minimize its impact.
Dr. Philip A. Foster is a Thought Leader focused on the Future of Work and the 21st Century Workplace. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available on Amazon. He is an Ambassador to the OpenSource.com community and holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight from Regent University, Virginia. You can contact him at http://www.maximumchange.com
In 2014 I published what is thought to be the seminal work on the subject of Open Organizations. My goal was to present a text that provided a template for developing an Open Organization.
Nearly a year after my book was published, Jim Whitehurst CEO or Red Hat published his book The Open Organization. Igniting Passion and Performance. What I love about Jim’s book aside from the cool title is that he approached the subject from his perspective as a leader leading an Open Organization. Jim’s book put skin on the idea of Open. I would argue that Jim humanized the concepts. It is one thing to write about an organization from a case study perspective and an entirely new experience when the writer is living it out in real time.
Since the publication of my book, I have continued researching and writing on the subject of Open. I am proud to say that I am now an active member of the OpenSource.com group as an Ambassadors and Open Evangelist. Because the idea of an Open Organization is still evolving I felt it time to produce a 2nd edition of my book and address some of the changes. While most of the text remains the same and changes were mostly mechanical in nature, there are four major changes in this edition. They are:
You might be wondering what comes next. I will continue to publish articles, blogs, and videos on the evolution of Open Organizations. I am also writing my next book which will focus in on some key elements of the 21st century organization.
To get a copy of The Open Organization 2nd Edition – visit Amazon HERE.
Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available on Amazon. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight from Regent University, Virginia. You can contact him at http://www.maximumchange.com
We live in an emerging globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers. More than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in their traditional offices to work from home, coffee houses and just about anywhere in the world in which they can connect to the Internet. Leading the 21st century dispersed workforce brings its own challenges and requires new attitudes, approaches, and technologies. It requires leadership that is willing to step out of the comfort of the corner office and explore rich new possibilities of workforce engagement. It requires a higher degree of understanding communication, culture, collaboration, and empowerment.
“We live in a time of unprecedented globalism. Businesses, people, and economies are tied together in ways we could not have imagined 40 years ago. Organizations must now compete within a global landscape where clients and even the workforce are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. Organizations are networked and interlaced around the globe through the Internet and mobile technologies. Crossing and operating within cultural boundaries must become a skill of the leaders and followers of the future. Organizations of the future must become culturally literate if they are to successfully compete under these emerging paradigms.” – Philip A Foster, The Open Organization, 2014
As we witness the emergence of a globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers, more than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in the traditional offices for the coffee house office or what I like to call the Coffice. A cloud based workforce is nothing more than a distributed or remote employee who is not bound by geography, time zone, or national boundaries. These employees are connected to colleagues via technology and therefore are able to work more flexibly via the internet.
Leader flexibility is the key to creating an atmosphere where each employee can become more excited about where they work and more importantly what they are working on. As the world becomes more globalized, the need for a flexible cloud optimized workforce is more evident. With a remote workforce comes the need to re-imagine and retool leadership for the remote worker. What is certain is that the way we approach and engage leaders and followers is quickly changing. There are challenges ahead as we assimilate into the new realities of a distributed cloud based workforce. Leading the charge for change is and will continue to be our Millennials. By the year 2025, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all work will be held by this generation. What is certain – change will happen whether we embrace it or not. As the 21st century organization continues to seek greater flexibility, organizational leadership must also evolve to the pressures and realities of a globalized economy.
While traditional leadership relies on formality, power, and proximity to followers; the Organization of the 21st century is emerging as a nontraditional structure in which authority is not vested in positions and human capital is dispersed geographically. Organizations will begin to abandon traditional leadership pedagogue for leaderless, self-led, and an empowered autonomous workforce. As hierarchies begin to collapse, leaders must learn to adapt to new realities and what it means to lead a more culturally diverse dispersed workforce from a distance.
As our reality shifts, leaders must learn how to communicate more effectively; engage human capital differently; embrace cultural nuances with diplomatic precision; and empower employees. The shift toward a dispersed workforce requires confidence and an abandonment of old models of employee engagement. The new way of working is not for everyone. These changes will require discernment in the on-boarding process. Because Communication is so different in the dispersed setting, employees must leave ego behind and walk with assurance that they questions are important enough to ask.
Things are shifting – organizations are changing. Engagement of employees will change. We can either prepare for the inevitable or bury our heads in the depths of a 19th century hierarchical structure. In the end, you can change or you can become irrelevant. The choice is up to you.
Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia.
Many that follow my work know that I am deeply focused on the 21st century organization. Specifically, what it means to lead, follow and otherwise operate a business in this new century. I have often made the bold statement that we are witnessing the greatest shift in managerial protocols and organizational leadership since Frederick Taylor adopted the Scientific Management approach in the 1890s. For many the shift is nearing seismic conditions. In fact, the models we use to define an organization or even an employee is shifting faster than we can comprehend. With this challenge comes the problem of how government regulators approach the emerging concepts. How government regulators define and recognize organizational models and practices have profound effect on everyone involved. Allow me to offer a case study to expound on how such problems in defining the new organization has devastating effects on business owners and their human capital. I have a dear friend and colleague who is working on gaining legal status with a goal of Citizenship in the United States. All he is asking for is to extend his L1A visa which is an intra company executive transfer visa. It was denied for a reason that says “we don’t see that you are doing executive tasks.” While I do not pretend to have all the details, I do have a grasp on the fundamental problems in his case. He owns a micro-corporation. A micro-corporation is one that has a small number of employees and engages in building alliances with other consultants and professionals in their respective field. He, in essence, has a distributed workforce of professionals available to meet the needs of his clients. An interesting fact is that his organization has been growing substantially. His company grew from over $125,000 in 2013 to nearly $700,000 last year. He has actually hired full time employees who work directly on the payroll of his company. My friend’s business model is the epitome of an emergent 21st century organization. I should also note that he has paid income tax on both his company and his personal income. His company is very much a legal entity within the context of the state in which his company resides. Here is where the rub comes. The United States Government does not recognize his micro-organization as a true company. They are having a hard time grasping that he is actually a business owner and thusly have denied him Legal Status here in the United States. Not only has he been a tax payer and upstanding citizen, his family is here with him and his children attend American schools. The government has said No to him. In my opinion – they have said no because they don’t understand the new economy. They don’t understand the realities of a globalized, distributed workforce model. I give you this case study as an example of the immense mountain we must climb to help regulators change their view of what a business is much less what an employee is. A recent poll shows that by the year 2025 over 50% of the working population in the United States will be freelancers – consultants. If these trends play themselves out, we are anticipating this number to increase to over 60% by the year 2040. It is unacceptable for regulators to define today’s business under an outdated, out-of-touch context. The time is now for society to catch up with today’s reality of our workforce. We can no longer afford to define organizations using 19th and 20th century ideals. Unfortunately getting the government to change their opinion is a slow process.
Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We often hear that change is constant. The truth – disruption is constant. In fact, life is filled with constant disruptions. In the news recently, we see images of the earthquake in Nepal with over 5000 reported deaths. Even hikers on Mount Everest were disrupted by the quake. On a more benign front, I recently traveled to Canada for a conference. On my return flight I had a layover in New York. My flight was scheduled to depart the gate at 4:05 pm. We didn’t pull back from the gate until near 5 pm. My life was disrupted by an hour.
Delays during travel are not unusual. The problem – I didn’t plan for a disruption. My life – much like yours – is filled with disruptions. Some disruptions are life altering – like in Nepal – and others are general annoyances. How we prepare for the possibility of disruption makes all the difference.
Most of my work these days is in helping organizations think about the future. While no one can know the future with certainty – we can begin to consider a preferred future as well as emerging realities within our world. I believe that a great leader is constantly asking “What If”. What if a new technology emerges? What if the market crashes? What if there is not enough human capital to fill the available jobs? Asking these questions help us to develop the thought space of disruptions as well as the mental model to deal with those disruptions.
Consider this as an example. In 1989 it was predicted that by the year 2000 less than half of the working population would be in full time employment. In 2011, a Gallup poll indicated that the number was less than 45%. If we continue this trend out to the year 2040 we are looking at less than 30% in full time employment. As this scenario continues to work itself out, I wonder whether organizations are ready for a disruption like this. Is your organization optimized for a contract labor force? Will you be able to compete with little or no full time employees?
Scenarios like these are not meant to scare but to create a thought space of solutions. It is much like a disaster recovery plan for the organizations strategy. While it is great to have an idea of our preferred future, we must also consider those things that might get in the way. Sometimes these disruptions create a better future while other scenarios create more difficult options. Thinking through these possibilities ahead of a disruption is always better than trying to put out a fire while it is happening.
Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – 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 email@example.com
I was talking with a friend recently and he lamented that his employees email him over everything. Without hesitation, I told him that someone in his organization must have taught them to do that. Either knowingly or unknowingly someone has modeled this behavior. It was not necessarily done with malice. He went on to say that a former supervisor had caused some issues internally and it was at that moment it occurred to me that his culture had the flu. Cultural flu is passed to unsuspecting individuals through behaviors and actions. You see, culture is very much the central nervous system of an organization. Organizational culture, like any culture, holds our beliefs, values and behavioral norms. While they may not have intended on creating an organizational bottleneck, the presence of certain actions may have modeled behaviors that eventually infected other members within the organization. Organizational culture is very interesting to study because it is so pervasive. The problem we encounter is that when one is immersed long enough in a given culture, we begin to grow accustom to the norms and may even participate in those norms knowingly or otherwise. Once a cultural norm has been established, it is difficult to change it. We can use a fancy phrase called cultural relativism to describe what happens when you take on a cultures belief system. Simply put, we will defend what we hold to be true; even when what we hold to be true is not healthy or helpful. I would caution that culture should not be a scapegoat for every problem an organization encounters. Sometimes our problems begin with bad leadership, ineffective training, or poorly designed processes. Regardless, each could play to the bigger problem of how the culture of an organization is changed over time. While change is never easy, beginning to identify and address these cultural issues is important to your organizations long-term success. As an organizational doctor, I would prescribe a regime of assessments to help determine whether your organization has a cultural flu. Once identified, we can begin to develop an approach that is specific needs of the organization. The pathway to a healthy organization runs through the organizations culture.
Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 216-5667.