Future of work

Open plan offices reduce collaboration? A powerful argument for measuring collaboration

Ben Proctor – Sartori Lab

The rather counter-intuitive idea that open-plan working might reduce the rate at which people talk to each other has been getting quite a lot of coverage recently, no doubt for man bites dog reasons. This post goes beyond that to ask a vital, but less obvious, point – that we can’t know what environments promote or detract from collaboration without a clearer sense of what we mean by it and how we might measure it. In other words, even – or perhaps especially – in the case of an apparently mundane issue such as office layout design, evidence-based iterative test and learn approaches really matter.

And in the week that the new UK Government Estate Strategy was published, that may be particularly pertinent.


Please do not adjust your set

It’s been three weeks since Strategic Reading was last updated and the last weekly summary sent out to email subscribers. If you had noticed the void in your reading life, apologies. As is well known, strategists are not always as gifted in predicting the future as they like to think, but the intention is now for normal service to be resumed.

Future of work

What does good work look like in the future – and how can we get there?

Benedict Dellot and Fabian Wallace-Stephens – the RSA

The RSA has established itself as a source of insight on the future of work and the intersection of technology and employment, avoiding the hyperbole and hysteria which all too often characterises work in this area. Now they are building on that by setting up a Future Work Centre to explore these issues systematically. That’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

The launch event at the RSA was recorded and can be watched here:

Organisational change

What makes a great leader, explained in eight counterintuitive charts

Shane Snow – Quartz

disagredable+altruistic=angelic troublemakersThe two by two matrix is perhaps the most overused tool in the history of management thinking and has come to symbolise slick and superficial consultancy advice. So it takes a certain amount of bravery – or perhaps foolhardiness – to attempt to explain leadership through eight of them.

It’s not a completely successful attempt – some of the axes feel a bit forced – but it packs a lot into a small space. And who, after all, would not want to be an angelic troublemaker?


Need a strategy? Let them grow like weeds in the garden

Henry Mintzberg

What counts as good strategy – and good strategy making – is a subject of endless debate, up to and including the limit argument that having a strategy at all is a sign of failure. This post is a good reminder to people with strategy in their job titles (and blog titles) that clarity and direction are not the only characteristics of a good strategy. It’s always possible to write a pithy description of an organisation’s future, but being easy doesn’t necessarily make it the best approach. Strategies can emerge from below, they don’t have to be imposed from above.

Strategies grow initially like weeds in a garden; they don’t need to be cultivated like tomatoes in a hothouse