Professor John M. McCann
The Way We Work
Fuqua School of Business
Last update: April1, 1996
This class session focuses on the key trends described in my Digital Work CyberTrends Web document. A brief outline is shown below, with links to sections of the CyberTrends documents. This topic was covered in considerable depth in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune in an article series titled On the Edge of the Digital Age, with the most relevant articles in the Coming Trauma section.
- Technologies are leading to an American Perestroika and the rise of cyberspace as a workspace.
- Work in cyberspace may become like it was before the Industrial Revolution, when we were not tethered to an office and a clock.
- Perhaps we will all maintain our own personal virtual workspace, our Personal Memex, that we move from engagement to engagement, plugging it into the corporation's corporate virtual workspace. This workspace we do plug into may not be real, it may be a virtual office.
- We are witnessing the rapid rise of corporate virtual workspaces in the form of intranets, with multimedia playing an increasing role.
- We will collaborate over the internet, with video communication becoming increasingly common.
- We are witnessing the demise of the job, with the demise of the branch being the first incarnation of large scale, white-collar job loss. In the Digital Age, we will still work. We will still earn livings. We will still produce things
and provide services. But the majority of us likely won't go off to "jobs" each day.
- As we are witnessing the demise of the job, we are also witnessing the rise of the project.
- More importantly, we have entered an era in which the individual can create a big business within their PC. As George Gilder has said: "Computer networks give every hacker the creative potential of a factory tycoon of the industrial era and the communications
power of a TV magnate of the broadcasting era."
- This wealth-generating situation has arrived today for individuals who are leading the computing and network revolution.
- The technologies that are enabling this wealth creation by individuals are, at the same time, leading to the devolution of large companies. As companies downsize, we see entire departments disappear. The resulting company will likely not be a hierarchy, but have a new organizational form.
- The effect is a rise in the role of the individual.
- The challenge for this individual is to put his/her knowledge to work while avoiding knowledge worker hell.
- It is clear that individuals will have to be lifelong learners, and perhaps even educator.
- Very successful individuals, such as Tom Peters, are beginning to see cyberspace as the place to be ... they want to join the new life being created there.