Knowledge Capital & Personal Development

Since more than 3/4 of the top-developed nation’s working population are engaged in the service sectors, the intellectual capital and varying levels of development of these people are a major factor in a nation’s competitiveness.

And so it is between competing firms.  They do similar things, with the same people, for similar clients, using similar technology at more or less the same prices.  However, data shows that there are wide differences in performance between competing firms.  Why is this?  What is the key factor that is different?

A business is comprised of a group of people who have come together to play a specific role in the success of the business.  If the business is to grow, then its people must grow.  If the people are small-minded, unmotivated and not very creative – then the business will reflect this.

On the other hand, if the team members see themselves as vital, contributing, and able to excel, then the business will reflect this also.  Many organizations invest time and money in the professional development of their people; however, they neglect their team’s personal development.

Investing in the ongoing personal development and training of your team is one of the best investments you can make.  If someone makes $50,000 a year and can generate you $500,000 in value, why not take this person and increase their skill, ability, talent, attitude and education, so that they can add a million dollars in value?

A $50,000 investment that brings a $1 million return is a very, very valuable asset.  There is no better investment that companies can make than in the education and development of their own people.

Areas of personal development include:

  • Relationship skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Emotional health and self-esteem
  • Personal responsibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Financial intelligence
  • Personal Leadership

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Project Work & Multifunctional Teams

A dramatic change in the structure of modern organizations is transforming the very nature of work.  The traditional position descriptions that are part of a formal, rigid, hierarchical organizational structure are changing into loosely structured, multifunctional virtual project teams.

These virtual project teams work across time zones and borders as part of multiple project teams.  They can be easily assembled and dissembled at the completion of the project.

Project work requires very different skill sets from traditional work styles of the past.  In the past, the organization was static, management was hierarchical, everyone met at the same location, and a lot of the work done was not measurable.

The organization of the future has little hierarchy, is flat in structure, and project oriented.

Attributes of project work:

  • Leadership can rotate from project to project
  • Team members work on multiple projects at any given time
  • Each project is a profit center
  • Relationships are formed instantly and may be disbanded at the completion of the project
  • Less infrastructure is required as support activities are more easily outsourced
  • Project work is more efficient as the outcomes of each team member’s work is readily measurable
  • As a team member’s skills improve, they can easily advance and perform different roles on future teams
  • Project work is exciting and stimulating for the team members
  • Each team member experiences a sense of completion when the project is fulfilled
  • A team member can be located anywhere on the plant
  • Knowledge is readily transferred from one project to the next
  • Each team member takes individual responsibility for the outcome of the project
  • Team members are self-motivated and take initiative

The most significant benefits of organizing around multifunctional project teams is the ability of the team to respond to change, to innovate and to produce a higher quality result for a lot less cost than the traditional structure.

“Organizations aren’t the visible, tangible places which they used to be. You can describe what they do, but you can’t see it.

If information is the raw material of the work, then there need be no common space at all. Place and time are now independent of one another. Global organizations will pass a project to a chain of groups around the world to keep pace with the time zones.

Some organizations are, in reality, little more than “boxes of contracts” with suppliers, agents, and specialists of one sort or another, with no visible presence at all.

The new organizations are always tending to be slightly out of control, their structures flexing, their people innovating.”

– Charles Handy

It is important to note, that this new organization structure doesn’t replace the existing traditional infrastructure – they coexist side by side.

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Unprecedented Change

We are living through one of the most profound periods of transformation in recent human history.  Our world is changing at an unprecedented rate.  The way we live, the way we work and the way we do business are changing dramatically.

No longer is it an option to maintain our position by doing today what we did yesterday.  We are no longer competing with the professional or the firm down the road, but rather, the highly skilled, more motivated, and lower cost individual or firm on the other side of the planet.  In order to do well in the future, we must begin to think more like entrepreneurs than employees, take responsibility for our quality of life, upgrade our skills and become more aware of the value we add to our teams, our projects, and our organizations.

Whether you are from Cape Town, Adelaide, Wellington, Hong Kong, Glasgow, Singapore, Milan or Albuquerque, the changes that are occurring affect us all.  Sure, you can decide to ignore what is happening, to live and work the same way today as you have in the past.  However, you could be missing out on the biggest opportunity of this generation and be rendered obsolete, redundant and find yourself standing on the sidelines.

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