Are You Ready to Lead Work Without Jobs?

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The way we have traditionally organized work and workers is becoming increasingly obsolete. We are moving toward a new work operating system that will deconstruct work into tasks and projects that may be assigned not only to employees but also to machines and contingent workers in talent marketplaces. In addition, workers will increasingly be identified not as holding a specific job but as possessing a set of skills and talents that can be applied wherever the organization may need them. These shifts were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which underscored the critical importance of organizational agility and flexibility — both of which are enabled by this emerging approach to work. This will require a profound change in the mindset and behavior of leaders. This new way of designing work and organizing talent, as Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau, coauthor of this piece, have previously described, requires managers to begin thinking in terms of how tasks and projects are accomplished, not how “jobs” are organized. It will require leaders and managers to become skilled at orchestrating a broad array of different resources — some human, some not; some employees, some not — to execute those tasks. And as talent gains greater agency to choose the most desirable projects and project leaders, the relationship between managers and workers will increasingly become less hierarchical.

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