Future of Work Series Part 5: Leveraging Social Technology for Competitive Advantage

Social technologies are rapidly changing the way we do business, from organizational structure down to individual skill sets. ThoughtFarmer was fortunate to host a panel at Vancouver’s Digital Strategy Conference on the Future of Work and the role of social technology. In this one-hour panel, we explore how new technologies are disrupting century-old workplace practices and the subsequent positive (and sometimes not-so-positive) impacts to organizations.

Since our talk was on the future and technology, we saw it fitting to host a digital panel using Google Hangouts.

Our virtual panel connected the Digital Strategy conference here in Vancouver to panelists in California, Missouri and New York.

Meet the Panel

We were joined by a group of social business thought leaders including:

  • Dave Gray (@davegray), Author of Gamestorming and the Connected Company
  • Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd), Web Anthropologist and Lead Social Business Analyst at GigaOM Research
  • Megan Murray (@meganmurray), Host of Shift, the social business podcast; Enterprise 2.0 pioneer; and former Booze Allen Hamilton consultant.
  • David Ascher (@davidascher), VP of Product for the Mozilla Foundation

View the Hangout

Future of Work Highlights

Designing organizations for uncertain and volatile environments.

Technology and social tools are creating a highly volatile business environment. This is driving the biggest change that we’ve seen in organizations since the industrial revolution. If companies want to succeed in this new environment, they need to think like Google and Amazon, who have been able to scale massively without losing their ability to adapt and innovate. See the full one-on-one interview with Dave Gray: How Consumer Technology is Disrupting the Workplace.


Applying lean concepts to management processes and organizational design. 

While organizations have the technology to drive change, they often have structural and cultural barriers that prevent them from doing so. To break down these barriers, we need to allow employees to lead projects themselves, instead of focussing on rigid hierarchies. Google is calling this approach “Emergent Leadership”, our panelist, Stowe Boyd, likes to think of it as Leanership – applying lean and agile processes throughout the organization. See the full one-on-one interview with Stowe Boyd: Leanership and Connected Technologies.

Thriving amongst chaos

The changing technological and competitive landscape is creating a constant reorganization of work — a chaotic environment. In chaotic environments, small changes that happen now can have a big impact on the future. Organizations need to figure out what the small changes are in strategy and direction that they can make now. These changes come from the bottom, when employees can see an opportunity are empowered to execute on it quickly. See the full one-on-one interview with David Ascher: Thriving in a more Connected and Delocalized World.


Designing organizations, not just software, to be collaborative

Despite a flurry of new collaboration tools and research reports highlighting benefits of collaboration, organizations are failing to actually collaborate. Beyond technical tools, organizations must rethink their cultures and structures. To collaborate, people require relationships and networks. We must design organizations to allow these networks to cultivate and flourish. See the full one-on-one interview with Megan Murray: Collaborative Software Requires New Skills.

A huge thanks to our panelists for their insights on the future of work. You can also follow the full social conversation on Storify.

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