Hi Friends 👋
Thank you for joining me. And for joining each other.
For those of you that don't know me, I am an academically trained and practicing futurist. I also have a background in workforce planning and org + workforce development/design.
For the last six years I've been experimenting with futures thinking and methods to rethink traditional HR and workforce planning. The net result is Work Futures - a consulting space where I help courageous people leaders get practical about the futures of work in the present. To see change coming, leverage the future and act with more clarity in the present.
But, in this time I have also learnt that many of the important conversations about the futures of work do not align to the the day-to-day consulting demands. Seldom, if ever for instance, comes a request to focus on the likely inhabitants of these futures, you the WORKERS.
For the most part stealth foresight and trojan horse tactics were the only way to elevate these shadow futures of work insights within organisations. But, as we move towards what I feel are increasingly precarious and unjust working futures, the desire to elevate the shadow has generated enough energy to break my own patterns - to share some of this exploration, thinking, questioning and learning aloud.
When we connect with something that matters we are awake. We are available to what's actually going on.
For me that something is work. The past, present and futures of work. The systems, deep beliefs and ideologies of work. The theatre and the reality.
All the work things.
It's a topic that, when I look back through most of my career has always been there.
There's a rolling tapestry of thoughts, provocations and ideas about work floating around in my head. For a while I found it helpful to 'map all the things' in a process that is now known as 'doing a Mel Gibson' (sans conspiracy). Creating a string theory narrative, arranging all the disparate micro thoughts (one per sticky note) in such a way that it somehow creates coherent macro thoughts (see below).
But that's not a useful way to archive any insights that do emerge. Nor is it a tasteful backdrop for any guest waking up in our spare bedroom.
And so I created Work Futures Unpolished....
A space to turn small unpolished bites of thinking, visioning, learning, scanning and dialogue into an assemblage of things. Things that would likely remain unsaid inside corporations. Things that might be of use to workers navigating the futures of work in the present.
Unpolished is a 'pop' title with a deeper intention
It is a framing that allows a kind of freedom and truth. A hint to you that this isn't a curated suite of corporate polish. But it's also permission to myself, to challenge long standing programs of perfectionism and not wanting to share anything with the world because it's 'not finished' (its never finished), or because the copy hasn't been reviewed (there will be typos, even after review) or simply because I don't think what I'm sharing is good enough, smart enough, rigorous enough, polished enough (it never will be).
In a way it's also a personal experiment. What does it feel like to communicate from my own ‘I’ perspective, without the desire or necessity for any corporate polish.
Unpolished is more than what's requested.
This isn't the space that seeks what's requested, and then tries to do it faster and cheaper.
It's a space, I hope, to incite new insights, debates and dialogue, with new voices (like workers). A space for the curious worker to turn and face the (strange) change. To help unfreeze everyday ‘future of work’ discussions and to look below the grand narratives told by the usual story tellers*.
*My secret hope is that it becomes a micro portal to an adjacent conversation about work. Conversation that illuminate the deepreal (not deepfake) change dynamics.
For now, it's a working prototype, intended as an accessible and informative space to help peer into the futures of work and act with more clarity in the present.
I know our virtual world has a high dose of noise, pitches, and convenient five step plans to solve all. And that no one wants to read another blog.
Maybe this will simply become a public hard drive?
By maybe it could also be a useful exercise to help even one person step away from the present and ask new questions of work. Maybe it could organically emerge as a bite sized and accessible space for learning? A space to learn with (not on) each other?
I hope it's the latter.
And for the cost one soy latte a month, I also hope it starts to democratise futures thinking. (Not pop futures thinking, we're already flooded with that).
We (the workers) shape our futures of work, and thereafter our futures of work shape us. What we do and don't do today sets us on a path towards a future - the question is whether this is a future that we want?
Ps - this will probably be the the longest and most polished post you will read.