Much of the modern ways of working come from an outdated industrial age, where workers would spend their days in factories conducting manual labor.
What worked back then doesn't work so well today, when most workers deal with the stuff between their ears and not so much with a factory setting. Even right now, the ways in which we can work effectively continue to evolve at a rapid pace.
It's not enough in to keep doing what businesses have been doing for such a very long time. As technology and the world that uses it continues to accelerate into new realms, so too must we.
To improve our processes, ideas, and capabilities, we must evolve how we work. Whether that's on a team or as a freelancer, the time has come to transform our work methods. What's changed the most? What matters in the modern working age is experimenting with new methods for engaging and empowering others.
Author and professor of management David Burkus, in his new book, Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual explains the way to move from outdated work practices to more creative ones is to look at what current innovators are doing and glean ideas from their processes. Rather than simply doing exactly what innovative companies are doing, try to understand why they do what they do and then build your own way forward.
"We need the new factory innovators to innovate how we work so we can work better," Burkus says.
To help fuel your pursuit of ideas, Burkus and I sat down to outline three changes you should consider making right now to your work. The keys come from Burkus' years of experience working with top creative companies such as Netflix, Valve Software, and more.
1. Outlaw Internal Email
"Move to a tool better suited for your teams communication needs (it could be a new technology or an old one, like actually having face to face conversations)" Burkus says.
This resonates well with the work I do at Facebook, where we've moved mostly away from email and rely instead on voice calls (for inter-office communication) and Messenger.
Because Messenger is a Facebook-product, and Facebook employees are on Facebook, it's a vastly more convenient way of communicating and planning than sending an email. Of course, when it comes down to it: walking to the other side of our massive open office building, is the easiest way to get a question answered or address an idea.
2. Ditch Performance Reviews
At Facebook we have a saying that goes: "Feedback is a gift." Often feedback can be difficult to hear or give, but the value of feedback is immense for everyone involved (particularly if it means a process, concept, or product can be improved as the result of that feedback).
Relying on annual or bi-annual performance reviews means feedback that could potentially improve things here and now is put off for months.
Burkus summarizes: "Ditch performance reviews and instead hold more frequent, informal discussions about expectations and feedback (both yours for your peers and theirs for you)."
It's causality that can make performance discussions easier to both dish out and synthesize, but it's frequency that makes them more impactful.
3. Organize Teams Based on Needs
"Organize teams based on the needs of projects and not the structure of the organizational chart."
If you are working on a project but deal primarily with peers based on job function instead of the team working on the project, ideas and execution will suffer, not be strengthened.
I've seen this at previous companies I've worked for, where the common myth is "to strengthen abilities people with the same specialties should sit and work closely together."
But by having project teams not be as close together as possible (both physically and on an organizational chart) communication, ideation, and the likelihood of serendipitous encounters, decrease.
To do innovative work requires innovative tactics for how you work. Anything you can do to empower yourself, your peers, and your customers, as well as increase engagement between each of these groups, is going to have a strong impact.