On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy
The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All
Julie Clow’s The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All is an engaging and practical guide written for organizational leaders and thinkers interested in the issue of optimizing organizational structure and culture to suit business needs in the Information Age. Towards the beginning of the book, she provides a comprehensive self-assessment quiz that covers various facets of the organization’s philosophy, the rules, leadership, team and coworkers, and the leader’s role. A chart is provided to record scores and the rating criteria is clear-cut, showing specific areas of strengths and weaknesses. The remainder of the book expands upon the subject matter covered in the quiz providing suggestions for improvement in the process.
Holding true to the title, the main thrust of The Work Revolution is about how the power structure and communication channels in the traditional, hierarchical organization must be reorganized in order for it to thrive in the Information Age. Drawing upon her experiences at Google, Clow makes a compelling case for empowering and trusting employees with more autonomy in a results-oriented organizational culture (including allowing employees to adapt their job to their strengths and energy levels – e.g., they have more control over when they work, their working environment, and the tasks they perform) so that they can better contribute.
Clow demonstrates the value of more emphasis on grassroots decision-making through examples of how great ideas and solutions have come from crowd-sourcing. When there is so much information to process and so many decisions to be made, as is increasingly the case during the Information Age, it is more efficient for leaders to deal with only the most critical decisions. This is facilitated by creating an organizational structure and culture that empowers all individuals to deal directly with as many problems as they can rather than going through the process of attaining approval from gatekeepers and having this information travel in the traditional, linear fashion to the top. To this end, she offers details on how organizational leaders can craft guiding principles that enable employees to understand and make decisions that are consistent with the organization’s mission and values.
The Work Revolution is a great go-to source for case examples of organizations that innovate and thrive as well as a great starting point for planning the optimization of organizational structure and culture.