Nadine North’s Blog

The Future of Work is now…


… and powered by The Fourth Industrial Revolution.  I’m sure you’ve noticed, getting our jobs done is a lot different now.  Technology has allowed wonderful changes to how we work, where we work and when we work.  This has been evolving for the last 20+ years.  In the late 1990s, I “worked from home” and I had remote workers on my teams.  However now there’s been a paradigm shift. What used to be the exception is now the norm.  Some companies are 100% remote (i.e., all workers are in home offices).  Some companies have all Gig Economy workers (i.e., short-term, freelance, on-demand) vs permanent employees — and now there’s always a mix.  The companies may benefit from on-demand workers, but do employees?  Is work/life flexibility a welcome tradeoff to the security of a permanent job?  Is working at a home office alone optimal to our human need for community?  Are companies better off with people home alone or gathering in regions while collaborating in person?  Are “hallway discussions” valued? And what about compensation?  Does the Gig Economy cover corporate benefits now offered by companies?  Once again, is the flexibility  worth the tradeoff?

What about staying ahead of the technology?  How do you get educated on the latest stuff while working — even if you’re building the latest stuff?  What if you’re re-entering the workforce after having kids and getting them into school?  What if you’re transitioning from the Military?  What if you’re just graduating university and need to have real skills to get a job?  We now have EdTech — but has it hit the mainstream?  Will companies seek and accept the diversity of re-skilled employees?

How about our companies?  How do they manage in this Gig/Permanent Remote/OnSite/Global Fourth Industrial Revolution economy? How do they ensure team loyalty in a time that may not longer lead with loyalty?  How do they ensure their teams are educated and diverse — and every one of their brilliant minds are included in the vital decisions that expand the company?  How do companies ensure gender/region pay equity?  How do companies train their managers to handle all of this — and be their leaders?

All questions of our times.  This is the first in a series of articles explaining what’s going on.  And then some viable solutions.

The World Economic Forum has done some good work here.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”




Corporate Board Dynamics: Women on Boards

Corporate Directors, especially women on public boards. I’ll be talking about this with clients, colleagues and friends – and writing about it.

I’ve read a number of articles with statistics. The overall Fortune 1000-type companies generally report about 20% women Directors; in Tech that number is closer to 15% (as reported by Korn Ferry).

I’m curious about the dynamics of the Boards, and how (and if) the first woman entering the team changes the dynamic – of the Board and of the Company. And does her participation pave the road for additional women – on the Board, in the C-suite and in the Company? For diversity overall? Anything else?

Also, for women – and men – on private Boards, there’s a chasm to cross for appointment to a public board. What is that journey?

There are many interesting articles about Board dynamics and their impacts. Here’s one from McKinsey:

High-performing boards: What’s on their agenda?
“Directors report that they have a greater impact as they move beyond the basics.”



Building the Team, Inclusion

Just a few thoughts about this….  For the last year I’ve been advising a Series A company as they’re building a platform for products and talent. It’s much like watching and guiding a child as it

grows; there is always the temptation to use quick fixes in addressing immediate needs, but to what degree do you slow down to embed best practices in the organization so it can scale, be prosperous and continue to attract top talent?  (…so the child can grow to be a healthy and successful adult?)

An example:
It’s easy for business leaders to make decisions “on the fly” to make things happen quickly.  Personally, I certainly like to make a decision and move on….  But what does that say inside the company to interested or affected parties who are not included in the critical thinking that leads to certain decisions?  Can you make it up later, when “there’s more time”?  How do those excluded parties feel in the meantime?  What happens if a headhunter calls them during the “meantime”?  And what if a valued team member makes a decision “on the fly” to leave your company, just as you made your quick decision to expedite a situation?

All unintended actions that lead to unintended outcomes.

We all know that an inclusive and spiritually rewarding business culture is the reason people join, happily contribute their expertise and are loyal to companies.  The money comes later — from productive behavior.  I hear this from almost every candidate when I ask, “What’s your ideal company?”

Although it takes extra cycles, time and patience — it’s good to think through the business culture you want to create, and exercise the diligence to implement it.

Here’s a doozie: The Golden State’s War on Itself (City Journal)

Here’s one I’ve had in the Drafts file for awhile.  It is so depressing, I’ve tried to ignore it as I’m a product of and big believer in the Golden State. Upon a re-read, it’s mostly still pertinent, we still need to attract JOBS.  So here you go…

City Journal — Joel Kotkin — The Golden State’s War on Itself Yikes2

How politicians turned the California Dream into a nightmare

Summer 2010

“California has long been a destination for those seeking a better place to live. For most of its history, the state enacted sensible policies that created one of the wealthiest and most innovative economies in human history. California realized the American dream but better, fostering a huge middle class that, for the most part, owned their homes, sent their kids to public schools, and found meaningful work connected to the state’s amazingly diverse, innovative economy.

Recently, though, the dream has been evaporating. Between 2003 and 2007, California state and local government spending grew 31 percent, even as the state’s population grew just 5 percent. The overall tax burden as a percentage of state income, once middling among the states, has risen to the sixth-highest in the nation, says the Tax Foundation. Since 1990, according to an analysis by California Lutheran University, the state’s share of overall U.S. employment has dropped a remarkable 10 percent. When the state economy has done well, it has usually been the result of asset inflation—first during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, and then during the housing boom, which was responsible for nearly half of all jobs created earlier in this decade.

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, the state has fared even worse. Last year, California personal income fell 2.5 percent, the first such fall since the Great Depression and well below the 1.7 percent drop for the rest of the country. Unemployment may be starting to ebb nationwide, but not in California, where it approaches 13 percent, among the highest rates in the nation. Between 2008 and 2009, not one of California’s biggest cities outperformed such traditional laggards as New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia in employment growth, and four cities—Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Ana, and San Bernardino–Riverside—sit very close to the bottom among the nation’s largest metro areas, just slightly ahead of basket cases like Detroit. Long a global exemplar, California is in danger of becoming, as historian Kevin Starr has warned, a “failed state.”

What went so wrong? The answer lies in a change in the nature of progressive politics in California.”

Read the rest:

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