The ecosystem of the Social Age: working, learning and engagement

I’ve been reflecting on the wider ecosystem of the Social Age this week, prompted by several conversations. We have seen, in the last decades, a fundamental shift in the nature of work and the concepts of employment and career. There’s been a shift in ownership of our destiny, away from companies and into our own hands, although we haven’t always noticed it as it happens. On the one hand, companies have driven this change through increased outsourcing and hollow business models, whilst on the other technology has facilitated it by enabling us to trade on our reputations in global markets. The net result is that the ecosystem has developed, but have we kept up?

The nature of work in the Social Age

You can view the SlideShare presentation accompanying this post here.

Organisations are not just changing how they operate, they’re also adapting the principles on which they work. We have seen the emergence of the Socially Responsible Business, the business that does (or aims to do) what’s right, not just what’s legally required. This may partly be a function of the Startup trend, which has seen younger and perhaps more idealistic individuals able to build global companies in short timeframes, but may also be a function of social media putting ownership of brand into the community and, hence, making image count.

It’s certainly about authenticity in word and deed.

So the Social Age provides opportunities: opportunities for socially minded companies to attract the best talent, but also for us as individuals to create our personal brands that persist over our ‘careers‘. But what’s missing?

It’s easy to see how this fluidity of the market drives short term decision making: short term planning to deliver profit for shareholders and short term planning for what skills you need. So who own’s the mid term or long term picture?

I’ve been toying myself this month with signing up for another Masters degree with the University of Leicester: the Learning Innovation course looks great, but it’s a mid term payoff. I have to balance this against my short term requirements (to earn money) and my commitments to my colleagues and social groups. In the old world, organisations could take a longer term view of talent development and provide resources and courses to satisfy it: but now there is no ‘long term‘ within any one component of our career. The only certainty is that you are unlikely to be certain about where you work next year.

Ownership of career moves firmly into the hands of the individual, and ownership of mid term growth belongs to the organisation: how do they create a culture and environment that lets them attract the best of the freelance and fluid workforce?

I call it the Ecosystem of the Social Age because everything is intern-linked: driven by the evolving nature of work, requiring social leadership and engaging culture, agile and responsive to change.

We have to ensure that we are all fit: organisationally, infra-structurally and personally. And ensure nobody gets left behind by accident.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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11 Responses to The ecosystem of the Social Age: working, learning and engagement

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