TTW Mailbox: The Future of Work

A Librarian colleague writes to TTW:

I am reading the beginning of this title The Future of Work through the Online Book Club. The excerpt below made me think of you! The author describes his work as a professor and his contacts with networks of other people who help him accomplish his job. This book has piqued my interest to try to see what we can change here to make the organization less hierarchical and more decentralized. There has to be a balance between top down and anarchy/democracy, we just need to find it. Then we need to train staff and managers to trust each other to make good decisions.

I’m disappointed we don’t own the title yet but I’ll request it and buy it from Amazon in the mean time. Here’s the citation:

THE FUTURE OF WORK: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life by Thomas W. Malone (nonfiction)


“But, like countless others in the generations before mine, I chose
to leave that way of life and move to the city. Many of my
predecessors went from a farm to a factory, but I skipped that step
altogether. Instead, I became a professor at a university. Even
though professors, in some form, have existed for ages, my work as a
professor today–as a researcher, teacher, and consultant–embodies
many of the characteristics of a postindustrial job: I have a huge
amount of freedom in deciding what work to do and when and where to
do it. Knowledge, creativity, and motivation are critical to my
success. I work with constantly shifting networks of people from all
over the world, and much of my life is spent communicating with
others, whether in meetings, by telephone, or via e-mail.

In a sense, my own life has moved from the agricultural past to the
postindustrial future. It thus embodies the trajectory that business
organizations have followed over the last two hundred years or so.
But that trajectory itself echoes a much larger pattern. To an
amazing degree, the recent evolution in business organizations
follows the pattern of evolution in the organization of societies.
And to understand that pattern, we need to start a long, long time
ago–back at the very beginnings of humanity.”