The Future of Work Ecosystem is Missing Something

**This is a blog post I wrote a couple months ago after studying the future of work space thoroughly and realizing what’s missing***

 

So let’s talk about what a company really is. It is no coincidence that the word “Company” holds 2 official definitions: on the one hand it is a commercial business whose job-to-be-done is to deliver economic value to its investors in the form of profit; on the other, it also means the gathering of people that provides friendship and enjoyment.

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The 21st century knowledge economy brought the two definitions together: our ability to generate economic value is in direct correlation to our ability to build genuine friendships and rapport with people we work with. That is the thing about the knowledge economy – no one can force anyone to do anything and the quality of output varies significantly with intrinsic motivation. To excel at our jobs we all need buy-in from multiple colleagues over whom we often have no authority. Regardless of our role or seniority in the company – we all find ourselves managing horizontally.

So a company that is able to harness more personal involvement from its employees, in the form of cross-organization genuine relationship building, would consequently drive better communication, transparency and trust, and will be more likely to succeed in delivering more economic value to its investors. That is the cause-and-effect mechanism linking company culture and performance.

But the causation works in reverse as well. A company who is able to deliver a lot of economic value to its investors becomes a source of pride to its employees and drives their motivation and personal involvement with the company. Who doesn’t love to see the value of their options steps up 10x within a few quarters or casually remind their friends they work for a unicorn? … Crickets. We all love to associate ourselves with success, and success and recognition are prime sources of motivation. The knowledge economy is built on the foundation of this virtuous cycle, deeming our personal and professional identities inseparable. 

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The vast majority of general managers and technological solutions focus on improving economic value directly because it is easy to measure and explain. We all know what economic value looks like; the KPIs are clear and widely acceptable. The personal involvement lever, however, is much harder to crack – how does one build a culture of transparency, trust and strong informal networks within a company? How does one observe or measure those? KPIs are vague, benchmarks rarely exist, and as far as I can tell, no SaaS tool successfully serves that purpose.

COVID-19 and the quick global transition to working remotely surfaced how terribly delicate and fragile the virtuous cycle between personal involvement and economic value creation really is. Not being collocated in the same physical spaces with built-in opportunities to develop meaningful relationships broke the cycle, and stripped away an important levers of long term value creation – the company of others.

In the short term we saw spikes in productivity but I suspect the dire long term effects are coming. No one can deny the sense of silos, inability to gain buy-in and critical information from others in a digital, remote work world. Just ask anyone who started working in a company remotely during the pandemic and didn’t have those legacy relationships to build on.

We strongly believe that something is missing in the Future of Work (FOW) ecosystem. While the proliferation of productivity tools is accelerating, none empower employees and managers to understand, navigate, and make sense of the overwhelming amount of information available to them; break crippling information silos; identify and rectify information bottlenecks; map who is working on what and with whom; build a visual mental model for how work really gets done around them and where they fit in.

Where exactly does Akooda fit in?

Generally, companies in the FOW space can be categorized into 3 main buckets:

1. Communication tools: Slack, Zoom, email, etc.

2. Project/task management tools: Jira, Monday, Trello etc.

3. Search / knowledge management tools: Google Docs, Notion etc.

Combining communication and project/task management tools allows us to better collaborate. Combining project/task management tools allows us to be more productive. Combining search / knowledge management tools with communication tools provides context. All three are essential, but when disjointed they miss the critical synthesis that will take the future of work to the next level.

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Information flows and relationships are the lifeblood of the knowledge economy, much more than Jira tickets or detailed emails. If we are able to understand how they behave in real time and over time we will unlock tremendous amount of value for our employees, managers, and investors.

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1 thought on “The Future of Work Ecosystem is Missing Something

  1. It is paradoxical to think that what is missing in the workplace i.e. more effective human connections, can be achieved through technology. Still being able to understand how the informal organization works and how information flows in the organization might help to do things better. Long live Akooda!

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