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Book Review - Competing In The New World of Work

COMPETING IN THE NEW WORLD OF WORK: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest. Keith Ferrazzi, Kian Gohar, Noel Weyrich (2023, Kindle Edition)

The pandemic accelerated the transformation of work across all industry sectors. In Competing in the New World of Work, co-authors Ferrazzi, Gogar and Weyrich examine what it means to successfully adapt and compete in the post-pandemic era. The authors contend that “[T]he coming years of recovery and renewal offer a historic opportunity to remake our organizations and our futures, but only if we accept this as an inflection point for true reinvention.” The promise of this book is to help leaders develop a sustainable leadership style and strategy for use in navigating similar shocks in the future post-pandemic era, which they posit, is likely to be characterized by constant change and disruption.

Drawing on the findings from interviews with more than two thousand leaders who redefined their strategies, business models, organizational systems, and cultures to successfully navigate the turbulence of the pandemic, the authors identified a consistent pattern of successful leadership competencies they distilled into a new leadership methodology for a future of accelerating change and uncertainty, called “radical adaptability”.

Throughout this book, compelling, research-based methods and best practices are presented for what leadership means in a radically volatile world. At its core, the radical-adaptability framework requires leaders to master the skills of “true transformative leadership” if they are to thrive in the emerging new world of work that calls for collaborative and inclusive, agile, resilient, anticipatory, reinventive, flexible, and purpose-driven leadership.

Following the introductory chapter in which the concept and framework of radical adaptability are introduced, one chapter is dedicated to each of the seven (7) elements that underlie the framework and its application. Specifically, chapters 2 through 5 describe how to build a radically adaptable team, and chapters 6 through 8 establish how to leverage that team to build a radically adaptable organization. Throughout these chapters, high-return and actionable best practices along with guiding questions are presented for how to build and equip teams with core competencies of collaboration, agility, resilience, and foresight; and for how to leverage and deploy these team skills in advancing an enterprise-wide operating model for future-proofing an organization to effectively sustain competitive advantage.

In brief, in chapters 2 through 5, the reader will learn how to build a radically adaptable team by focusing on the following core elements for radical adaptability:

  • CH 2-Collaboration through Inclusion: In this foundational chapter, 5 steps are presented for building collaboration through inclusion along with associated high-return practices.

  • CH 3-Lead through enterprise agility: In this chapter, the focus is on creating customer value and on how to shift your leadership approach and delegate responsibility to teams closest to the work and closest to the customer.

  • CH 4-Promote team resilience: This chapter includes a 4-step process beginning with how to gauge your team’s resilience levels, followed by high-return practices for supporting and encouraging team members to build resilience in the team, for dealing with acute workplace stressors, and for building a sustainable base of mental health resources that will enable your team to sustain its resilience in the disruptive years to come.

  • CH 5-Develop active foresight: This chapter presents high-return practices on how to build team competencies in planning for the future, even when the future is unknowable, by developing foresight through a systematic 4-step process for how to “see” around corners (versus react to daily challenges), how to lead your team in proactively detecting early signals of change, and how to use foresight to identify future opportunities and deflect unexpected risk.

Additionally, in chapters 6 through 8, the reader will learn how to leverage teams to build a radically adaptable organization by focusing on the following core elements of the framework:

  • CH 6-Future-proof your business model: In this chapter, a 4-step methodology is presented that teams can use to question the assumptions underlying their organization’s current business model and then to advance it toward the future.

  • CH 7- Build a LEGO-block workforce: This chapter provides a playbook for how to build the workforce of the future, including an adaptable framework to organize a work process and a common language for continuous transparent dialogue.

  • CH 8- Supercharge your purpose: The final chapter describes the high-return practices for supercharging an organization’s purpose through 3 steps including 1. teaming out to explore the organization’s purpose, 2. promoting the personal ownership of purpose within every team member, and 3. setting a purpose-driven long-term course for radical adaptability.

While the concepts and practices of transformational leadership are not new, their application for what leadership means in the post-pandemic era is insightful and reinforces their relevance and value. In addition, the research-informed framework of radical adaptability and associated actionable best practices advocated by the authors are particularly instructive in the current day context of accelerating change and uncertainty.

Although the authors tend to unabashedly promote their consulting practice, and their use of jargon is sometimes excessive, Competing in the New World of Work is an inspiring read for leaders at all levels in the post-pandemic economy.

Image source: Amazon

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