Work Is In Minds Not Buildings

by Jay Deragon on 02/18/2013

time clocksIn the past work was done in buildings. People were paid to come to work in a building.  The “building” was where people interacted with machines to perform organized task that produced something to sell. It didn’t matter whether that “something” was a product or service it was created in the “building” and consumed by those outside the building.

Organizations acquired or leased buildings in which work could be performed and took pride in having nice buildings that became symbols of success.  Look at any major metropolitain city and the skyline is painted with “buildings”.  These buildings became containers of people who work for organizations.  The container became an extension of managements control over information, people and their work. The peple were told to be in the building everyday beginning and ending at certain times so they could be supervised in performing work in the building.

Buildings became factories where people and information was contained and work got done. Work was where you went to produce something for the organization to sell to the marketplace. Workers became suppliers to the organization which then sold what the workers produced to buyers.  Lots of money was spent on “buildings” to house workers and information.

Then something profound happened. The internet enabled information to get out of the building and subsequently the people realized they could still work without being tied to the building.

Then Minds Began To Work

Work is not longer a function of where you go to do something rather it is more about having information to think about how to create something valuable.  In the Social Era minds work best when they are free to create value that others want to consume.  Value creation happens best when people’s minds are free from old mental models of the past used to control what people did and what they thought.

Give people the freedom to think without the constraints of time and place and they will create more value than you expect.

The most valuable and creative work is done within the minds of people who are free to think about work that has a purpose.  The purpose of work is to optimize individual and collective talents to create value for markets that will comsume the value created from “work”.

Work is a by-product of intangible capital that creates tangible results beyond expectations.  The intangible capital is in the minds of the worker whether they are in your building or not.  Buildings don’t matter, minds do.




Nate L February 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Great post — couldn’t agree more

Simon Fowler February 18, 2013 at 7:26 am

I would have been mostly with you if you replaced minds with relationships in the title and conclusion. Surely it’s not just minds, but relationships, both direct (requiring ‘constraint’ of time and space, “lunch at Panera at noon?, okay, see you there!”) and mediated (usually with an inherent ‘constraint’ of time at least, “send me the latest iteration of your genius idea right now before I meet with Mr B!”), that give rise to valuable and creative work?

Given the title of your site, it surprises me that you don’t demonstrate the possibility of redeeming buildings for relationship-building, human interaction and creativity; nor the possibility that merely technology-mediated relationships don’t have their own constraints on information gathering and creativity (let alone constraints on general happiness and satisfaction). The “old is controlling and bad”, “new liberating and good” narrative really could do with some nuance and creativity methinks. (I’m new here, haven’t read your other work, and I recognize the post title is a deliberately provocative one, so I’m just responding to this post on its own merits).

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