Search Results for: charles handy

How Charles Handy changed the way we speak about the workplace

How Charles Handy changed the way we speak about the workplace

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There are writers whose language pervades our discourse so extensively that even those who have never heard of them will echo not only their sentiments but also their means of expression. One of these people is Charles Handy, who has just published his latest book 21 Letters on Life and its Challenges at the age of 87. His work resonates to this day and not least because he was so far ahead of the curve in detailing many of the characteristics of modern organisations and the challenges created for everybody by the changing nature of work and business. More →

Charles Handy was a true visionary about the modern workplace

Charles Handy was a true visionary about the modern workplace

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It’s incredibly hard not to be impressed by Charles Handy and even harder not to find him likeable. The scope of his intellect and humanity is evident on the page, in his interviews and in his broadcasts. He reeks of credibility and warmth. Do a Google image search of him and the pictures you find epitomise English middle-class academic decency (despite the fact that he’s Irish); jumpers, churchyards, armchairs and a benign smile. More →

From the archive: We shouldn’t rely on narrow ideas to define flexible working

From the archive: We shouldn’t rely on narrow ideas to define flexible working

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flexible workingThis piece was originally published five years ago. While we now read it with different eyes, what is interesting is how the ideas have stood up. Some better than others perhaps but a welcome reminder that the conversations we are now having about life after lockdown began some time ago. One of the particular and often unspoken issues that shadows in any debate about flexible working is what we mean by the term. We’ve been talking about new ways of working for a good quarter of a century now and what is generally understood about the practice has evolved considerably. The very idea was conceived at the birth of the new online era so is inextricably tied up with the Internet and new technology. More →

Listening in on an enormous conversation about the workplace

Listening in on an enormous conversation about the workplace

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One of the best tricks Clive James ever pulled was finding acceptance as a public intellectual in the UK. It’s not easy in a country in which it is possible to be too clever by half or even too clever for your own good. Stephen Fry continues to pull it off as does Mary Beard, but it’s a hell of a thing to achieve. In the UK at least it seems to rely on straddling at least two worlds. More →

Workplace culture can eat strategy for breakfast

Workplace culture can eat strategy for breakfast

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It was management consultant and author Peter Drucker who coined the well-worn maxim that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. But often it is used in the wrong way. Far from suggesting that culture alone dictates workplace function, he presented culture as a first among equals. A strategy that does not heed culture is more likely to fail. A culture without strategy is prone to go adrift. It is vital for an organisation to be aware of its own culture and subcultures. Without self-awareness, the steps to improve or nuture those within the organisation will be futile. More →

Throwing open the window to a new world of work

Throwing open the window to a new world of work

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An illustration of a frog, a key metaphor in Charles Handy's writing about the world of work While working at a Viennese Obstetric Clinic in the mid 1840s, a Hungarian physician named Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that mothers were far less likely to succumb to a potentially fatal infection called puerperal fever when the medical staff treating them washed their hands. When he started collecting data to confirm his insight, he found that hand washing reduced mortality rates from around 10 percent to as little as 1 percent. Although, his findings predated the germ theory of disease, which left him without an explanation, in 1847 he published a book in which he proposed that the link was so evident that in future staff should always wash their hands in chlorinated lime before treating patients, to protect them from infection.

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The golden age of procrastination and the tyranny of time keeping

The golden age of procrastination and the tyranny of time keeping 0

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Many of us start each day with a long to-do list, a new set of goals and a commitment not to repeat the same mistakes we have in the past. It’s likely that we will have promised ourselves to stop putting things off. On our hit list of the foibles we most want to dispose of, procrastination will be somewhere near the top. The problem is that because procrastination is linked to psychological factors such as an innate preference to do something we deem pleasurable to something we don’t, modern life encourages us to do it. More →

Childhood’s end for work and the need for a grown-up conversation about it all

Childhood’s end for work and the need for a grown-up conversation about it all

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Arguably Arthur C Clarke’s finest novel, Childhood’s End is the story of an Earth that is invaded by a force of alien Overlords. This is not a destructive colonial invasion, which is why there’s no Hollywood blockbuster in the tale, but a seemingly benevolent intervention which ushers in a golden age for humanity. Although humankind initially does not get to meet the Overlords in person (for reasons I won’t give away here), the aliens unite the world’s governments, eradicate crime, conflict and the nation state and do away with the need for creativity and hard work. It is the literal end of history.

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The meteor strike of coworking and the beasts that will remain

The meteor strike of coworking and the beasts that will remain

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The concept of coworking has only been with us for a short time, but there are already signs that it is evolving into something rather different. The most common misperception about the way evolution works is that it is based on some steady progression, driven by the merciless principle of survival of the fittest, with the best adapted climbing towards the top of an evolutionary tree. This gives rise to one of the most common questions posed by sceptics: if we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

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What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work

What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work

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In 1959, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified the personality traits which go hand in hand with disproportionate levels of heart disease. These include an overblown sense of time urgency, a desire to fit as much into each second as possible, excessive competitiveness and aggressiveness and frustration when other people are doing things more slowly than absolutely necessary. In other words – your typical 21st Century human. Friedman and Rosenman coined a term for such people which has now entered common usage. They called them Type-A personalities.

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A quarter of a century ago, the newborn Internet set office design on a different path

A quarter of a century ago, the newborn Internet set office design on a different path

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Vitra Ad Hoc systemBecause we are now so immersed in technology, we can sometimes forget just how young the Internet is. It was only in 1995 that the final barriers to its full commercial development were removed. In 1994, the number of people using it worldwide was estimated at around 20 million, there were under 15,000 company websites and the UK had one ‘cybercafe’. Even so, there was something in the air. A sense that everything was about to change – and change spectacularly.

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Future Shock: a message from the past that defines the present

Future Shock: a message from the past that defines the present 0

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We are all futurologists now. We all have our 2020 visions, at least for a little while. But there was a time, not so long ago, when the title was reserved for a few people who would be able to shake and shape the world with a single idea and a book. Yes, a book. Nowadays a book has to go hand in hand with a Ted Talk, blogs on the Huff Post and a speaking tour to get you anywhere at all. But within living memory it was possible to shift the thinking of the planet with a book. This is a past just as exotic as the future once described by the likes of Charles Handy, James Gleick and Alvin Toffler who died in 2016 in Los Angeles at the age of 87. Toffler’s 1970 blockbuster Future Shock created not just an enduring expression of an idea but also set the standard for all subsequent futurologists. His ideas and the terms he used to encapsulate them continue to resonate as we now understand how the future world he described so memorably has come to pass.

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