The Future of the Workplace: Insights and Advice from 31 Pioneering Business and Thought Leaders
2020, pp. XVI, 263, PDF
More information in the catalogue of the German National Library.
In his book The Future of the Workplace: Insights and Advice from 31 Pioneering Business and Thought Leaders, Bill Fox looks for answers (and questions) in an interview series with 31 business leaders and practitioners about how work and workplaces can become meaningful for everyone in the future. Out of these conversations emerges an image of a human-centred workplace, in which every person can thrive, find meaning and contribute to corporate goals and achieve her/his personal purposes.
Structure and content
The book contains 30 interviews with 31 business founders, transformation leaders, chairpersons, leadership coaches and experts, human resource (HR) specialists, book authors, etc. These lead to 30 chapters in which the interviewees answer mainly a set of six questions:
“How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?”
“What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?”
“What do people really lack and long for at work?”
“What is the most important question leaders should ask employees?”
“What’s the most important question employees should ask leaders?”
“What is the most important question we should ask ourselves?”
Bill Fox speaks of a “forward thinking age” (p. xiii) which replaces the “industrial age” with its methods and ideas. In his view the new age is characterised among others by “New Questions, Mastery and Exploration” (p. xiii) and he argues that “we need to shift into more modern ways of being and working” (p. xiii). The opinions and answers of the interviewees converge, depicting a workplace in which harmony reigns, everybody is important both as a person and as an employee, companies are interested in more than just profitability, and everybody wants to participate in creating a better world. A detailed summary of each chapter/interview will not be provided here (for this the reader might simply read the section “Key Takeaways” of each interview), but some ideas will be discussed in the next section.
Bill Fox in his book The Future of the Workplace: Insights and Advice from 31 Pioneering Business and Thought Leaders is an inquisitive investigator of how a positive work environment can be created and how leaders can contribute to creating an ideal workplace. His set of questions opens a space of discussions, which encourages reflection and further exploration of human thinking and doings.
Trust and fear, individual and community, choice and sacrifice, motivation and inspiration, hearing and listening, empowering and serving (and the list can go on) are all topics the interviewees engage with, in an attempt to illustrate their own vision and approach to work, working life and leadership. What emerges is an image of the workplace, where valuing people, empowering them, promoting personal growth and inquisitiveness are of uppermost concern. The well-versed reader might easily recognise in the interviews some of the values of servant leadership proposed by Robert K. Greenleaf, but there are also some interviewees, who hold slightly different views. Perry Marshall whom Bill Fox describes as “one of the most sought-after consultants in the world” (p. 75) argues for instance that “You should hire slow and fire fast. […] your business is not a charity. Your business is a high performance team” (p. 76). Overall, the reader has the opportunity to get to know the opinions of some business leaders and influencers on how to create a workplace „where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally” (p. xiv).
The interviews themselves are interesting, but what the book lacks is an analysis of the entire material. Moreover, the collection would have profited from selecting not only like-minded interviewees, but also individuals who hold different opinions. As it is, The Future of the Workplace: Insights and Advice from 31 Pioneering Business and Thought Leaders remains a collection of thoughts and opinions about the future of workplace. For those interested in an evaluation of the interviews I recommend Fox’ article A Forward-Thinking Workplace: The Key to Successful Digital Transformation.
 The questions are shortly introduced on the pages XIV and XV and are afterwards to be found in each interview.
Bill Fox is a founder at Forward Thinking Pro and a book author.
More information about the author can be found on his webpage.
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