“In the 21st century, if you’re looking for work, you shouldn’t have to search in the same old places and, once hired, you shouldn't have to clock in and clock out in the same old ways. We should be able to go beyond bricks and mortar and draw upon the information and communication technology of today.” – Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker, State of the City Address, March 2, 2011
Just like Newark Mayor Booker, I am rather bullish about where things are heading, and the opportunities in our grasp when we are proactive and look for new ways to solve the problems we face in our economy, education and jobs. For me, it is a switch from what I call defense mode to offense. Winning because we can and because we are willing to apply new ideas to create new opportunities and not just replacing what was lost.
As folks around me will tell you, I like doing new and innovative things, what I call breaking new snow. But as I have learned in my career, not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about this. The tougher the challenges the more intractable the resistance to change can be. And, when it comes to revolutionizing work, there are some intimidating roadblocks.
While our technology and our digital lives have been advancing at a breakneck pace, we have seen some of the intricate challenges that our social, business and policy leaders are facing to keep up with the changing world of technology. The way we're wired makes us fear behavioral change, the way our businesses are structured makes it hard for management to grant new freedoms to both workers and as a company. As technology moves forward, there can often be a first reaction based on fear. We become more protective of the old ways of doing things and often resist innovation and change.
In my opinion, in the world of work, we're following an old paradigm — one that prizes walled gardens and impermeable and artificial borders (e.g. office space) — instead of acknowledging a new paradigm of openness. It is time to reexamine our understanding of management to yield performance and results.
What do I mean?
Just as business practices must be rethought, so we must work to support new ways of understanding and supporting this innovation.
As thought leaders on technology and the future of work, those of us who are leading the path to innovation should be helping others understand the changing world and how to navigate through it.
I believe that the US can continue to be at the forefront of innovation and we shouldn’t fear global competition. At LiveOps, we win business because we’re the best at what we do. We compete both with traditional, brick and mortar call centers who employ traditional command and control practices, and we also compete with offshore providers. Because we’ve revolutionized the way we work by harnessing technology, we can compete both locally and globally.
And other companies need to be bold enough to do the same. I am encouraged by the conversations I've had with the Chairman of the FCC and other policy leaders, who truly understand the power of the Internet and the importance of increasing its reach. I applaud the work Mayor Booker and his team are doing in Newark to bring real and leading edge change to their city. But I think we need even more industry support. We need more business leaders to step up and help shape the discussions of how best to use new technologies like Facebook and Twitter, while balancing valid privacy and consumer concerns. Who better to lead this discussion than those of us on the front lines who have seen the technology landscape change over the years?
For the ones who are ready, like Newark, NJ, I am confident we can bring innovation and passion back to work. We can be inspired by the change happening around us and instead of assigning roadblocks to prevent all potential issues; we can work together to build new paths to lead us to a better way to accomplish the things we want in our lives.
Maynard Webb is Chairman and CEO of LiveOps. He joined LiveOps from eBay where he served as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to eBay, Maynard was Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Gateway, Inc. A respected member of the Silicon Valley technology community, Maynard sits on the boards of several successful companies, including Salesforce.com.