As an agilist, the further I progress, the more I feel like I’m planning my own professional funeral. That is, if enough good things happen, I could be out of a job. If teams become truly collaborative, the less they will need agile coaches. As teams become self-directed, they won’t need so much formal training. The same is true for others in the corporate workplace: As teams become empowered, they won’t need managers to manage resource allocations. As teams of teams become better aligned, they won’t need project managers organizing everything around them.
For a lot of us, the better job we do, the less we are needed.
Well, let me correct that: The better job we do, the less we are needed to do the things we currently do. So, then what?
Looking back, there are many jobs out there that have either outlived their usefulness or dramatically changed due to technological evolution. ATMs have changed the role of the bank teller. Planning and communication tools have changed the role of administrative assistants. POS and security systems have changed the role of gas station attendants.
These changes don’t necessarily mean those people lose their professions. For example, the bank teller profession is alive and well.
However, as rote duties become automated, workers need to be redeployed to do more valuable work. This, of course, requires skill development. Tellers learn sales skills; admins refine their facilitation skills; gas station attendants manage food stores.
In creative enterprises, the same will be said of the office jobs listed at the top. As companies succeed in creating “learning organizations,” preparation for more value-added, un-automatable contributions will just happen, only if…
If leaders commit to creating an environment where learning and empowerment is encouraged, everyone can succeed together. Leaders, do you believe that people are resourceful and will seek the learning they need to succeed? Do you believe that within collaborative teams, peer teaching can happen just in time? Are you ready to pry your gaze away from required training content, mandated “best practices” and competency-based development? If the answers are yes, you might be on your way.
For those who would plan their own funeral, it’s time to plan for your professional rebirth. Ask yourself: How much value am I adding in what I do now? What do I need to do and learn to make my team a success? Is it possible for me to thrive in the environment where I work now?
Listen to the answers to these questions. Listen to yourself.