Towards a New Model of Employment and Innovation

The 2011 Shift Index from Deloitte has a simple message. The way for firms to improve performance is to increase worker passion, while the message for employees is follow your dreams. They may not lead to the same place.

For those who are new to the Shift Index, the Deloitte Center for the Edge has developed some very original thinking about the longer term trends that are shaping our world and a clever way of measuring them. According to their work we are moving from a world of push to one of pull where U.S. corporations have become a lot less profitable thanks to their failure to adapt quickly enough to change.

The Shift Index describes a very familiar world - greater competition, a bigger gap between winners and losers, a higher rate of executive turnover and a failure to significantly increase labor productivity.

Why?  Our management practices and infrastructures have failed to keep pace with the growth in technology. Higher stock price volatility, greater uncertainty and lower levels of "worker passion" are the inevitable result.

We dream about the future but work in the past.

Digging into the banking and securities story shows that worker passion has increased (appendix exhibit 16), but compares poorly with other industries (Cross-Industry Perspectives exhibit 21).  From being one of the leading knowledge sharing industries in 2009 it has become one of the least (exhibit 19). Is this because of Dodd-Frank?

Yet in the world of the Shift Index, worker passion and collaboration - knowledge sharing - is essential for performance improvement.

So what's the answer?

A New York Times article suggests one may be moonlighting - allowing employees the freedom to develop products in their own time and keep most of the rewards; increasing innovation and improving performance.

The example given is, a mobile phone app developed by Microsoft employees in their own time for Windows Phone 7.

Moonlighting may sound exactly the kind of practice that may get the regulators up in arms yet the Shift Index has a very important message for Dodd-Frank - don't regulate the industry to the point where you impede its performance.

The Shift Index suggests that the forecast based business models that have served us for decades are broken and have been for some time. Perhaps it's time for a new model of employment that puts passion back into what we do and boosts innovation as well.

Better to have a more flexible arrangement where both sides come out ahead.

The 2010 Shift Index can be found at:

Moonlighting Within Microsoft, in Pursuit of New Apps by Anne Eisenberg published by the New York Times on 26th February, 2011 can be found at:


Comments (1)
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