The Future of Working Summit

Future of Working

On March 20, 2015 together with our partners from Hummingbird Labs we gathered a group of future thinkers at the Vodafone Innovation Center in San Francisco, to evolve ideas around the Future of Working. The one-day summit was focused around key future trends and resulted in a sixty page document available for download.

From our partner Tirza Hollenhorst who organized and co-facilitated the event:

The first Future of Working Summit was born out of my commitment to develop a community of practice, create future ready tools, develop transformational leaders, and raise awareness about the changes we are living through.

I see 5 central shifts that organize my thinking about the future of working.


The narrative of the individual in our time is changing. In the past, the individual could define their role (their personal narrative) by their place in the community or their place in the company. All of this has shifted. Life-long employment at a single company is no longer realistic and communities are just as dynamic.

The individual is now responsible for their own narrative. Everyone gets to take ownership of their learning, their purpose, and their identity.

The great gift of this shift, is the opportunity to see that truly we all create the world around us. And when we take ownership of what we see being created, we will create different things.

When we truly step into agency, not only do we each become vibrant creators of our own lives, we can also, as compassionate humans, create a world that works for everyone.

The great challenge of this shift is that we must extend the same possibility for agency, learning, purpose, and value creation to everyone. People must have meaning. In the most limited of circumstances, women without agency will find meaning in the care of family and the home, and men will find it in brotherhood. The future of working, must include paths for women to create enterprise, education, and prosperity, rather than living in poverty, oppression, and uncertainty. And we must create path to value creation, contribution, and purpose for all men, or they will join together to fight for a cause that gives them that purpose. And all of us need the guidance and support of each other to find ourselves and our paths in a deeply interconnected, rapidly changing world.


Future of Working Content

The team is not a new metaphor, but today it has new meaning. Today, teams come together rapidly and for a specific limited purpose. People need to come to the team with their expertise and a whole set of capacities for facilitation, collaboration, emotional awareness and adaptability ready to go. There is not time to teach someone to be a team player. We all need to be team players. We are seeing a whole host of tools around decision making, collaboration and decentralization arise to enable rapidly forming teams. Central to this shift, is that the individual maintains their unique narrative and identity even as they join multiple teams. You can see the essence of this shift baked into the differences in how tools such as Asana and Salesforce are architected.

Asana assumes that an individual might join multiple organizations and various projects under each organization. Salesforce assumes that one central organization owns the data and every person is attached to an organization. The fundamental difference in orientation that lies between these two cannot be overstated.


The corporation has a very different relationship to the people, society and its businesses than 20 years ago. There is no longer the expectation that people will remain with a corporation for a lifetime.

And as people begin to develop their own narratives and move between teams, we will begin to see a different relationship between the individual and the intellectual property they produce. As the corporation has become more of a holding company it has actually begun to look more like an ecosystem of aligned businesses that are swapped in and out.


Businesses are coming together in aligned ecosystems in a way that allows them to operate and realize a new level of scale, innovation and impact. Smaller business are taking advantage of

blockchain technology to share value and decrease transactional friction. And larger corporations are collaborating to innovate to meet customers with a more complete offering and address shared supply chain concerns.

No business can ignore the changes in the ecosystem that surrounds them. Whether you are Heinz who gets to manage the future of tomato products in a California without water or Oscar Mayer, who will get to consider what else can be put on a hot dog. This is a cheeky example, but a very real one.

In a world where change is exponential and everything is connected, every business gets to look not only at its competitors, but the entire ecosystem of businesses and resources that surround them.

Planetary Sphere of Concern

There is no longer a sphere of concern smaller than the planet that is appropriate when considering the impact of our actions.

We are seeing an increase in the capacity to think globally and we are still woefully narrow minded in our thinking. There is no significant challenge in another part of the world that does not have impact on us here.

And the reverse is true. Our climate, security, stability and quality of life in 2030 depend on a global sphere of concern. I am not suggesting that solutions are cookie cutter or that global action is the only path, rather that when we are considering how far to look, around the globe is very near.

With all of these changes there is real need for communities of transformational leaders to come together and develop a path to a positive future. I see incredible potential in this community. I see genius, creativity, commitment, capacity, and love. The document that follows is a testament to that. The outputs that follow were generated from a day of 90 minute sessions. Imagine what is possible with a period of sustained collaboration.

Future of Working