There is a great consensus around the notion that the working life and the way we contribute professionally is about to change. We all throw around buzzwords like AI, IoT, blockchain and process automation and agree that they will have a profound impact on our careers and the way we work together.
There are endless opportunities in the new digital age, but certainly unsolved challenges as well. Some challenges are simply due to the fact that the emerging combinations of employees, technology, consumers, rules and assets are simply new and we haven’t yet figured out how to create value with them in a sustainable way. With adequate rate of trial and error, this will be overcome swiftly. The harder challenges stem from the fact that whilst the working environment is changing, human beings not so much. Human adaptation takes time and this is why the promises of us being fast forwarded into some kind of a brave new world always fall short.
The human race is old, and during its existence it has slowly developed ways to survive. This toolkit is bolted in our brains and manifests itself in multiple ways. We cannot overnight, and not even over generation change what’s fulfilling for us, what drives us, what makes us feel safe or unsafe. New tools help us and we love our gadgets, but they are not the recipe for deeper fulfillment, we still need our social fabric and human tender, love and care. We need our structures and a campfire where we can share our stories and achievements.
A typical corporate or public organization, where the purpose is to create value in a highly organized way, is with all its flaws a great structure for social fulfillment. You have your colleagues, you have a joint purpose, you have prospects of progression and better days, you have recognition and reward as well as shared struggles and fear. You also have predictability and safety. Joint experiences, wins and losses alike, create stories and legends which give meaning for what we do.
If this structure gets revolutionized, something else will have to replace the community it creates. But what is it? Every operator in the society is trying to tackle these questions the best they can; government, corporates, entrepreneurs, employees, schools. There is definitely not a shortage of talk but is there walking the walk also, practical success stories? Here and there yes, but also an enormous demand to be filled by someone who gets it.
I just started as a board member at Innovation House Finland, a company that offers a coworking platform for corporates and startups. This doesn’t sound very unique, but as with all the ideas, only the implementation will dictate the success or failure. My due diligence into whether there’s something unique in what the entrepreneurs Petra and Katja have created, took maybe an hour. It’s evident that they get the social aspect. They are skilled organizers, work like ants but at the same time radiate benevolence and support. There’s no hero mentality or hawkish VC flavor in the hallways, drive for sure but with a twist. This is the modern campfire where stories get told and bonds forged.
These entrepreneurs have already achieved a lot. Customers love to work with the company, the first overseas location, Singapore gets opened within couple of weeks and new opportunities keep piling up. As with any growth company, the opportunities and enthusiasm need to be translated into sound business at some point. Even with this IHF is surprisingly far, the byproduct of their emotional success will undoubtedly be a financial success story. But it’s a byproduct. These people genuinely want to see their community members succeed. And that kind of inner drive is impossible to fake and very difficult to copy. Happy to chip in and sit in the front row as a great story unfolds.
– Ville Iho