The Shift by Lynda Gratton

The Shift: Yorkshire Powerhouse Score 4/10

This book is based on facts, figures and ideas from leaders in their field.

Who will gain the most from reading this book?

An academic, for the average business leader it brings little but can stimulate thought.

Core Content

The future of work is already here:

The author starts from the following assumptions:

  • The Western political class will always be inept because it is only interested in re-election in the short term.
  • The world of finance will always cause the good and the bad weather because she thinks that financial crises will be even more recurring and pronounced and even the salaries of managers of large corporations are likely to rise disproportionately.
  • Water, Energy and Earth will be increasingly limited resources because world population is expected to increase more and more.
  • Knowledge becomes increasingly digital, so there will be more and more knowledge workers who carry out their work from home thanks to the rapid expansion of digital technologies. Also, because human moves will become increasingly expensive (because of soaring energy prices) then this kind of career choice will become a must.

Reviewing books that predict the future is always tricky and by definition creates a review that does not stand the test of time. This review started from that perspective. The identification of 5 very obvious themes (technology, globalisation, demography & longevity, society, and energy resources) does little to enthuse the reader initially or to lift any scepticism.

The author then goes on to envisage two possible scenarios, good and bad, for the future of “workkind” across the globe. It is at this point the book begins to grab attention. She outlines the forces that she believes will shape the world of work in the future namely:

  • The move from generalist to serial mastery
  • The move from isolated competitor to innovative connector
  • Lastly the move from voracious consumer to impassioned producer

The latter not easy to subscribe to since some of these behaviours are fundamental to human behaviour. It could be the author’s background and age are clouding her judgement.

However I believe she is spot on in her identification of the first two shifts. Employability will come from having skills the marketplace will buy. The more skilled you are, the more employable you are. This mastery is based upon loving what you do.

The author introduces the concept of career carillon curves, not one career but several moving through the bell shaped curves from entry to maturity over a working life in excess of 60 years. She also describes career mosaics, periods of work interspersed with periods of learning, refreshment and development.

The second shift paints a picture of a world in which businesses collaborate and form the development of symbiotic relationships and reciprocity. A world where, as a result of collaborative technologies, one and one equals three.

So despite cynicism, it is easy to be won over. This is a book well worth reading. It is clear that the future of work will be different from today, the author may well be mistaken, but she does give you plenty of food for thought.

Typically, a book about the future tends to exaggerate the advances in science and technology, which is where this book shines: it’s based on facts, figures and ideas from leaders in their field, and the scenarios presented are very believable.

Could a Yorkshire perspective improve this book?

Lynda Gratton slips into her business world jargon which is fine for students but irritating for the general reader.

Review Takeaway:

Computerisation has taken over the jobs of millions, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Yorkshire Powerhouse thinking,

Click here for a quick link to purchase The Shift from Amazon

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