Technology is changing almost everything. Management guru Tom Peters argues it's also going to change the entire landscape of work. In his set of self-help books for professionals, the Reinventing Work series, he declares that "90-plus percent of white-collar jobs will disappear."
Downsizing ain't over, but Peters claims he can help you through it.
The employment landscape is going to be full of "free agents," he says, and if these newly "freed" individuals want to succeed, they'll need a new approach to their jobs. One way is by approaching work as a set of projects. Find out what's most interesting about each project and thrive on that, Peters advises.
In his latest publishing project, Peters urges readers to forget about loyalty to a particular company and replace it with a self-motivated dedication to the work at hand.
The entire book series has the feel of something transcribed from one of Peters' motivational speeches; his use of bold letters, ellipses, exclamation points and oversize type is perhaps a better fit with the lecture circuit than the publishing world.
Knopf plans five books in the Reinventing Work series, but for now, there are three: The Brand You, The Project and The Professional Service Firm.
Each of the pocket-size hardbacks starts with a description of an unemployed, Dilbert-ized landscape, followed by 50 ways to sidestep such a fate. In The Brand You, the list of 50 ideas includes a chapter titled "'Inc.' Yourself." After a comment on the concept, Peters launches into The Nub, his plan for making the affirmations take flight. The idea is to visualize yourself as a company - with departments, goals, bottom lines, branding. The chapters close with a Thing to Do section. In this case, it's two things: adding an "Inc." to your name, and treating every to-do list like you're preparing for the next quarterly board meeting.
By turning everyday work into interesting and inspiring projects, Peters believes workers will become self-motivated, completed projects will become more innovative and companies will become less stagnant.
Peters constantly reassures readers that they are worthy of independence. Anyone can follow the path to success, he encourages, although he tempers his enthusiasm with comments like, "I'm not living in dreamland. I know not everyone can be a superstar."
The free-agent concept applies particularly well to the online industry, where companies must grow quickly to have more than a slim chance of succeeding. In a free-agent world, workers aren't disappointed when their company tanks, but instead move on to the next project. In fact, the rampant job-hopping in the Internet Economy has been one of the original drivers of the free-agent workforce. Establishing a reputation, networking and positioning one's easily digestible brand: That's perfect for the Net.
If you're looking for rose-colored lenses for your job, Peters has what you need. This self-help series is mostly about making work fun, which isn't a bad idea, after all.
- Laura Rich