Wow! How quickly the world of work has changed.
For years, it seemed like I was shouting, “Come on World! Just Do It!” And now, it has – with one, giant, agile leap into the future forced by lockdown into giving things a go and seeing what happens.
Here we find ourselves, 12 months on saying, “Oh my, we did it and we aren’t going back!” I’ve been watching closely to see how things now develop, there is so much more to this new way of working than sitting with a laptop at the kitchen table. One story I read in the last year really resonated with me – how the household disturbances that often worry people about working from home had actually enriched working relationships.1
Hey! Life happens, enjoy it!
I hope this shift will now bring about more change as we move towards a different future of work. I have talked before how my work journey has been helped greatly by permission to treat it as an experiment.2 Things can and will go wrong, but with simple adjustment, innovation and mind shifting you address the failure and try the next hypothesis. Twenty years on I’ve learned a lot and still have lots to learn. However, over the past ten years of full throttle practising in the Future of Work there is one process which has always been at the heart of the Ethos – our Value Exchange. That’s not to say it hasn’t changed over that time: It has been a brilliant challenge for me to think about how we systematise our Value Exchange process to recruit 30 Young Leaders. Together the Ethos community of Partners has worked with our Young Leaders to define our ‘Work Platform’ which comprises a number of elements:
- Our core values: trust, collaboration and moderation of self interest
- A technology platform to plan, develop and record work in progress (WIP)
- A mentoring system to support work delivery, process and human wellbeing
- Last but not least – the Value Exchange Dynamic (explained below)
The Ethos Value Exchange Dynamic is open and honest conversation through which the Ethos work community of partners and an individual are able to describe and document what meaningful and valuable work outcomes and deliverables they will look to achieve together over a set period (no more than 3 months).
The whole process is cyclical: from initial discussion, to starting to collaborate; to being recognised for our contributions, to revisiting and (if necessary) reshaping our personal goals. The dynamic driver is human energy which is endless when people are nurtured and encouraged, not criticised or blamed.
We have named it “The Value Exchange Dynamic”
Image: Value Exchange Dynamic by Young Leader, Sarah Fay
Work as an ongoing conversation
From the very first encounter with a potential Partner or Young Leader we start the conversation with an easily understood definition of what the Value Exchange is;
“This is an ongoing conversation of how we collaborate to achieve valuable outcomes.”
And from there, we let it develop.
Though we’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years we have learned much in the process. Our wisdom is this – the Value Exchange Dynamic is a wonderful and empowering experience, supporting a continually evolving relationship through work. This relationship is supported along the way with a peer to peer work system, this means there are no parents telling you what to do, all work is visible and if you want to engage you can seek to establish a value exchange to do so. It also requires mentorship – which covers these individual needs and wants:
- ‘work mentor’ to help get a focus on what I want to achieve and to guide me on the work platform
- ‘wellbeing mentor’ to ensure that my work-life balance is managed and when life inevitably impacts on my ability to work, to make the space I need to recover with community adaptation and support.
Underpinning this Value Exchange Dynamic is a human centric culture of permission (that word again), experimentation and innovation (permission to fail), of working out loud. Wellbeing is key, as is real flexibility, accountability and responsibility for oneself (you own your Value Exchange). We ask everyone to follow our behaviour manifesto which emphasises having ‘phun’ as a counterbalance to an earnest desire to bring about some positive social impact.
The year of 2021 is when we achieved something that seemed almost impossible – the creation of 30 new jobs as part of the government’s Kickstart scheme. The Ethos community asked our Young Leaders to capture their stories about how it has been for them: no brief, no input – just get on with it! This is what came out, I think it shines a light on how valuable the Value Exchange can be.
Call to action
Are you interested in the concept of the Value Exchange? Would you like to try it out in your business, community or organisation? We are happy to present our ideas and spread the word about the future of work.
We are interested in talking to third party organisations who would like to collaborate with us on development of the Ethos Work platform. Contact us if you are looking to create an impact on the future of work at scale.
Our project could reach many more people with backers. If you are a philanthropist looking for an ethical investment which delivers social value, contact us to see how we can help.