The flatter we get the more Jelly we need

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By now, we have all been told the world is flat. If you missed it then, I am telling you the world got flat a while back and nothing will ever be the same. That spells opportunity for almost everyone and in areas that go beyond finding the lowest cost labor or outsourcing non-critical parts of the business. Quite literally, businesses are driving to be more than globally present, but integrated to act as one even if that one is made up of many.

There is a chapter that seems to be overlooked – leading and managing the globally distributed team. As far as I can tell, experts are rare. Conferences often have dozens of consultants that can help do it better, highlight common pitfalls, and yet will admit that everyone is still learning and many see it as an upfront cost of their future business. The mythical twenty-four hour workday is something requiring the highest precision and, from my own experience, exercises leadership muscles that draw upon core energy from intuition and values. Regardless, we are all experiencing a world where the focus is distributing talent often exemplified by the mobile worker, someone who is almost entirely self-sufficient without the traditional office space. Self-sufficient says nothing about productivity or impact. In fact, the mobile worker might save enough money for a business that less still ends up being more – the mobile worker gets less done, but costs less overall doing it. Reflecting in that light and there is nothing like setting out to fall short of remarkable.

This past week NPR ran a story on Jelly, a gathering of professionals working from a participant’s home letting people get the collaborative social aspects of a dynamic workplace without all the political overhead associated with the traditional workplace. Anyone is invited to Jelly and any profession goes – all you need is to remember that people are not gathering to hide in the corner alone, an open mind and suddenly you may have some of the creative and technical types missing from your day job. There is something utterly compelling about this approach to the workplace. No one makes it to the top alone and if your cats are your only collaborators, the mountain might grow faster than you climb.

As we distribute our work across the world, how do we Jelly? Without this level of exchange, we risk our creativity dying from the limited recirculation of thoughts. HP saw value in forcing a portion of their workforce back into the office. Innovation labs found in academia and industry tout the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Jellys could reach beyond the work-at-home’s working together to businesses looking to work better together if even far apart.

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