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Competo – The Future of Work Event 2016, Perry Timms blog


Blog post to precede the keynote speech Perry Timms – HR Futurologist and Chief Energy Officer – PTHR

We are all fascinated, frightened and perhaps philosophical about the future. Our future. Your future. The future of society and work. That we are in times of disruptive innovation only adds to our emotional reaction to our thoughts of the future. We can be an optimists about the future; be pessimists or as my good friend and renowned Futurologist and Trend Spotter Magnus Lindkvist recently wrote, we could all be possibilists about the future. There are possibilities in an abundant form like we have never imagined or experienced before.

Let’s start with the big ticket issues: will we see a new economic model take over from the current neo-liberal form of capitalism? Will we see – as people like Umair Haque, Raj Sissodia and Thomas Picketty have claimed, a new form of conscious capitalism, a recycling of profit and a value + impact over wealth + acquisition approaches to life and business? Will we see ourselves living in a post-materialistic, leasing mentality with the concept of ownership replaced by the use and reuse in the so-called sharing or collaborative consumption economy?

Whatever the economic model, it feels like the existing one has reached its use-by date but money still talks – for now. The other big ticket issue is work. The product of capitalism is goods and services that enrich lives. To make the most of this, people need to earn money (unless they are fortunate enough to inherit) and that means work. And in most cases jobs. I say most cases as this is also being challenged. The concept of employment. Of ownership and allegiance to the corporate brand. The uniform, the values set, the benefits package. Gary Hamel – the World’s Number 1 Business Thinker – says we’re moving out of the job-based controlist term into what has been coined by Nilofer Merchant’s work on value in the social era as “work not jobs”. The concept of not being owned by the corporation but allies to its cause; hired for specific tasks and activities but free to move around the labour market and endow others with your skills, passions and endeavours.

This aspect – work over jobs – probably has the biggest controversial impact to the world of work and indeed to Competo and all those in the recruitment industry. Or does it?

Tenureship, movement of roles, competition for top talent is ALREADY changing this dynamic let alone the rise of the so-called gig economy and the prediction that is coming true of Charles Handy’s portfolio career. I am sure when Handy coined the phrase, he was envisioning silver haired men and women in the twilight of their careers, backed with some form of equity pension surety and dabbling in Non-Executive roles, charitable pursuits and consulting ventures. But in reality this is appealing to twenty-somethings, tech startup entrepreneurs in their teens and even high school grads shunning the idea of a static university education in favour of gigging.

However you feel or whatever you believe in the changes in the “job” market, we are in the midst of a lot of change. People doing work for free on Wikipedia, hiring for short term coding assignments through Stack Overflow and GitHub, or in exchange for other services via Skilltrade and Upwork. These are friction free ways to find and do work. Via a technological social platform. Get paid or trade (I’ll write you a marketing blog if you can design me a logo). Are they end of recruiters? Not yet certainly but they are challenging the traditional agency model of registering and the intermediary matches work and a worker. So my prediction for the recruiter or head hunter of the future will be along these lines.

  1. An absolute A-list type networker. It’s not enough to be connected to many people, you will need to know them, understand them and be able to act in an agent capacity for workers as much as you do client organisations. We will probably see more professional networkers coming into their own as they will know the person in terms of their values, skills, habits, preferences, morals and ethos and even what charitable causes they support. The package of the future will be less cash and bonus and more a big shopping list of benefits, societal good, communality, giving and ecologically transparent operating principles. If you’re to beat the social networks, search algorithms and direct hiring processes, you will need to add value by providing outrageously good matching of work and worker.
  2. An analyst / programmer. OK maybe not a full on coder but more than just a Boolean string creator. The ability to understand data science, to utilise analytical skills in data mining and information wrangling will need to be coupled with the ability to create at least search-related algorithms and understand machine learning. The search tools of the future will have much more context-specific processing power. Google’s next version of speech to search will be about “things not strings”. It will learn with you as you talk through search criteria to retrieve information about people and organisations. Understanding how to make the most of these sophisticated search tools will bring to life Clay Shirky’s theory – that we’re not in an information overload situation, it’s a filtering problem. You will be a master filtration expert.
  3. A life partner. Such is the power of relationships, all recruiting will be showing value by going beyond hiring. You will be the coach, confidante and collaborator of those who have work and those who want work. The equivalent of a life-long personal stylist, you will be helping people find fulfilling work and helping organisations find amazing people to do that work. It will need to be beyond the mere hiring request and invoice clearance. You will help people with pre and on-boarding, you will help with team integration, cultural and values related dialogue, career enhancement, personal mission fulfillment and help with exit and transition. This may sound like something you do now, and if so, great; you’re asymmetrically part of the future. Yet it will be like a concierge service and there will be more of you doing this for people, more intimately and with clients who trust and appreciate you as if you were their own.

It’s humanity and emotional and social intelligence that will win the so called war for talent. The job boards, the machine-like hiring and the social networks will have their place but this kind of premier league, platinum service will see people and work much more aligned in a harmonious, fulfilling and joyful symbiosis. People make organisations and working with great people in great organisations makes great people. Hiring those great people through being the supreme networker, the coder and analyst and the life-long coaching partner could well be the magic trio of successful recruiting for many years to come. Or there’s likely a robot out there somewhere that might suffice…


Perry Timms

Founder – PTHR & the iPractice

Social Media & HR Adviser to the CIPD

Visiting Fellow – Sheffield Hallam University Business School

Fellow – the

Fellow – the Corporate Rebels

Non-Executive Director – Starling Arts

Chief Connector and Certified Freedom at Work coach –

Futurist – IBM Future of Work Programme

TEDx Speaker – The Future of Work

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