The Future of Work: Driven by People’s Values – Part 2

Future Developments – Led by Inner Directeds

Most of the changes we have seen over the last 35 years have come from the Inner Directed Group. The collaborative economy and crowd-sourcing in almost every area of life (products, services, food, transportation, physical space and money)  are two of the major trends started by these Inner Directeds – satisfying their desires for smaller-scale, customized, personalized goods and services, on the one hand, and their interest in small businesses, self-employment, people-orientation and personal freedom, on the other.

Editor’s Note: See Part 1 HERE

This trend is very likely to continue.   They were the developers of much modern technology – especially IT – and the use of it for gaming, VR and AR.  They are also the people who started all the interest and trends in physical fitness, healthy eating and alternative medicine.  They have high levels of interest in many things, and they want to want to find interesting and meaningful work.  If they can’t, then their energy and passion will go into non-work interests.

Trends trickle down from Inner Directeds to Outer Directeds (12-24 months) and then to Sustenance Driven (2-5 years.)   These trends start with behavior, and eventually influence values.)

So what might a technology company, for instance, do to attract and retain such people, since they are smart and innovative, and the most likely people to succeed in this Post Knowledge Era?  It’s likely to be the retain aspect that will be difficult.  Tech companies are likely to compete for Inner Directeds in order to have a pool of risk takers to pursue new ideas for products and services.  There is no one simple answer and they will need to develop business models to accommodate Inner Directed requirements that are, themselves, changing.  For instance, 30 years ago, one large company offered 6 months paid vacation to two mid-level R&D people to go to Florence to study Renaissance art and science.   Another gave a vacation to enable an employee to sail in a round-the-world race.  And, by the way, when these three people returned, they were brimming with new ideas.  So to recruit and retain this talent pool, they will need to understand their employees as people – even at the individual level – who have their own interests and needs. They will then need to provide them with quality of life, time, education, autonomy, personal growth, good working relationships, sense of meaning, sense of contribution incentives, but not necessarily money. This requires investments in cutting edge technology, a regular stream of projects that provide a sense of meaning and…..a completely different approach to HR.  This completely different approach to HR will include selecting HR people who are also Inner Directeds (and I suspect most are not) or people with good emotional intelligence.  To generalize, the values of the HR people need to match those of the desired recruits.

People who want to be seen as successful business leaders are likely to be Outer Directed.  Inner Directeds will want the results of their work to succeed – many get turned on by ideas, but they may not be the best leaders/managers (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates…)  There will be those who combine ideas with interest in people and have good soft skills – Richard Branson, Ben Carson, Louise Hay.  Inner Directeds are more likely to want to be part of organizations that share their values – rather than offering just good pay and advancement.   Recognizing this, many CEOs are developing Value Statements that are on display everywhere, but they need to live the values.  One CEO was always talking about his respect for others – the #1 bullet on his value statement – but he was always late for meetings, even when they were arranged by him, and when asked about it, he had no idea that wasting people’s time was conveying disrespect.

As general background about how the world of work is changing:

In 2013, Forbes said:

1)  There are almost 28 million small businesses in the US and over 22 million are self- employed – a total of more than 50% of the population is in small businesses.
2)   Small businesses have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995
3)  52% of all small businesses are home-based

These numbers have probably grown since 2013 – although data are difficult to find – and much of the growth will have been fueled by the Inner Directeds who want autonomy.  Because they like to work with people, many of these small businesses are in healthcare, personal services, knowledge-based services, hi-tech services, entertainment…

At the same time, technology developments are growing ever more rapidly – with “robots” in some form or another replacing human operators and performing wide ranges of activities with super-human speed, accuracy and efficiency.  And many of these developments are made by Inner Directed scientists and technologists (most scientists are Inner Directed.)  The owners are likely to be predominantly Outer Directed with Inner Directeds providing the technology.  The job losses caused by automation, especially in traditional industries, are likely to be those of the Sustenance driven – mostly semi-skilled or unskilled.

Let us take a look at what Inner Directeds want from work.  

Inner Directed Motivation and Rewards – both individual and group:

  • Invention, innovation and risk-taking – these are strong motivators.
  • Researching and finding solutions
  • Rewards based on contribution to groups results – or, for self-employed, based on individual results and customer assessment (they want to learn from mistakes)
  • Status and money are relatively unimportant
  • Valued rewards:  Quality of life, Time, Education, Autonomy, Personal growth, Good working relationships, Sense of meaning, Sense of contribution, Fun – including “Friday afternoon beer-bashes”

Organizational Culture:

  • Want guidelines and vision for the WHAT, but freedom to choose the HOW
  • Information should be shared freely and openly
  • Competition – if competition is fun, it is OK, but it’s often seen as damaging.  Collaboration is better.
  • Embraces change – seen as a way of life
  • Risk is to be handled, not avoided
  • Decision making – want group participation to bring together expertise
  • Want flexible resourcing to meet the needs of the situation
  • Generally open, transparent, flexible and fun.

Organizational Change:

  • Organizational structure – adaptive, networked relationships, even across hierarchies – but prefer networks
  • Role of leader – provider of intent, facilitator, guide – works across organizations
  • Role of manager – manages relationships, processes, within and between organizations
  • Participative leadership and management, especially for planning and adaptive, emergent action
  • Networking – important for relationships within and across organizations
  •  Interpersonal focus – relationship, not task-oriented
  • Career and personal development – seeks greater responsibility and mobility for own development.


Christine MacNulty
Christine MacNulty
CHRISTINE MacNulty has forty years’ experience as a consultant in long-term strategic -planning for concepts as well as organizations, futures studies, foresight, and technology forecasting, technology assessment and related areas, as well as socio-cultural change. For the last twenty years, most of her consultancy has been conducted for the Department of Defense and the Services, NATO ACT, NATO NEC, the British Army’s Force Development & Training Command, and the German BBK. Prior to that her work was in the commercial arena where she had Fortune Global 500 clients. During the last thirty-five years Christine MacNulty has contributed methods and models for understanding social and cultural change through people’s values. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1989. She is the coauthor of two books: Industrial Applications of Technology Forecasting, Wiley, 1971 and Strategy with Passion – A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016. Her paper: “Method for minimizing the negative consequences of nth order effects in strategic communication actions and inactions” was published in NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal, p 99, Winter 2015. Two monographs “Truth, Perception & Consequences” (2007) and “Transformation: From the Outside In or the Inside Out” (2008) were published by the Army War College. Perceptions, Values & Motivations in Cyberspace appeared in the IO Journal, 3rd Quarter, 2009, and The Value of Values for IO, SC & Intel was published in the August 2010 edition of the IO Journal.

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  1. Hi Chris, I’ll vote up since, while I agree with much of the point you make, I think that a lot pf people look at different numbers. It’s not about pure productivity, but about other things such as ease of managing a robot versus a person, fewer hassles, ease of training, not having people available, greater reliability… And, we are seeing more and more people wanting to work for small businesses and even start their own businesses. They want greater freedom and autonomy, and are less interested in wages. So the whole environment is changing.

  2. All excellent points and added value for robots. But we must always start with ratios and investments. That’s what the guys with the money want to know. They will say, I have X dollars. I can give 10% to Humans, 30% to Data, and 60% to Robots. When I do that, I want my returns to be 110%, 150%, and 300%..

    If we stray away from the dollar conversation and go about benefits and added value, we will follow Alice down that rabbit hole having a long winded conversation with the Mad Hatter.