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ROBERT GOLDMAN: Adaptable You

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Robert Goldman

Well, it’s happened again.

Just when you thought you were on top of today’s top trends in business, you learn that you are woefully behind the eight ball (the 1-7 balls, as well, but who’s counting?).

My ah-ha, who-hah moment came with a rather overwrought email from the citrix company. “Last chance!” the ominous subject line read. “Register now for the Future of the Adaptive Workplace.”

“Time is running out,” the email continued. To say that I was totally in a tizz is to understate the matter. I had no idea what an adaptive workplace was, but I knew I wanted one. And obviously, I had no time to wait.

“This is it,” the email confirmed, “the future starts tomorrow.”

I’m sure that if you received this email, you would have jumped into action and immediately registered for the virtual event. Unfortunately, I had some very important TV scheduled for tomorrow -- an even newer reboot of the new reboot of “Supermarket Sweep,” in which contestants race through supermarket aisles, searching hopelessly for toilet paper.

So, let’s just say that, for me, the future starts the day after tomorrow.

If you want to know what the adaptive workplace means for you and what it would take for you to succeed in “the new world of work,” a good first step would be to understand what exactly an adaptive workplace is.

The citrix email is a little vague on the subject -- exactly what you’d expect from a company so lazy it can’t stick a capital letter in its name -- but I did find a somewhat helpful exegesis from Forrester, which still didn’t tell me what an adaptative workplace was but did confirm I needed one.

“Adaptive enterprises win,” Forester explained, “by identifying future opportunities and proactively reconfiguring themselves.”

Reading further, I learned that to make the reconfiguration successful requires a company to become “burstable” and “composable.”

You’re all for being burstable, I know. If you get any more work, you surely will burst. But “composable” should scare you. As Forester explains it, “Swarm teams, which assemble employees from cross-functional groups to destroy silos, drive innovation, and solve problems, exemplify the adaptive workforce. They can be assembled and disassembled as projects complete or as conditions evolve.”

You certainly don’t mind a little swarming now and then, but you definitely don’t want to be disassembled, especially if it means getting reassembled in the parking lot of the unemployment office.

But back to the future (of the Adaptive Workplace event).

Whether or not we will ever find out what an adaptable workplace is, the citrix email did tempt me with a few of the subjects to be discussed and dissected at the virtual event. I list these below, along with my advice on which can’t-miss matters you absolutely need to know, and which you absolutely don’t.

-- “Strategic guidance to set your agenda with a technical vision for the modern adaptive workplace.”

Definite miss. You already have set your tech agenda -- every workplace gets a lightbulb. Electricity may be “old-school” technology, but it’s a lot easier to develop a technical vision if you can see what the heck you’re doing.

-- “Technical training to deliver whatever, wherever with full security -- and no friction.”

Maybe skip this session, too. Next time you’re late on a project, tell your manager, “Yeah, I’ll deliver whatever, wherever.” You’ll see friction, guaranteed.

-- “A day in the life of the new normal.”

Hard skip. Unless the new normal starts with you waking up at 10 and quitting at 2, with a three-hour lunch in between, you’re not interested.

-- “LEGO-building competition” and “chances to win neat prizes.”

Can’t miss. If you ever suspected that your manager had the mind of a 12-year-old, here’s proof. (To all 12-year-olds reading this, I apologize.)

Still wavering on attending the conference? The email closes out with an irresistible promise: You can “earn badges for your engagement throughout the day -- with fun prizes at stake.”

I don’t know about you, but this talk of fun prizes and badges confirms my doubts about the seriousness of the conference organizers at citrix. What’s next -- virtual spin the bottle?

With apologies to citrix, Google and, most all, LEGO, a company that appreciates the value of capital letters, I’ve come to believe that an adaptive workplace is a workplace where you don’t have to worry about whether you are an adaptive workplace.

It’s the most productive way to get your work done and still have time for “Supermarket Sweep.”

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