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The Shift Paperback – 12 May 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Business (12 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000742793X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007427932
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘A compendium of modern management and social science theories … the novelty of Gratton’s book is her synthesis of so many contemporary ideas about the changes to our working lives’ – FINANCIAL TIMES (book of the year)

‘Uses historical context brilliantly to put the megatrends … into perspective … simply brilliant. Inspirational and provocative’ HR MAGAZINE

‘Sensible, informative and wise’ – EASTERN DAILY PRESS

‘This book helped me think about the future from a people perspective as no other book has’ – PEOPLE MANAGEMENT

About the Author

Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and is the founder of the Hot Spots Movement. She has written six books and numerous academic articles and is considered one of the world's authorities on people in organizations.

She has been ranked by The Times as one of the top 20 Business Thinkers in the world today and by The Financial Times selected her as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next decade. She was also in the top two of the Human Resources Magazine's "HR Top 100: Most Influential" poll and actively advises companies across the world.

In November 2010 in New York, Lynda was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Everybody wants to know what's around the corner. With respect to your career this will give you a glimpse

Jaw dropping scholarship. Lynda Gratton has assimilated a huge amount of data and analysis from around the world, amalgamated it with the feedback from her consultancy work with leading global multi nationals and then extended the thinking forward by 20 - 25 years.

This is a `must read' for anybody aged 18 - 30 and their parents to plan their careers effectively. I am a management consultant in my 60s and no longer planning ahead my work for the next 25 years, but I found her ideas stimulating and they made me think - no mean feat for a book on management.

If the book has any weaknesses they might be summed up as follows. It is possible that the scenarios describe well educated, liberal thinking executives who attend Prof Gratton's courses. Do they represent a big enough percentage of the working population to allow broad canvass conclusions applicable to all ?

The scenario for workers in China is unlikely to be realised without radical changes in their political system and this is not touched on. The method of controlling multi nationals will need to be revised too as only this week Beijing has fined Unilever £188m for talking about price rises even though they were not put into effect. That will not bode well for the scenarios described in the book.
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To be frank, the marketing of this book is slightly overdone. I was expecting a book about future organization models and how employees would blend to it (or vice-versa). The first half of the book certainly gave me that. In its clever `gloomy vs bright' scenarios, it provides a thorough view of the future(s) we might have to deal with -or choose to, as is the writer's main point. It's not an or-or play, so laying all these scenario's together probably gives a good idea about the future.

The second part feels like aiming at young graduates or people who feel desperately trapped in their current work environment. To them the book is probably worth 5 stars, I admit. For those like me who are already living at the verge of these trends, t will bring no real value.

Overall well worth reading, and even a must read for some.
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I thought The Shift was fascinating. It is clear that Gratton did an extensive amount of research, gathering data and speaking to companies around the world and across different sectors. The forces that the book predicts will shape the future of work are quite relevant; although they are "hot" topics, I had not previously considered how things like reducing our carbon footprint would impact the work environment. As an MBA considering my next career move, I found this book both thought-provoking and fun to read. I would highly recommend it.
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There are two kinds of Shifts:

The first, which I did not expect, is an inner value based change taking hold in Western society, which is not so explicitly described but more of a running under-commentary. For example the third sector might be already leading the way as candidly revealed in the following quote in the book by a manager at Save The Children: "In organisations where you can't afford to recognise achievement with pay, what reward do you give instead? For me the important [productive] experiences are those of leadership, responsibility and decision making which contribute to my sense of well being at work, and if I think back I would be willing to sacrifice 'stuff' in order to be exposed to those opportunities earlier."

Work has been traditionally defined as a social marker of mainstream aspirational values in terms of providing the wherewithal for consuming a house and a smart car. But a necessary question the author returns to is is this model sustainable, and will our future working lives be so conditioned by economic utility?

Though the answer to this question is not simple, with a widening of the gap between those with and without economic and cultural capital becoming even more pronounced, Gratton sees the traditional contract of a parent-child relationship - once implicitly accepted by pre- and baby boomers - being challenged in making the choices that are not necessarily served through pay. Instead, there is the acceptance of the responsibility of free will of what can be changed and our personal circumstances in what cannot be changed.
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I don't normally do books predicting the future. I started reading this book from that perspective. The identification of 5 very obvious themes (technology, globalisation, demography & longevity, society, and energy resources) did little to lift my scepticism. Gratton then goes to envisage two possible scenarios, good and bad for the future of "workkind" across the globe. I suppose it was at that point it began to grab my attention. She outlines the forces that she believes will shape the world of work in the future namely:
The move from generalist to serial mastery
From isolated competitor to innovative connector
And lastly from voracious consumer to impassioned producer.
The latter I am not sure I subscribe to since I think some of these behaviours are fundamental to human behaviour. I fear the author's background and age are clouding her judgement. However I believe she is spot on in her identification of the first two shifts. Employability will come from having skills the marketplace will buy. The more skilled you are, the more employable you are. This mastery is based upon loving what you do. She introduces the concept of career carillon curves, not one career but several moving through the bell shaped curves from entry to maturity over a working life in excess of 60 years. She also describes career mosaics, periods of work interspersed with periods of learning, refreshment and development.
The second shift paints a picture of a world in which businesses collaborates, the development of symbiotic relationships, reciprocity. A world were as a result of collaborative technologies one and one equals three.
So despite my initial cynicism she won me over. This is a book well worth reading. I am absolutely certain the future of work will be different from today, the author may well be mistaken, but she does give you plenty of food for thought.
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