U.S. Navy pi­o­neers new work­place con­cept

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion -

Amer­ica’sNavy is de­vel­op­ing a new con­cept for its ves­sels that may lead to ma­jor changes in com­mer­cial and other gov­ern­men­tal work­places across the United States. Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in The

At­lantic mag­a­zine’s July edi­tion, writ­ten by Jerry Useem, the in­no­va­tive sys­tem is be­ing prac­ticed on “a cut­ting-edge Navy ship where spe­cial­iza­tion is out, learn­ing never stops, and one sailor does the job of five.”

The ques­tion: “Is this the fu­ture of work?”

For cen­turies, em­ploy­ees in work­places around the world have been en­cour­aged to con­cen­trate on de­vel­op­ing a sin­gle skill to near per­fec­tion.

The Navy in­no­va­tion is de­scribed as “min­i­mal man­ning — and with it, the re­place­ment of spe­cial­ized work­ers with prob­lem-solv­ing gen­er­al­ists.”

The sys­tem is re­flected in the old in­struc­tion to work­ers, “do more with less.”

By 2020, a 2016 World Eco­nomic Fo­rum re­port pre­dicted, “more

than one-third of the de­sired core skill sets of most oc­cu­pa­tions” will not have been seen as cru­cial to the job when the re­port was pub­lished. If that’s the case, the jour­nal­ist asked, why should any­one take the time to master any­thing at all?

“You shouldn’t!” John Sul­li­van, a prom­i­nent Sil­i­con Val­ley tal­ent ad­viser told him.

“How deep th­ese im­pli­ca­tions go de­pends, ul­ti­mately, on how closely em­ploy­ers em­brace the con­cepts be­hind min­i­mal man­ning. The Navy, cu­ri­ously, has pushed the idea for­ward with an aban­don un­seen any­where on land,” Useem wrote.

Within a few years, 35 lit­toral (“re­lat­ing to or sit­u­ated on the shore of the sea or a lake) com­bat ships will be afloat, along with three min­i­mally manned de­stroy­ers of the new Zumwalt class.

Useem asked, “Can a few bril­liant, quick-think­ing gen­er­al­ists re­ally re­place a fleet of spe­cial­ists? Is the value of true ex­per­tise in se­ri­ous de­cline?”

The an­swer: The ship is the

most fu­tur­is­tic as­pect is the crew. The LCS was the first class of Navy ships that, be­cause its in­sides can be swapped out in port, al­lows it to set sail as a sub­ma­rine hunter, minesweepe­r, or sur­face com­bat­ant, depend­ing on the mis­sion.

The ship was de­signed to op­er­ate with a mere 40 crew mem­bers — one fifth the num­ber aboard com­pa­ra­bly sized “legacy” ships and a far cry from the 350 aboard a World War II de­stroyer.

As com­pared to the 240 years of tra­di­tion that have previously been pre­scribed, the small size of the crews means that each sailor must be like the ship it­self: a jack of many trades and not a master of just one.

On most Navy ships, only a boatswain’s mate — the old­est of the Navy’s 60-odd oc­cu­pa­tions — would be han­dling the ropes. But none of the three sailors heav­ing on the on the ship’s ropes is a line-han­dling pro­fes­sional. One is an in­for­ma­tion-sys­tems tech­ni­cian. The sec­ond is a gun­ner’s mate. And the third is a chef.

Deloitte con­sul­tant Erica Volini projects that 10 years from now, 70-90% of work­ers will be in so-called hy­brid jobs or su­per jobs — that is, po­si­tions com­bin­ing tasks once per­formed by peo­ple in two or more tra­di­tional roles.

If pri­vate com­pa­nies and gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies find that this new con­cept can pro­duce large amounts of work prod­ucts with just a frac­tion of work­ers, the idea may well catch on for a more abun­dant fu­ture for all Amer­i­cans.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.