ATD Blog

Perpetual Beta: The New World of Work

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The current landscape of volatility and accelerating change has made the ability to adopt fresh skills and embrace new learning imperative. In fact, our environment of constant disruption has made the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn the difference between success and failure. The need for increased agility in leadership and business practices has many embracing a mindset and culture of perpetual betacommonly used as a phrase to describe the development of new technology in an open environment.

There is a growing number of individuals and firms leveraging a “never finished” approach to developing innovations, strategies, and organizational structures. Going beyond fail fast doctrines or other innovation du jour measures that rarely last, perpetual beta assumes the creation of a resilient organizational culture—think Zappos—that enables a company to continually and successfully reinvent itself and its business model year after year as the landscape evolves.

A central aspect of this mindset is the shift from a closed environment in business and culture to one that is open and collaborative. Even though the Industrial Age brought us many wonderful advances in technology and social development, it also reinforced the idea of placing firewalls around our structures, practices, and ideas.

With the advent of social networking, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and open-sourced innovation, we are seeing a move from top-down, “command and control” business to more power being placed in the hands of individuals. Additionally, this transition to openness has been demonstrated at the national and local levels, as cities change the way they grow and distribute food or create currency around ethics, reputation, and passions.


The shift to greater openness and the power of a perpetual beta mindset signal the emergence of a landscape where people are reframing the entire meaning of work, exploring careers across different disciplines and functional areas, embracing their creative and entrepreneurial spirits, and developing passion-based lifestyles. The increased complexity, ambiguity, and volatility in business, coupled with shifting employee values, are causing career paths to unfold in much less centralized ways. As a result, individuals with mindsets that thrive under uncertainty and who enjoy recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions will be the most successful in the 21st century.


To learn how to navigate the new world of work, check out these upcoming Human Capital programs and workshops:


About the Author

Yvette Montero Salvatico is cofounder and managing director of TFSX. Holding a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA from the University of Florida, Salvatico has more than 15 years of corporate experience with large, multinational firms such as Kimberly-Clark and the Walt Disney Company. Before cofounding TFSX, she led the effort to establish the Future Workforce Insights division at the Walt Disney Company, identifying future workforce trends and leveraging foresight models and techniques to assess potential threats and impacts, emerging ideas, and exciting opportunities for the organization.

With membership in organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management, Association for Talent Development, Association for Professional Futurists, and World Futures Society, Salvatico is an experienced and polished speaker, leadership coach, and consultant, addressing large audiences and organizations on topics such as business policy, talent, work, diversity, career management, strategy, innovation, foresight, and futures thinking.

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