Does Future of Work = Less Collaboration?

By Lisa Baird

Something’s afoot in the future of work, but it’s hush-hush. People don’t like talking about it. "I know it is ugly to say ‘unicorn,’ but yeah, you kinda do have to be the unicorn," Chris Noessel, head of design for IBM’s transportation group, tells me. Before joining the tech giant, Mr. Noessel spent a decade at the design and strategy firm Cooper.

His former boss, Alan Cooper, who invented (and later sold to Microsoft) the core design for Visual Basic, is even more cautious around the subject. "I think we in the design profession do ourselves and our colleagues a disservice by even recognizing the argument that ‘unicorns’ exist."

Noessel and Cooper aren't talking about tech unicorns—startups valued at over $1 billion—they're talking about people. I asked them both about the type of person whose professional expertise is both deep and wide in multiple subject areas, and whether such a worker's already high value has risen in recent years. Cooper seems to reject the notion of such a person outright; Noessel doesn't but is uncomfortable with the notion of a "unicorn" worker in his field—somebody with vast experience in business, technology, and design. Yet both men are clearly more than a little polymathic themselves. (Read More..)