Non Fungible Work.

Much is made at the moment of NFTs – non-fungible tokens, unique and non-interchangeable units of data stored on a blockchain.

It got me thinking about our work relationships. In the industrial era, we have all been educated and trained to make us extremely fungible. The relationship between our qualifications, role descriptions and organisations depends on it. Fungibility is what gives employers power.

What happens then, I wonder, as Internet 3.0 starts to change all that? When blockchains give us the ability to record and validate everything we have done, as employees and good old humans, from our MBA’s to the poetry we have written and the adventures we have been on? When technology allows us to create “pop up” project teams formed from the optimum mix of skills, motivations and price, whilst the fungible part of what we do today increasingly gets handed over to algorithms. What might happen, I wonder, to organisations as a result, as offices are not needed and technology replaces management?

Of course, we don’t know precisely, but the generality remains important. We would do well to develop those parts of us that make us less fungible – the parts of us that qualifications cannot reach. The things that enliven our souls and cement our relationships. We may well increase our chances of doing work that makes our souls sing, rather than shrivel.

But there is work to do. Qualifications will remain important, but only a ticket to the game. On their own, qualifications make us fungible, but when combined with personality, relationships, purpose, networks and a sense of direction all of our own make us much less so.

I have often mentioned the line that we become the average of the five people we most associate with, and that looks like becoming truer and more important than ever. Qualifications, from NVQs to Ph.Ds classify us as workers, and knowledge is ubiquitous and free, but creativity, curiosity, humour, our ability to collaborate and all the qualities we cannot measure are priceless.

If we want to do the work we were born to do, qualifications are the least of our concerns.

Becoming non fungible is where we need to be heading.

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