Inside-Out Doughnuts

I’ve been reading through Charles Handy’s The Age of Paradox again. Even though this book is more than 15 years old, it still seems so relevant to today. Some of his examples are a bit outdated, but his principles are not. I  love his metaphors, especially the inside-out doughnut metaphor. It’s a tough concept to try to explain in a few words, but he basically argues that future work-lives will look much different as we build portfolios, rather than a single job (he expands the metaphor to other facets of our lives as well).

It’s interesting to think about, especially with the tumultuous careers most of us have ahead of us. Am I guaranteed future employment? Nope. I sure hope I’m employed at my present job (I love my job!), but so much can happen in a few short years. Our economy can tank and the Alberta government could begin cutbacks again. Really, even though I feel secure, nothing ever is secure. Nothing is truly guaranteed. Handy foresaw this collective insecurity in advocating a portfolio life. I have one employer right now, but I do have the option of building a portfolio life of working, teaching, and consulting in the future. I guess it’s a defense mechanism, just-in-case _______ happens (I’m not sure what the blank is, but I hope I’m prepared). Maybe the portfolio life is an insurance policy to defend against inevitable ups and downs in our working careers.

Organizationally, this metaphor gets a little complicated. Outsourcing work sometimes saves money, but it also diminishes control. It’s tough to impart a vision to people who don’t technically work for you. They can fake it, but will they live it?

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About Tim Vanderpyl
I am a student of leadership and human resources, and I'm blogging to share some of my thoughts and ideas with readers. I'm a CHRP (Certified Human Resource Professional) at a large healthcare organization, a graduate of Regent University's Doctor of Strategic Leadership program, and lover of the life that God has gifted me with.

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