Professor at London Business School
Lynda Gratton is a Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and is one of the World’s foremost thinkers at the intersection of leadership, the world of work and careers.
Over the last 20 years Lynda has written extensively about the interface between people and organisations. Her eight books cover the link between business and HR strategy (Living Strategy), the new ways of working (The Democratic Enterprise), the rise of complex collaboration (Hot Spots and Glow) and the impact of a changing world on employment and work (The Shift). Her last book (100 year life) that she co-authored with Andrew Scott (Prof of Economics at London Business School) has fundamentally shaped a lot of my thinking and the choices I have made in the last few years.
Lynda’s work has been acknowledged globally - Lynda is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and has chaired the WEF Council of Leadership. She chairs the Drucker Prize panel and is on the governing body of London Business School. In 2017, Lynda was also, as the only foreigner, invited by Prime Minister Abe of Japan to join a new advisory council “Council for designing the 100-year-life society”.
Published in Jan 2020.
Nuggets from the
100 - year life
Lynda speaks about how we are moving from a 3 stage paradigm (study-work-retire) to a paradigm where we are going to be moving across these three phases in a fluid manner over our life time. She speaks about the key insights from her influential book - 100 year life – that she authored with Andrew Scott (Professor of Economics and former Deputy Dean at London Business School).
Mid-life: a double whammy
Lynda speaks about the kinds of issues that show up in mid-life. She speaks about how individuals at mid-life are grappling with two transitions – one is the mid-life itself. The other is the fundamental social change driven by technology. She speaks about how individuals in mid-life can navigate this passage of play.
From 3 stages to multiple stages
Lynda says that in the earlier paradigm, people made two transitions. Study to work and work to retire. And they made it in lock step, with the herd (peer cohort). In a multi-stage life, she says that we all make transitions at different points in time and that can be unnerving. She also speaks about the need to focus on recreation to ensure re-creation of our professional journeys.
Specialization versus Generalization (T to Pi)
Lynda speaks about how she thinks about specialization and generalization. Earlier, we would think that being a generalist but with a deep spike in a specific area would be valuable. Now value is being added more and more at the intersection of two disciplines (often one left brain heavy and the other right brain heavy). She speaks about how this trend is playing out.
Cathedrals vs Shopping malls
Lynda speaks about having a mind set for building something tangible and substantial over the long term which means something than solving for the here and now. She uses the metaphor of cathedrals versus shopping malls to make the point. She also speaks about the tension between building for the long term and staying agile as we try different pathways during transitions.
Independent producers vs Entrepreneurs
Lynda speaks about the distinction between entrepreneurship and independent producers. She speaks about people pursuing something because they enjoy it and not because they want to grow it and scale it up. She also goes on to speak about how independent producers should think about signaling.
Choosing the intensity of work
Lynda speaks about how our understanding of ageing is based on what we see with our parents but says that we might experience ageing very differently. She speaks about the need for us to think actively about how we would allocate time if we lived 100 years and urges us to take sabbaticals and breaks to recharge and rejuvenate.
The Power of Options
Lynda refers to the notion of options (as economists think about it) and speaks about the criticality of having multiple pursuits and adapt based on the waxing and waning of intensity levels of the various things we pursue. She also urges us to listen to the head and the heart when we go about making choices around careers.