This question assumes the problems related to less popular tasks that exist within the status quo will be present within the new model. However, as C21st organisations are redesigned around trust and reorientated towards serving the core work teams, the whole landscape changes. Including, what has to get done and why. When a team truly works for a shared purpose and is responsible for deciding the what and how, the kind of unpopular tasks people don’t find useful either take on a different meaning or disappear altogether.
It would be unrealistic to suggest the new model is perfect, it won’t be. But it is worth challenging the anxiety inherent in this question with the knowledge that fluid roles are part of a bigger shift, where people’s motivations are very different.
The question of popularity
Tasks are unpopular when we see them as less desirable, valuable or in conflict with our personal values. In a C21st Org, we are driven by purpose and our own ownership over how to serve that purpose. This changes people’s relationship with work almost entirely. The application of intrinsic motivation and purpose is very different to ticking off tasks we can’t see the grander purpose for - especially if we’ve been allocated them by someone else. If we have a sense of ownership or emotional investment in something, whether that’s because it’s important to us or because we have chosen it, then we have far greater interest in all the tasks, ‘unpopular’ or otherwise. The tasks may even transform from an acceptable part of progress to an exciting step forward.
“I’d rather get burned now and then than to treat my employees like snakes. My colleagues are honorable men and women, and they prove it every day by their actions in a workplace where they’re at liberty to run amok if they’re so inclined. They’re just not so inclined, that’s all. The exceptions are so rare that to clamp heavy restrictions on the whole workforce just to try to control the actions of the potential bad apples would be a colossal self-sabotage.”
Stan Richards, The Richards Group