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Eve of Disruption - Future of Work (Part 3)

Hand using futuristic virtual reality headset

Have you really thought about, what the transition of the Future of Work (FOW) looks like, in your organization?

In mid 2017, I wrote about the future of work in terms of People and at the macro level as an eco-system. I wanted people to start thinking about the human element of organizations, up-skilling/retraining employees (I didn't coin that word), millennial mentality affecting the ways of working, deteriorating trust in the workplace, and even the definition of what is "work." The Future of Work was still an underground topic that many of my network had started talking about in 2010. In 2017, I thought it was becoming a bigger topic in the media but its almost 4 years later that its really starting to build momentum (like any big disruption).

Last night, How Women Lead (HWL) hosted another phenomenal event: "How Dynamic Women Leaders Advance Future Initiatives." A very vibrant and engaging conversation about the FOW, the role of women and what does the transition look like. What amazed me as usual is the connection and warmth that happens as you walk in the door of a HWL event. The deep conversations and connections started much before the official program began. Considering that almost 50% of the room was attending a HWL event for the first time, it gives testament to the quality and engagement of the ladies who comes to these events.

We started the program with an introduction by Teena Bhatia, thanking our hosts Arnold & Porter for sharing their beautiful offices. It's critical that we understand that our physical environment affects the conversations we have and each time I have come to the Arnold & Porter offices it helps me visualize the future and creates an intangible trust factor that allows us all to speak openly and candidly to build our relationships. I love that HWL starts every meeting with a reminder of the How Women Lead Credo.

1. Be fierce advocates for each other

2. Say Yes to helping each other

3. Reinforce your voice

4. Be unabashedly visible

Marianne Jackson, a C-Suite coach and strategic consultant, kicked us off to a riveting (and too short) conversation in regards to how we look at the FOW. We know that work is affected by technology and with purpose we need to have our eyes wide open to understand the opportunities and the unintended consequences all of this will have. Some effects that are already weighing on us include tech and social anxiety, a wealth gap and even learning how to transition from a way of being, to a new world order. The changes are happening in society, government, economy, technology and the environment. Work sits in the middle of all of this. So how do we manage through it, what does this mean for us and our organizations, what can we do and what does the transition look like?

Subha Rajana, CEO, Biarca is a technologist - an optimistic technologist. With us moving into industry 4.0 she believes that technology will better our lives. We need to help people be digital ready by leaders creating environments of trust and up-skilling and retraining our current employees.

Sunita Shenoy, Director, Strategic Planning, IOT, Intel took it further to give us a history lesson that every 100 years we see a shift. 1.0 (coal mining changed, 2.0 (electrification), 3.0 (computing) and now industry 4.0 is about the digital paradigm of technology (simplified). She also brought up a few points we all need to think about personally. She mentioned being nice to yourself and understanding we are not super-humans (though we all like to dream we are). Asking for help is not a bad thing and sometimes that helps us do better. From a macro perspective she mentioned that we need to accelerate D&I in our organizations but not from a demographic perspective but diversity of thought (which I define as cognitive diversity).

Our third panelist, Nancy Hauge, related the journey that millenials have gone through in their lives and why its different than Gen-X and Boomers and how they are bringing a mindset of the human element, fear of not knowing how long they will be around due to the "violence" they say growing up (gulf war, 9/11 attacks on our own soil here in the US, gun violence in schools etc). When they come to the work place, they do have intellectual and emotional experience, they have grown up on social media and have had access to information at their fingertips, they care about relationships differently and want to experience those relationships now, not in the unknown future. Nancy's workforce is made up of 30% BOTS and she is comfortable with it. She believes that RPA and automation will help enhance our lives by allowing humans to move away from the mundane work that can be done by BOTS / automation and elevate our thinking, our creativity to create a new world for us. As we continue to live longer, this will allow us to unlock a part of our human side that has been dormant for a while.

As we ebbed and flowed through the discussion a few examples of what companies have done successfully gave us tangible ideas and programs to use as a starting point. Europe is doing much better than the US by implementing job apprenticeships in the manufacturing industry to help train individuals. Another example is where, Ebay had created an internal platform that mirrored the external gig economy. It allowed employees to bid and match their skills, passions and experiences to working on projects that they could be engaged with and make an impact. Rather than a manager finding you to work, employees were empowered to take a part of their time or even all of their time to work on projects that fulfilled them as individuals. I work with a lot of clients who are still trying to understand who they are and how they can find roles that truly fulfill and engage them long term. A platform like this would be valuable in the outside world too!!

I love my individuality and struggled in the corporate world to find leaders who could harness it to the betterment of the company. It's one of the many reasons I left the corporate world. One of the panelists spoke about this and made a great observation that people may want different things when they come to work. They are individuals and they have different motivations, ways of working, ways of thinking, learning styles, cultural perspectives etc. With technology why do we still create standardized programs. Why can't we come up with programs that move with the individual at their pace - keeping them engaged, trained and motivated to stay in our organization. How do we build this and implement this?

I see many leaders, not understand the difference between delegation and empowerment. To see change in your organization you need to empower your people and that starts with trust - facilitating conversations, coaching your people, knowing your teams and individuals motivations and what matters to them is key.

As time goes on the leadership models will change. The FOW is just starting to bubble up to the surface and the change will happen faster than we can manage through it and process it. So as was said at the beginning, let's go in with our eyes wide open and understand the benefits and unintended consequences. Our current organizations are vertical but our problems are horizontal. We need to shift our perspectives and minds to be able to find the solutions to that. To help you make some mind-shifts, here are a few thoughts our panelists left us with.

- Be open to the probabilities and opportunities that exist out there

- Be an optimist

- Be curious and a constant learner

- Be open to adopting to change and be the changemaker if need be (be the change you want to see)

- Speak your mind by being collected and providing the data and then be ok with the consequences or opportunity that presents itself

The FOW is in many ways still an intangible topic within corporations because its not just an HR function. It is something that permeates the culture, the individuals, the processes and every part of a company. Add on to that all the paradigm shifts happening outside the business. Makes your head swim!

How do you see the transition happening in your organization and

how will you manage through it?

Eve of Disruption – A series depicting what the future fabric of our society could look like and ideas that could propel your company forward. There is a changing paradigm in how we live, work and play. Are you and your organization moving with the times and adapting to the massive and rapid changes happening right now? The Eve of Disruption looks at ideas that could be 5 – 10 years in the future but most likely will happen in the blink of an eye.

Contact Urvi B, CEO | Executive Coach, for a free consultation to see how she could infuse the innovation mindset and bring cognitive diversity into your organization, through innovation programs and/or speaking to help you move to the future. #jointhejourney #cognitivediversity #eveofdisruption


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