Having recently published our Top 20 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Future of Work (August 2019), we asked a selection of our Thinkers360 global influencers about their thoughts on the future of work and what we can expect to see over the next three years.
We were particularly interested in finding out what issues they believe will be top-of-mind for C-level executives over the next three years (see Part I) and where our influencers anticipate enterprises will be in their future of work journeys in three years’ time. In Part 2 of this article, we explore the second of these two questions…
Where do you anticipate leading enterprises will be in their future of work journeys in three years’ time?
In the most forward-looking organizations, rigid hierarchies will fall away. Teams will be fluid, collaboration borderless, and AI, machine learning, and speech recognition integrated into the decision-making process. Agility and speed — the ability to respond quickly to market disruptions and opportunities — will be king. Top talent will be drawn to companies that offer personal growth opportunities, where diversity is a core strength, and ethics align with business practices and workplace culture. Rather than just replace people, machines will take over rote tasks, thereby freeing and empowering workers. Human skills like creativity, empathy, and communication will reign supreme.
– Kevin Delaney, Executive Editor, CISCO Inc.
The next level of human-machine interaction will become reality within the next 3-5 years. The good news is that more jobs will be added despite the increasing level of machine intelligence and automation (58M according to the World Economic Forum until 2022). Enterprises will create a world where AI augments humanity.
– Marcell Vollmer, Chief Innovation Officer, Celonis
It used to be that three years was a short time horizon, but in this fast-paced technological world with the increasing use of AI, time horizons are getting shorter.
Leading enterprises will be leveraging more flexible working, they will have integrated coaching at all levels of the organization to help draw out new ideas, facilitate speedier decision making and create more cohesive and adaptable teams.
Leading organizations know already that creating a great working culture leads to better customer experience. They won’t stand still in building a culture. Instead, they will continue to focus on making the culture ever more positive and supportive of employees.
– Ruth Pearce, Project Motivator/Coach/Author at ALLE LLC
Time of major change, like the one we are experiencing today, divide players into thinkers and outthinkers. Thinkers hold on to past paradigms and begin to fall behind. Outthinkers inject outside thinking – thinking beyond the current domain – and thereby adapt their behavior. I think we will see the same unfold over the next three years. Certain enterprises will “get” the need to experiment with new organizational forms (internal marketplaces, communities, democracies, etc.), they will shift their behaviors, their success will start becoming evident. But it will take more than three years for the success of these new approaches to challenge industry dogma. Maybe in five years, when the divide between thinkiners and outthinkers, we will start seeing enterprises more broadly taking note.
– Kaihan Krippendorff, Founder, CEO, Outthinker Strategy Network
People tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and underestimate what can be done in 5-10 years. There are many wild cards at play here and it’s impossible to predict exactly how things will change with the convergence of emerging technologies, a globally connected world, changing demographics, and changes in consumer and employee expectations.
But there are two things I can say for certain.
First, preparing for dynamic change is critical. It’s coming whether you like it or not; you might as well brace yourself for it. Second, waiting to address change until it’s at your metaphorical “doorstep” is a disaster waiting to happen. You need to be consistently years ahead of any pending change.
Unfortunately, these statements are never taken seriously. Organizations wait too long and focus on all the wrong things when coming to change preparedness: systems, processes, and procedures. What really needs to be addressed is mindset.
Few recognize that without a collective mindset for change targeted towards individuals, best efforts to change will fail. Over 90% percent of senior leaders fear their organizations do not have the capacity to steer toward opportunities and away from threats.
Preparing for change can be complicated, especially in the context of a large organization. The markets are always in flux, and when a new technology or system rolls around…
…industries are thrown on their head and companies scramble to figure everything out. Sometimes, these companies scramble themselves into devastation. Why? Because their change preparedness systems were either lacking or nonexistent.
– Laura Goodrich, Co-Founder, GWT Next
The big issue won’t dawn on them until it is too late, but it is this: what is my role as a leader, what value do I actually create? The future of work is about broadly scaled proposition building in startup-like cultures that know the digital world. Some companies like Unilever get this, but many are stuck on today’s franchise or rent – they don’t know how wide their adjacencies need to be.
– Haydn Shaughnessy, Founder, Flow Academy
Three years from now I believe that organizations will look totally different. They will be more decentralized, more robotic and much smaller than organizations today. They will be more connected via networks of technology. Profit per employee will be a metric used to measure growth. They will be designed for uncertainty, ambiguity and move much faster. Employees will be expected to be more intrapreneurial. It will be an exciting time in which all will have to be comfortable being uncomfortable because change and transformation will be the norm.
– Terence Jackson, Ph.D., Chief Effectiveness Office/COO at JCG Consulting Group LLC
Leading enterprises will be headed in a completely new, much faster, direction in searching for superior technologies that can bring more quality solutions to the table and searching for human resources with highly developed skills, which I’ve just mentioned. Time and flexibility will be the most valuable resources. Only those enterprises that can adapt to immediate changes will lead the business world over the next three years.
– Catherine B. Roy, CEO and Founder at LHM International
In the next three years, companies will have to create an automation road map defining what areas will be automated first, to what extent, and how the human-machine interaction will happen. That process will make more evident both the need to go above and beyond to retain key talent and how to prepare and educate them continuously to be functional and productive. Companies will have to redefine their meritocratic systems, key performance indicators, and re-think the work contracts and deals. They will intensify the use of new models as geographically dispersed teams, remote work, internal-external hybrid teams, collective thinking, and micro-consultants. To welcome all those changes and stay productive, companies will use a plethora of HR tech solutions. They will help manage, develop, nurture, and support high performing teams.
– Cesar Keller, CEO, WORKPLACE21
The true leaders will look make substantive changes to the workplace. A recently released report conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030 in the U.S. alone. While this isn’t a pressing issue now, nor is it likely to be in the next three years, it is a huge problem, because robots and AI don’t buy goods and services. Companies who are most creative (for example two 3 day weeks instead of one 5 day work week without a corresponding pay cut) will do what it takes to ensure they are able to make a profit while preserving the consumer class.
– Phil La Duke, Principle Consultant at Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
In three-years time, enterprises should strive to have robust data science departments that will influence everything from product design and manufacturing, to marketing, hiring, customer service and more.
– Robin Farmanfarmaian, Professional Speaker & Entrepreneur; CEO & Co-Founder at ArO
The world is moving at an exceptional pace and that is going to be faster in coming future as technology is ongoing to evolve at a very high speed as well. Most of the organizations are either at the beginning óf their journey or have nor started with the right strategic approaches for the future of work. Significant progress is expected, as the opportunities in the world of work are enormous going forward.
– Soumyasanto Sen, HR Technology & People Analytics Leader and Advisor | Strategist Future of Work | Keynote Speaker & Writer at People Conscience
Leading enterprises will focus on greatly enhancing individual and small team future of work experiences — from each individual’s perspective, not just the organization’s. The future of work journeys will be deeply personal, and highly transformative — one person at a time.
– Bill Jensen, CEO, The Jensen Group
Overall we’ll be disappointed by what we expected to happen, and didn’t, but equally delighted by what we didn’t expect to happen, and has. In three years most leading enterprises will have passed the tipping point of whether to use data and advanced analytics to gain insight into their processes, workforce management and customer engagement especially due to the impact of 5G. This will impact on the nature, culture and structure of leading organisations and as a result we’ll see them breaking away from the pack in terms of customer service and profitability. Although there’ll still be a lot of hype about AI, we’ll mainly just see new digital ‘analytically -infused’ processes which not only affect the nature of work but also of the workforce so there’ll be some big transformation, training and recruitment issues to look forward to.
– Tony Boobier, Owner & Chief Executive, Boobier Consulting
The progress on the future of work initiatives in three years will vary from sector to sector, especially, due to the fluctuating levels of the ‘nagging effect’ of the disruptive influencers. Generally, leading enterprises with a bullish agenda will significantly refine/redefine organizational structures/meanings, aggressively revamp/reengineer work processes to robustly align with strategic imperatives by weeding out underperforming functions with AI-driven solutions and achieve a visibly leaner and a highly capable workforce with a proliferation of hybrid skills.
– Murad S. Mirza, Innovative Thought Leader, Multiple Global Publications
Leading enterprises will find a hard time converting to the lean, agile and flexible organizations which will be required. Some will eventually fail to do so and will be selected out, others will have to radically transform themselves and their workforce. Dis-assembling organizations to make them more akin to markets will be difficult and painful, but those who will be more rapid will gain an incredible advantage and develop themselves into massive, living platform for future products and services.
– Luca Solari, Professor, University of Milan
As is always the case, the best organizations will be some way ahead of the rest. They will have aligned the wants and needs of employees behind a clear purpose for the business that not only ensures they’re profitable, but making a positive impact on their immediate and wider community. They’ll be the ones encouraging and supporting their employees not just while they’re at work but throughout their life. It’s a cliche to say your people are your most valuable asset, but the best companies will really mean that and invest in them rather than sweat them until they drop.
– Adi Gaskell, Innovation thinker, writer and consultant
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