Co-creating Our Future with Robots

This is a guest blog by Susan Harper as a companion to the Voice America interview with Dale Meyerrose, PhD, Redefining the Workforce: When Robots Pay Union Dues and Learn Too

 

Many of us have seen the futuristic movies so popular in our culture for decades like Star Wars, Star Trek, even the time traveling series Back to the Future.  In Back to the Future II, made in 1985, they predict what they believe the advances of technology will be in 30 years.  That was 2015 and is now 4 years in our rearview mirror.  Some advances we still haven’t managed, like the levitating car, but some we have so far outpaced that the movie producers never could have imagined the advances we have made in technology, such as the capabilities of the smart phone.

How do we harness that technology to reinvent our workforce and make our companies that much more efficient?  RPAs, Robotic Process Automation, give leaders the opportunity to approach their work force and identify the tedious tasks and then work to remove those tasks from their human work force and automate it.  This frees up the human work force to do the complex and meaningful work.

What does this look like? The challenge for leaders is to identify the highly cognitive and highly valued tasks that humans need to do and allowing technology to be used as a solution that can make up for gaps in the human workforce.

 

The benefits of implementing RPAs to complete work force tasks include:

  • they can work 24×7—continually perform without taking a rest,
  • they can be taught a myriad of tasks,
  • they can always be on call,
  • they work faster, longer, and make less errors than people on routine,
  • repetitive tasks and every action can be fully audited.

 

While implementing the RPAs leaders need to be mindful of the human workforce who are fearful of these digital workers.  Often human work force will believe that they’ll be replaced and lose their job, they are fearful of having to train and upskill in order to remain employable, they don’t understand how to leverage the bots and have a reluctance to learn.

 

How is this technology already being employed in our companies?  One of the biggest sectors is in the financial industry.  Credit card companies would never be able to use humans to process the millions of transactions that occur each day.  The RPAs are trained to look for inconsistencies in the charges and flag them for things like location, amount, or unusual patterns.

Another large sector utilizing the RPA technology is the health care industry.  They are being used in almost every aspect of the patient’s care. RPAs begin by assisting in scheduling appointments.  They can assist in finding treatments once a doctor has made a diagnosis.  They can ensure a schedule for a treatment plan is closely followed by setting up future appointments.  They are involved in the claims and billing process.  They can direct patient questions to the appropriate person.  They can manage and forward patient records.  This automation of tasks frees up the medical staff to do the tasks that require a human intervention.

The age of automation is here and how our companies use these technologies and innovate their businesses will determine the success of their businesses.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

 

 

Relax. It’s Not a Problem with Your Virtual Team

This blog is provided by Jean Brittain Leslie as a companion to her interview for Voice America. This interview, Improving Virtual Team Success by Focusing on Paradox airs on 4/30/19.

A lot goes unresolved in virtual teamwork: issues that would take a few minutes to address in person end up wasting hours of time due to miscommunications; individuals hammer away at their tasks, while team bonding stagnates; you struggle with continued technological glitches and wonder if connectivity issues are really a sign team members lack engagement.

The bad news is that there are no solutions to these problems.

The good news is that these aren’t problems. These are polarities.

Unlike a problem, a polarity is ongoing, unsolvable, and contains a pair that need each other—neither is sufficient alone. In the example above, virtual teams need to be both task-focused and relationship-oriented. It’s easy to say these alternatives are in opposition to each other, but in truth, they’re complementary and interdependent. The trick isn’t solving a polarity (that’s problem-speak sneaking back in); the trick is recognizing the polarity for what it is and leveraging it effectively.

Recent research by the Center for Creative Leadership with 140 virtual teams from 56 organizations showed leveraged polarities are positively associated with virtual team effectiveness. What this means (back to our example) is that teams that were able to have sufficient focus on the tasks of the team and focus on building relationships to facilitate working together as a team have higher levels of performance, commitment, satisfaction and informal learning.

Here are a few common examples of virtual team polarities:

  • Verify & Trust
  • Advocacy & Inquiry
  • Formal Communication & Informal Communication
  • Unified Team & Diverse Individuals
  • Create New Processes & Use Existing Processes

Again, you might feel the urge to replace the ampersand with “versus,” but resist. Each of these pairs are needed in order to thrive. The goal isn’t for each pair to battle until the winner emerges. However, the pair may not always be in balance. There will be times when a given pair must take priority over its counterpart.

Central to effective virtual team leadership is the ability to leverage polarities, and the first step is to identify them. Here are a few questions to ask when trying to determine if you’re facing a problem or a polarity:

  • Is it ongoing?
  • Are there two alternatives? Does your success depend on the alternatives?
  • Can you only focus on one alternative for so long before needing to focus on the other?

If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, you’ve identified a polarity. If you answer “no” to any of the above, you probably have a good old-fashioned problem on your hands. If the latter, don’t worry, it’s solvable.  If the former, just keep telling yourself, “this is not a problem.”

To learn more about polarities, please visit the blog and radio show posted by Barry Johnson Balancing Competing Perspectives: Some Challenges Require Solutions and Others Balance.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Jean Brittain Leslie is senior fellow and director of Strategic Initiatives in Research, Innovation, and Product Development at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®). With 26 years of experience working at CCL, Jean has made numerous contributions in the areas of research, publication, product development, and training. She has published more than 90 pieces on leadership, assessment, and feedback—in the form of peer-reviewed and popular-press articles, book chapters, and books. Jean also has presented over 50 papers at professional conferences such as the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologists.

Democracy and Leadership Require Accurate Information: What You Need To Know To Keep Up In Today’s World

This guest blog is a companion to the Voice America interview: Democracy on the Run: How Strong and Capable Leaders Can Impact Listen Now. The interview was recorded as part of the International Leadership Association conference series. The blog is reproduced and shared with permission by mastersincommunication.org.

 

Leaders and citizens need accurate and unbiased information to act responsibly. As citizens, we must develop an understanding of events unfolding in our environment and determine how we will engage. Voting is obviously one major action that requires comprehensive and unbiased information.

 

By the same note, leaders, those responsible for setting their organizational course, revising direction and engaging with employees to drive toward results must have accurate, complete and unbiased information.

 

In an era where leaders have access to more information, it has become harder to know where to look to find accurate, complete and unbiased information. For this, we must turn to the field of journalism and we must take responsibility for being well informed. The people we lead, and all of our stakeholders rely on us to make well informed decisions.

 

The information we need comes from journalists!

 

Today’s journalism is a far cry from what it used to be. In the past, you received the majority of your news and information from your local newspaper published every morning.

If you didn’t get it there, you watched the evening news after dinner. Add in a few national newspapers, and that was it.

Today, relying on only one source to receive all of your news and information seems unheard of. Newspapers are still around today, but we have so much more to go along with them. We don’t have to wait an entire day for our news anymore – we wait mere seconds.

Now we see the news as it’s happening instead of getting recaps of it the next day. With the rise of the internet and the 24/7 news station, we have an abundance of news sources directly at our fingertips.

Journalism as a whole has changed in response. Instead of having time to fact check, journalists are urged to be the first to break the story. This rush to first often leads to misinformation being published, causing confusing and sometimes outrage.

What used to be a cardinal sin is now less of an issue because being the first to hit publish is such a priority.

Let’s take a look at what journalism is today, and some of the people changing it.

What Really Is Journalism?

 

Journalism is the act of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities.

Journalism is the product of every newspaper you read, every news station you watch, and every news article you read online.

Journalism is meant to place the public good above all else and uses specific methods to gather and assess information. In other words, journalism is meant to benefit the people, and journalists should routinely check what they’re reporting on to be sure the information is verified and accurate.

 

Why Data Journalism Matters More Than Ever

 

Another side effect of the internet and the amount of data at our fingertips is the rise of data journalism. Data journalism is the use of data and number crunching to uncover, better explain, or provide context to a news story.

 

Data can be the tool used to tell a story, the source upon which a story is based, or both at the same time. It often involves the use of statistics, charts, and infographics.

 

Data journalism has become important because, in today’s world, anyone with a smartphone and social media account can be a journalist. Multiple sources add information over social media, blogs, and videos as the news story is happening. It’s an information overload, and opinion often clouds facts.

 

The goal of data journalism is to be the one who provides context to an event and aims to explain what it really means.

 

An excellent example of data journalism is a story ProPublica published about animal extinction across the globe. Using data from recent biology studies, they found that today’s extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

 

Journalism In The Age of the Open Web

 

At the risk of beating a dead horse, the open web has changed everything. The way we consume data will never be the same.

Data used to come in a fixed, complete form. Books, newspapers, and documentaries. When you received it, it was finished and in its final form.

With digital news in the open web, your news source is almost a living, breathing thing. It is always changing, always evolving, and continuously being developed. That blog post you just read could be edited and revised several times over.

There is information everywhere that people consume anytime they want. They don’t need to go to the store to buy a book or a newspaper anymore. All they have to do is reach into their pocket and enter a quick Google search, and they’ll discover a wealth of knowledge on the subject.

Today’s journalists face a new set of challenges. They’re no longer the runaway experts in the fields they write in. Today, their readers may be smarter, and better informed than they are.

Now if you don’t listen to them, work with them, work for them, give them what they want and need, they’ll go somewhere else. And there are plenty of other places they can go.

 

What Journalism Is Missing Today

 

Even with the rise of the internet, 24/7 news stations, social media, and smartphones, something is missing from today’s journalism.

We’re more connected to the news that we’ve ever been. News companies have journalists working around the clock that can push us a story as it happens, no matter when it happens.

We’re more informed than we’ve ever been, and we have limitless choices of where we want to consume our news. So, what are we missing? The answer is simple.

Time.

The one thing journalists don’t have on their side anymore is time. They have to be first. They have to be fast. They don’t have time anymore to become deeply engrossed in their stories. They don’t have time to learn and ponder on their stories. They rely on quotes from other experts to shape their stories.

True investigative journalism is an art that is slowly fading. One of the main reasons is the money isn’t there for it anymore. Doing a real investigative piece takes a lot of time, which in turn takes a lot of money.

The ad revenue they’d earn for the story would likely be a small fraction of what it cost to produce it. Because of this, investigative journalism is being replaced by 5-10 blog posts a day that will never have as much substance as an actual investigative piece.

 

Battling Fake News

 

Something else that has come with the age of the internet is the rise of “fake news.” Anyone with a computer and internet access has the ability to make their own website and write news stories. However, not everyone is an educated journalist.

 

Your neighbor down the street that starts his own blog isn’t going to follow the same standards that the mainstream journalists follow. I mentioned earlier that journalism is meant to put the public good over everything else. That’s not always the case with the hundreds of blogs that pop up daily.

 

Most people that start those blogs are worried about pushing their own agenda and voicing their opinion. They only use facts that support their cause and ignore the rest.

 

Then they call everything that doesn’t support their opinion or push their cause fake news. When in reality, fake news is everything that isn’t based on fact and data.

 

Anyone can post their opinion, but not everyone can be a journalist. So when the news is so saturated by blogs and websites only worried about what fits in their narrative, how do we know who to trust? How do we separate fact from fiction?

 

We must keep an eye on the source. We need to be sure that the website or blog, or even Twitter account, that we’re getting our news from is only reporting facts without the bias of their opinion.

 

Here is a list of a few large journalism brands that report real facts, not alternative facts.

 

  • The New York Times – Some consider the New York Times the most influential publication around. The NYT upholds ethical standards of reporting and includes the classic elements of journalism in America.

 

  • The Wall Street Journal – The Wall Street Journal is the largest circulated newspaper in the US. The WSJ is still the top brand among daily business publications in the entire world. It has won several Pulitzer Prizes for editorials and columns that are backed up by thorough fact-based reporting and bold arguments.

 

  • The Washington Post – The Washington Post is the paper that brought down Nixon during the Watergate Scandal, and it upholds it’s intellectual traditions today. Under the ownership of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Post is perhaps the most forward-thinking publication of the day while winning Pulitzer Prizes, hiring the best and brightest reporters and producing big scoops.

The Need to Support Journalism

Even with all the fake news and alternative facts that run rampant today, journalism is still critical for ours, and any democracy in the world. We can’t let the bad apples tarnish our opinions of the journalists with integrity that report facts and information.

 

The most important function of journalism is to convey information. This is a critical part of the democratic decision-making system because it brings transparency and makes sure that the decisions being made reflect what the people really want.

 

When people claim that the media is the enemy, they are doing a disservice not only to the real journalists but to the people in their society. Without a free press, the line between fact and fiction will be blurred, opening up a Pandora’s box of problems.

 

While there are problems that need to be fixed, journalism at its core is desperately needed.

We Live In A New World

 

We’re no longer dependent on a single news source anymore. We have more information available to us than ever before. The freedom we have to access and share news is a fantastic thing, but it also comes with great responsibility.

Our access to data and news sources from around the globe is absolutely incredible. The amount of good we can create due to the open web can change the world.

But it can also cause hate and divide entire nations. Anyone can post their opinion and call it fact. They can disregard fact and call it fake news. The potential for hostility is just as high as the potential for good.

Journalism isn’t the issue. Journalism at its core is the process of spreading news and information. We have to protect journalism and instead go after the entities perverting it.

 

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Leadership Trends to Watch for 2019 and Beyond

With 2018 coming to a close, many of us are looking to 2019 and beyond. This article was originally published on Forbes.com in August 2018 summarizing the trends that emerged from the last 100 interviews conducted on Voice America Radio, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview series.  It is the companion to an interview between Christopher Washington, PhD and Maureen Metcalf Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and beyond.

I host a weekly radio show that helps leaders update how they lead. The interviews are with key business leaders, global leaders, thought leaders, authors and academics. Each year, I publish the main themes we discuss on the show as well as in my consulting work with senior executives around the world.

I have now completed more than 150 interviews, and volatility was a recurring theme. This article is a synthesis of what we can take away as key factors for leaders and executives to focus on for the next four years.

1. Leaders must pay attention to trends and predictions.

As the rate of change accelerates, if you take a “wait and see” stance, you will be caught unprepared. The intersection of volatility, changes in technology and global interconnection means there are threats and opportunities on all fronts and a large pool of organizations poised to leverage both. Speed continues to matter.

2. Leaders and their organizations are becoming agiler.

A McKinsey survey of more than 2,500 organizations of different sizes, specialties and regions reported that “37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations, and another 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations. The shift is driven by proof that small, multidisciplinary teams of agile organizations can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing market opportunities and customer demands.”

As leaders, it’s important to adopt a nimble mindset and culture. Being nimble means paying attention to trends and identifying small “experiments” you can run to keep up with or even ahead of the changes happening around you. Once you are clear about what will work for you and how it will work, pilot that change. Truly agile companies are always experimenting.

3. Organizations and their people must accelerate their pace of learning.

With an increase in agility, people and organizations will need to accelerate learning. In 1978, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Chris Argyris wrote Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. This work continues to evolve and increase in importance, as learning provides a competitive advantage.

Take, for example, how organizations are automating more work. Employees who continue to learn and update their skills will be able to find new roles, while others who are not continually learning will be left unemployed or underemployed as their roles diminish.

4. Age range in the workforce will continue to expand.

As life expectancy continues to increase, many people will want to and need to work longer. Organizations will need to find ways to attract and engage older workers. They will also need to address the dynamics created when multiple generations of employees are working together on the same team.

With the decrease of age-based seniority, leadership will be taken by the best person for the role and will likely shift frequently in an agile environment. Organizations need to be creative in promoting engagement and teamwork across multiple generations.

5. Leaders need to identify and build talent at an increasing rate.

As technology evolves and organizations change more quickly, employees need to learn faster, and organizations need to identify workers to fill changing talent needs. Some of these needs will fall in the technology space, but not all.

We referenced older employees remaining in the workforce and returning. We also need to find ways to engage talent who have been previously overlooked. This could mean people leaving incarceration, people with disabilities who would, in fact, be great fits for certain roles, or adults who work from home because they are caregivers to their children or parents, to name a few.

6. Employee engagement will continue to be important in volatile times.

The importance of human interaction will continue to increase even as more of the workforce is working remotely – many rarely, if ever, meeting their colleagues. Leaders and organizations need to focus on soft skills such as emotional intelligence that have a strong impact on engagement and the effort employees put into communicating.

7. Communities must come together to solve quality-of-life and economic issues.

With the level of change, segments of the economy can easily be excluded from the workforce. The gap between economic haves (those with education, access and resources) and have-nots can increase, and the cost can be significant for the individuals, families and businesses impacted by a worker shortage.

Successful regions create organizations to tackle these challenges. This means organizations that traditionally compete for resources and clients also need to work together to solve challenges that impact them.

8. Effective leaders are conscious of their impact across a broad range of factors and stakeholders.

As we talk about conscious capitalism, the main idea is that “conscious” organizations tend to the health of a broad range of stakeholders. It becomes increasingly important to pay attention to the needs of competing stakeholders and balance these demands. Conscious capitalism is one mechanism that helps leaders explore the broader range of stakeholders and understand their drivers.

Business is getting more complicated and requires leaders to continually update their skills as well as their mindset and focus. This article summarizes some of my key learnings.

As a leader, are you seeing similar trends? What’s missing? What are you doing to prepare yourself and your organization to succeed during the next four years?

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of Metcalf & Associates is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, coach and consultant.

The Position Success Indicator (PSI): Your Job Fit Solution for the Future of Work

This blog is a guest post by Mark Palmer as a companion to the November, 13 Voice America show interview with Mr. Palmer, Managing Partner, Hire-Directions and Principal, Innovative Leadership Institute. The interview focuses on the Position Success Indicator assessment to help hone find where they fit professionally. 

THE FUTURE OF WORK IS HERE

The future of work is already here: the gig economy, automation, and artificial intelligence. These trends are part of a growing narrative that suggest an increasingly complex and unpredictable workforce.

Studies indicate that by 2025, the global population will reach nearly 10 billion people, with only 15% of that population living and working in high-income economies. In fact, according to a recent Oxford Study, it’s predicted that 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years.

NEW PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGES ARE COMING…ARE YOU READY?

Workforce disruptions already force you to make employment decisions faster, smarter, and more often than any previous generation of professionals. Consequently, the coming era of work will produce thrivers, strivers, and survivors.

To thrive in this future workforce—and to navigate new realities while staying authentic to your dreams and interests—you will need a better way to prepare, respond, and adapt to a constant stream of occupational change.

YOU WILL NEED OCCUPATIONAL FITNESS

Two-thirds of your adult waking life will be spent creating and maintaining a livelihood. Your ability to make quality professional decisions, quickly and consistently, is more critical than ever.

This ability to adapt and intelligently respond to new professional situations will require occupational fitness: the capacity to quickly identify the right opportunities, communicate how you add value, and consistently choose ventures that align with your strengths and competencies.

BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY: “TALENT DNA” TESTING

“Quantified self”, or life-logging technology, has transformed the way we maximize physical fitness. If you’ve used an activity tracker or a DNA kit, you’re already familiar with how “quantified self” can be used to improve wellness goals.

Using a new breakthrough called “talent DNA” sequencing, this “quantified self” technology can now be applied to support professional wellness, too. It builds on current life-logging advancements to accelerate occupational fitness, and can be used to enhance job matching and career mapping.

POSITION SUCCESS INDICATOR (PSI): GET YOUR UNIQUE TALENT CODE

Every person has a unique “talent DNA” code, or occupational talent signature made of [32] quantifiable performance markers. These markers correlate with specific job requirements used by organizations to build roles.

The Position Success Indicator (PSI) reveals key professional knowledge—based on your exclusive “talent DNA”—that can be used to match you to the right jobs, build resumes, setup interview strategies, uncover career advancement opportunities, and enhance your networking capability.

We encourage you to take the PSI assessment. You get free overview results and can purchase more detailed report. You can use the results of your report to take the actions recommended below and also use them when you listen to the interview with Mark.

PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS PLANS: PUT YOUR PSI RESULTS TO WORK

PSI reveals how you ideally fit an organization’s goals, team projects, and job requirements. You get precise, custom language needed to communicate YOUR unique value in ways that will speak to executives, clients, and venture partners.

Once you take the free assessment, maximize your results—combined with the Professional and Interview Success Plans—in two (2) simple steps:

STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR FIT

Use the plans to identify your operational strengths and fit with common organizational goals, projects, and job roles:

  1. Trace your universal job fit using the world’s only position requirements blueprint used to design ALL jobs (Professional Success Plan, Alignment Plan)
  2. Locate your operational impact points (Alignment Plan highlighted strengths)
  3. Identify your high level fit – best fit with organization needs (Professional Success Plan, Org Fit Map)
  4. Identify your detailed level fit – best fit with specific job functions (Professional Success Plan, Alignment Plan, Jobs Matrix, Requirements Insert)
  5. Pinpoint your “thrive zones” – fit with key performance objectives, where you will be most successful in jobs and career development (and understand where you WON’T)

STEP 2:  COMMUNICATE YOUR VALUE

Utilize the free results and plans to enhance your professional CV, resume, social media, and live interactions:

  • Use the Professional Summary (your free professional brand statement):
    • as an opening for professional social media, CV, and resume descriptions
    • to create a 30-second networking “pitch” (don’t just network, FIT-work!)
    • as a companion to your custom interviewing strategy (Interview Success Plan)
  • Use the Requirements Insert in the Professional Success Plan to summarize your value (your strengths converted to an organizational grade “job description”):
    • submit this insert with your resume, and stand out in interviews and job fairs
    • use with recruiters and hiring managers to assess fit for new jobs or performance reviews
    • use in cover letter style emails used in conjunction with job applications
    • get the right wording to communicate with executives or project stakeholders to articulate where you fit and add value

WORKFORCE TALENT GENOME PROJECT:  BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER

Our talent coding technology gives you the opportunity to personally make a difference in improving the future workforce by participating in a new kind of research—online, from anywhere.

By taking PSI, you are contributing your unique “talent DNA”, thereby helping to build the world’s first generation talent genome library.

This global “talent DNA” data repository will be used to enhance future workforce readiness, and to improve job design, job matching and recruiting. It will also optimize merit-based diversity, and protect workers everywhere from displacements caused by increasing job and market disruptions.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the

Mark Palmer is co-creator of the Position Success Indicator; The Job Fit Calculator; and LaborGenome™ Talent Mapping technology.

He is co-author of the Innovative Leader Fieldbook, and senior editor for the Innovative Leadership Guide to Transforming Organizations. Mark is also a consultant, and Principal and Advisor with the Innovative Leadership Institute., a management consulting firm offering progressive leadership development, team building and organizational effectiveness. He was also a TEDx OSU Speaker in 2012.

What Does the Future of Work Look Like?

This blog is a guest post by Anna Kucirkova as a companion to the October 30 Voice America show with K R Ravi, CEO and Co-founder of Metcalf – Innovative Leadership Institute India. The interview focuses on Enterprise-Wide Success As A Result of Talent Development and the ATD BEST Award

When this country began, our hunter-gatherer, farming ancestors worked to live. Not a single iota of energy was wasted in a day. Wasted time equaled starvation.

In this new century, our country is working from the fruits of the industrial revolution, the robotics revolution, and the technology revolution.

Just as our ancestors might have wondered what the future held in working, we are living their future and wondering about our own.

What exactly does the future of work look like?

The Fluctuating Current Work Environment

The worlds of industry, commerce, healthcare, education, and many others are fluctuating, which is causing considerable anxiety. Labor-market opportunities between high- and low-skill jobs, unemployment and underemployment, stagnating incomes for a large proportion of households, and income inequality demonstrate that the job market is already trending toward the future.

Automation and artificial intelligence promise higher productivity, economic growth, increased efficiency, job safety, and convenience. But these technologies also have a broader impact on jobs, wages, skills, and the nature of work itself.

Lots of tasks that workers handle today could be automated. Simultaneously, job-searching sites like LinkedIn and Monster are altering and increasing the ways people look for work and how companies recruit talent. Freelance work has become very enticing with digital platforms like Uber, Upwork, and Etsy making working for yourself much easier.

Another newer trend, especially in tech companies, is remote and virtual employees. This not only allows things to get done around the clock, without commuting, but also provides companies with employees who have hard-to-find skill sets and is a way to accommodate employees who don’t want to move to work for the company.

These shifts in how jobs are done as well as how talent is recruited create both uncertainty and benefits. One of the biggest questions is what role automation will play.

Automation Is Coming

Through current technology, about half the tasks people are paid to do could hypothetically be automated. It is encouraging to note that less than 5 percent of all jobs consist of tasks that could be completely automated.

But, in about 60% of professions, at least a third of the tasks could be automated, which could lead to workplace transformations and redefinition of job duties for workers. Taking a look at current technology and estimating how quickly automation could replace human workers, only about 30% of hours worked globally could be automated in the next decade.

The impact of automation on employment depends greatly on occupation and job title. Automation jobs would most likely include physical ones in predictable surroundings, like making fast food or operating factory machinery. Data collection and data processing are two other jobs that have the potential to be done better and faster with machines. This particular AI innovation could displace hundreds of workers in mortgage origination, accounting, paralegal work, and back-office transaction processing.

There are, of course, jobs that absolutely require human labor forces, such as management, scientific research, and customer service. So, will the displaced workers have to change careers to keep a job?

What Job Sectors Will Sustain or Grow Their Numbers?

Displaced workers are easily identified, but new jobs that are created due to advancements in technology are less obvious and exist in different sectors and regions.

Experts estimate that, globally, 250 million to 280 million new jobs could be created due to rising incomes on consumer goods, with an additional 50 million to 85 million jobs created in health care and education spending.

In 2030, researchers estimate there will be at least 300 million more people aged 65 and older than in 2014. As people age, their spending on healthcare and other personal services increases, taking their consumer dollars out of retail and luxury purchases. This will increase new demand for doctors, nurses, and health technicians, as well as home-health aides, personal-care aides, and nursing assistants. There could be 50 million to 85 million new jobs in healthcare by 2030.

And let’s not forget the jobs created by the development and implementation of new technology. Spending on technology will double between 2015 and 2030. About half the spending would be on information-technology services. This could create 20 million to 50 million new jobs by 2030.

Even with substantial growth in technology and AI, there are still jobs that require human labor: architects, electricians, engineers, carpenters, and construction trades. The world is also increasing its interest in renewable energy, so there will be more jobs in renewable energy, like manufacturing, construction, and installation of new energy options.

So, it’s possible for a former auto factory worker from Detroit could be retrained quite efficiently in manufacturing for renewable energy. But, what would that training entail?

Job Training for the Future

To make sure the human labor force can accommodate newer jobs, people must be prepared to learn new skills. According to Pew, automation and AI are “taking a bite out of manufacturing; automation, robotics, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) have shown they can do equal or sometimes even better work than humans who are dermatologists, insurance claims adjusters, lawyers, seismic testers in oil fields, sports journalists and financial reporters, crew members on guided-missile destroyers, hiring managers, psychological testers, retail salespeople, and border patrol agents.”

People will not just train for the jobs of the future, they will create them, and technology is ready and waiting. Pew Research conducted extensive polls to find out what the members of the current job market see for the future:

Theme 1: The training ecosystem will evolve, with a mix of innovation in all education formats

The next decade will bring a diversified world of education and training options where various entities design and deliver services to those who want to learn. They expect that some innovation will be aimed at emphasizing the development of human talents that machines cannot match and at helping humans partner with technology.

They say some parts of the ecosystem will concentrate on delivering real-time learning to workers, often in formats that are self-taught. Also, more learning systems will go online. Workers will be expected to learn continuously. Educators have always found new ways to train the next generation of students for jobs of the future.

Theme 2: Learners must cultivate 21stcentury skills, capabilities and attributes

Will training for skills most important in the jobs of the future work well in large-scale settings in upcoming years? Improvements in education are expected to continue. But, many of the most vital skills are not easy to teach, learn or evaluate in any educational setting.

Those skills, capabilities and attributes include emotional intelligence, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, resilience and critical thinking. The skills needed to succeed in the future are curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking and empathy, skills that machines cannot yet demonstrate.

Theme 3: New credentialing systems will arise as self-directed learning expands

While the traditional college degree will still be a necessity in the near future, more employers may be willing to accept alternate credentialing systems because traditional college is becoming less popular. Online learning is the education of the future.

Employers will also begin to consider experience and skill sets over education. It is likely that employers will appreciate a college degree, as it does demonstrate a willingness to attain goals with determination and discipline. However, those characteristics can also be demonstrated in the workplace. Deeply detailed reference letters may begin to carry more weight than a college degree.

Theme 4: Training and learning systems will not meet 21stcentury needs by 2026

Jobs of the future may change too quickly to allow today’s workers to get up to speed in time to fill positions. Many workers are unable to take on or unwilling to make the self-directed sacrifices they must to fine-tune their skills.

This leads educators to emphasize STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in our public schools. Teachers and politicians are working to ensure the next generation is well-trained in technology in the hopes of staving off a job market starving for qualified candidates.

Theme 5: Technological forces will fundamentally change work and the economic landscape

There is a loud cry in the job marketplace that advances in technology will overtake the time it takes to train new people. Many see a society where AI programs and machines do most of the work.

There is no doubt there will be many millions more people and millions fewer jobs in the future. But, if industry does a good job increasing skills training, technology may not quite take over at the rate many see as inevitable.

Conclusion

Regardless of automation and AI, there will always be a need for a human labor force. While robots and smart computers can take over some menial tasks, as well as cognitive driven tasks, humans will be required to maintain and program our artificial workforce.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Anna Kucirkova works as a copywriter for over 4 years. She speaks 3 languages, loves traveling and has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and South East Asia, she still wants to explore the rest of the world.

Black Holes and Taboos

This blog is a companion to the May 9, 2017, interview with Gary W. Patterson, CEO of the Fiscal Doctor on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on Board Black Holes and Taboos. This blog is based on an article by Gary W. Patterson published in Financier World Wide, Boardroom Intelligence. Gary and Maureen are collaborating to refresh the data and identify the most recent issues.

 

We invite you to take the new survey (5 minute investment) and help us update the results for 2017.

Carla was on the board of a high-profile company. Like many others, their industry was facing dramatic change because of the pressure retailers were experiencing. Her primary distributor was facing economic challenges and she wanted to diversify to manage the potential risk. At the same time, she wanted the company to pay attention to the speed with which competitors were developing new products and evaluate how her organization should pace new products to stay current and manage profitability.

Boards continue to govern in an increasingly complex business environment. Participants at the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Annual Board Leadership Conference SUCCESS identified a list of twenty uncomfortable topics that board directors and CEOs sometimes gloss over. We believe all directors should be considering how they are performing against these criteria. We created an updated survey for you to evaluate your risk and encourage you to evaluate how you score on this 10-question board health check-up and identify where you might be experiencing your highest risk.

According to Gary Patterson, “Pressed by hard financial realities, leaders say they made it through the recession by hunkering down through the mean times and getting lean. They were forced to cut fat, then muscle, and finally bone.” They are so busy delivering the current products and services and focusing on meeting current objectives that they often don’t have the capacity to do as thorough an evaluation to identify future risks, as they would prefer. We live in a world where there is not enough money, people and time to fix all problems and pursue all opportunities. If leaders don’t think through the taboo topics, they can make suboptimal choices.

Gary grouped the top issues into five key categories:

  • True customer and service profitability: Organizations need to understand their business and how they compare to their competitors against current performance and against projected trends so they can proactively manage the opportunities and threats we will face.
  • Ability to handle change: Organizations are not putting enough focus on strategically identifying possible changes and conducting experiments that will give them data they can use to navigate new or different territory. This includes leveraging their best people and proactively performing succession planning and developing future and emerging leaders across the enterprise.
  • Overly optimistic financials and procedures: Organizations need to continually invest in innovation, including addressing structural barriers such as incentive plans and risk profiles to ensure they are positioned to stay relevant while not being overly leveraged because they tried to innovate too quickly or placed too many or too high-risk bets for their financial situation.
  • Opportunity cost: Organizations often play it safe a bit too long and hesitate to terminate products and services that are no longer supporting long-term profitability and may be draining resources. This happens for many reasons ranging from lack of sufficient data to thinking too conservatively about innovation and risk.
  • Situational blindness: Unwillingness to see and consistently address the “brutal facts” when they are presented including the regulatory concerns about executive compensation.

As executives and board members, it is critical to take the time to periodically evaluate these risks and mitigate them. Perhaps now is the time to get your organizational house in a little better order: to know, prioritise, and fix those high-impact issues that will not go away. With that process, you will better understand your risk profile and be more comfortable that the right big bets are being made on your business. Then, you can worry less about your million-dollar blind spot finding you before you find it.

About the author Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Proactively Addressing Failures of Leadership

The following blog post was written by Dani Robbins, one of our associates. Dani Robbins is the founder and Principal of Non Profit Evolution, www.nonprofitevolution.com, a consulting firm providing board governance and operational assistance, including capacity building, to non-profit organizations.

I have been thinking about failures of leadership as of late, and not just failures but if and how leaders are trained to respond to potential liabilities (and thereby avoid the failures!).  Since I am guest blogging I will share that I own a non-profit management consulting firm which I started after have spent my career leading non-profits.  My leadership style has evolved and greatly benefited from the brilliant and strategic minds at Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  My lens has also been impacted by my prior work with victims of violence.  The combination has taught me to be mindful of potential liabilities and have a plan to deal with them.  In fact, I have two general theories, and have encouraged my team and my clients over the years to plan accordingly:

  1. Risk management is easier that damage control.
  2. Having a plan will reduce the need for a plan, and allow you to immediately implement the plan rather than figure out a plan in the middle of a crisis.

So with that, I have been wondering about the absence of reaction, follow through and planning from a wide variety of leaders as of late. Here are a few:

  • The Sherriff of Muskingum County, Ohio, who showed tremendous leadership and did everything in his power to protect people and property when the wild animal crisis happened but had no obvious plan to avert its happening, or even to reduce the damage once it happened, which he and other clearly knew it would.
  • Coach Paterno and Coach Tressel who both went down for different things (Yes, Tressel’s failure pales in comparison) yet had either lived up to their formidable reputations, the failures would not have happened at all or for the length of time they happened.  In Paterno’s case, several children were traumatized, and he could have protected them, but didn’t – either because he wasn’t trained to react and follow thru appropriately, or didn’t know he was responsible to protect children, as we all are.

Those are the most well publicized incidences of leadership failure in recent memory, politics aside.   I also have one incidence of leadership success. The Trustees of the Board of Penn State did what was right, instead of what was popular:  They fired the President.  They fired the Coach. They didn’t let him finish the season. They didn’t let him finish the week.  He went home that day, and to his credit, Coach Paterno left in a way that reminded everyone how he earned his reputation in the first place, by acting with class.

I write crisis management and crisis communication plans for my clients, and encourage all companies, for profit or not for profit, to have one.  But a plan is not enough, especially if that plan sits on a shelf.  A plan, coupled with regular training, discussion of scenarios at staff meetings, feedback loops to address issues that had crisis potential, and accountability for action and inaction, all need to be combined to create the kind of leadership that avoids failure by creating plans to manage risk, so they do not have to control damage.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Walk Out Walk On – Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze

I attended a discussion this morning led by Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze about their latest book about leaders who walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities. These Walk Outs Who Walk On use their ingenuity and caring to figure out how to work with what they have to create what they need.  They were quite compelling and for those studying Innovative leadership their work appears to point to the same or similar qualities as we do (using different language).  They give beautiful examples of how these qualities put to work around the globe produce amazing examples.

Their model may seem radical to many.  Part of the discussion revolved around how do we move to this model when what we have is generally working?  The answer may be that we make the move when we have nothing to lose – focusing on times of crisis.

They told a story of a project in Brazil that involved renovation of a building and creating a park.  The images of the starting place were worse than anything most of us have ever seen and yet they embarked on this journey in a very unorthodox way – doing the work 15 minutes per day.  The “rules of game” dictated that everything was done differently than we typically approach a project.  One thing that struck me was that it created a space for interested people in the community to get involved and take ownership of the project.  The idea that this was a “game” seemed to permeate the entire project.  I refer to these as experiments but really like the idea that it is played like a game – that there is space for curiosity and experimentation and that failure leads to more experimentation.

If you are intersted in learning more, I highly recommend exploring their site.  This is particularly interesting as the Occupy Wall Street movement is showing some signs of walking out.  The next question is what are they walking on to?

What are you walking out of in your life?  What are you walking on to?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Innovative Leadership to Navigate Uncertainty

Are your leadership actions impeding innovation?  Are your change initiatives successfully implemented and delivering the benefits you expected?  How is YOUR behavior impacting their ability to delivery results?

Many traditional leaders spend more time perfecting their golf swings than they do improving their ability to lead in this current environment.  The most successful leaders continue to improve their leadership skills including the level of self-knowledge and introspection that provides a feedback loop for ongoing improvement.

Innovative leadership is the type of leadership that allows already successful leaders to raise the bar on their performance and the performance of their organizations.

An innovative leader is defined as someone who consistently delivers results using the following:

  • Strategic leadership that inspires individual goals and organizations vision and cultures;
  • Tactical leadership that influences an individual’s actions and the organizations systems and processes.
  • Holistic Leadership that aligns all key dimensions:  Individual, culture, action and systems.

While others differentiate leadership from management this definition includes both because, to fully implement innovative change, the organizational leaders need to both set the strategy and be sufficiently involved in the tactics to ensure innovation and changes happen.  This does not mean micro managing – it means an awareness and involvement in all elements of the innovation and change process. This includes continually growing and evolving leadership capacity and actions, leading and implementing culture and system changes within the organization.

Let’s look at an example of a leader who faced a change she had not previously faced in her business.  She runs Working Partners, an organization focusing on creating drug free workplaces.  She built a strong successful business and yet, external pressures changed her market.  The government provided many of these services at a lower cost.  Being a very innovative leader, she worked with her immediate team and sought external input on possible options.

As of this writing, she is launching multiple pilot projects that will enhance and/or change her company and its offerings.  They will take the results of the pilots and determine how to refine the course of the business to ensure long term organizational success and customer service.

It is important to note that some of these pilots reflect small changes based on distribution channel and methods of delivery.  Others seem radical and include significant expansion of the organization’s mission.  Because the founder, Dee Mason, is proactive and open to exploring a broad range of changes, she will find a series of innovations that allow the organization to thrive.  Part of her success in making significant change will include looking at the entire system to make holistic changes including how she herself leads the organization.  This is one of the qualities that is unique to innovative leaders, they are continually looking at who they are in the context of the organization and they continue to change and grow as they change their organizations.

What are specific qualities that differentiate an innovative leader from a traditional leader? In our time of rapid business, social and ecological change, a successful leader is a leader who can continually:

  • Clarify and effectively articulate vision
  • Link that vision to attainable strategic initiatives
  • Develop themselves and influence the development of other leaders
  • Build effective teams by helping colleagues enact their own leadership strengths
  • Cultivate alliances and partnerships
  • Anticipate and respond to both challenges and opportunities aggressively
  • Develop robust and resilient solutions
  • Develop and test hypothesis like a scientist
  • Measure, learn, and refine on an ongoing basis

To further illustrate some of the qualities of innovative leadership, we offer this comparison between traditional leadership and innovative leadership:

We keep hearing that the world is changing and it is.  The question for you is what will you do to lead the thinking and changes in these times rather than talking about how tough it is?  Will you be an innovator or a barrier to innovation?  The Innovative Leadership Fieldbook provides easy to use tools and reflection questions that lead you through a six step process to become a more innovative leader.

 

At Metcalf & Associaes, we are dedicated to inspiring leadership innovation within complex business environments. Our book, Innovative Leadership Fieldbook can be purchased on Amazon.  If you want to test how innovative you are as a leader, consider taking our free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment. Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

Photo credit:  nyoin flickr

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.