Build­ing blocks


Andy Swann, au­thor of The Hu­man Work­place, stresses the need for or­ga­ni­za­tions to be peo­ple-first.

“The hu­man work­place is one that adapts, in­no­vates fast, in­volves ev­ery­one, com­mu­ni­cates, un­der­stands, and acts in per­pe­tu­ity. It cre­ates re­la­tion­ships rather than trans­ac­tions.” Andy Swann, au­thor of The Hu­man Work­place, tells us why a peo­ple­cen­tered ap­proach to or­ga­ni­za­tional de­vel­op­ment is an im­per­a­tive for driv­ing suc­cess.

What is the sig­nif­i­cance of main­tain­ing bal­ance within an or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture?

As with ev­ery­where in life, bal­ance is essen­tial in any or­ga­ni­za­tion or work­place. Rest too much con­trol at the top of an or­ga­ni­za­tional hi­er­ar­chy (or any other ver­sion of struc­ture) and you sup­press cre­ativ­ity, col­lab­o­ra­tion, free­dom of thought, and free­dom of ac­tion. Th­ese are the things that can un­lock in­no­va­tion— whether in prod­uct or ser­vice, process or ap­proach—so by sup­press­ing them in fa­vor of top-down con­trol, you block the de­vel­op­ment and progress of your or­ga­ni­za­tion, per­haps even its sur­vival! In ad­di­tion, re­search shows that the less au­ton­omy peo­ple have in the work­place, the lower their morale and pro­duc­tiv­ity be­come.

The same can be said in re­verse. Of­fer com­plete free­dom with no pa­ram­e­ters or clear be­hav­ioral guide­lines and the or­ga­ni­za­tion will fall into neg­a­tive an­ar­chy, with no clar­ity, di­rec­tion, or con­sis­tency. Ab­so­lute free­dom can ac­tu­ally cre­ate a com­plete lack of un­der­stand­ing on what should be done and even lead to lethargy. I have seen many ex­am­ples of this hap­pen­ing in or­ga­ni­za­tions that at­tempt to of­fer their peo­ple the best work­ing con­di­tions and ac­tu­ally cre­ate a zero-work cul­ture. This never works well for the cus­tomer, em­ployee, or lead­er­ship.

True bal­ance of­fers just enough struc­ture for peo­ple to thrive—clear pur­pose, a shared vi­sion, adopted be­hav­iors, and free­dom within pa­ram­e­ters. Where this is pro­moted, di­rec­tion and vi­sion are main­tained, while col­lab­o­ra­tion, co-cre­ation, in­no­va­tion, and per­sonal growth thrive. Free­dom to act, as long as it is in the best in­ter­est of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, can be granted; the de­sign think­ing mind­set of learn­ing through rapid fail­ure al­lows for per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and the dis­cov­ery of new ways to suc­ceed. Ev­ery­one wins.

Why is a peo­ple-cen­tered ap­proach essen­tial to an or­ga­ni­za­tion’s growth?

Growth or suc­cess in the mod­ern, fast-mov­ing busi­ness world needs to be de­fined by the or­ga­ni­za­tion it­self. Set­ting out purely to ‘make a profit’ is not good. To­day’s con­sumers (whether em­ploy­ees or cus­tomers) de­mand a con­nec­tion, so or­ga­ni­za­tions are re­ally cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ties around a busi­ness aim. Mak­ing money for the or­ga­ni­za­tion is not enough to get ei­ther em­ploy­ees or cus­tomers ex­cited or com­mit­ted. While in the short-term this may work, in the long-term it is just not sus­tain­able as a busi­ness model for growth.

Giv­ing peo­ple rea­son to con­gre­gate in and around the busi­ness, stay­ing there for the long term, is the key. The most suc­cess­ful or co­her­ent com­mu­ni­ties have a strong, cen­tral shared fo­cus—sports teams are a per­fect ex­am­ple. All com­mu­ni­ties are based around peo­ple and en­abling them to thrive in the com­mu­nity, be­cause if they do not, they will go else­where.

That is the se­cret of a peo­ple-cen­tered or­ga­ni­za­tion. Giv­ing peo­ple a rea­son to be there and then stay there is a sim­ple idea, yet so many or­ga­ni­za­tions ig­nore it in their over-com­pli­ca­tion of every­thing. The idea of in­fi­nite, per­pet­ual growth is wrong. All or­ga­ni­za­tions should iden­tify their true tar­get pop­u­la­tions and fo­cus on en­gag­ing them through a great ex­pe­ri­ence. You can­not serve ev­ery­one all the time be­cause peo­ple want dif­fer­ent things. What you can do is serve the right peo­ple in the right way, de­vel­op­ing and diver­si­fy­ing from there.

When this truly peo­ple-cen­tric ap­proach is adopted, ev­ery­one wins. Be­cause the line be­tween cus­tomer and em­ployee is so blurred, it is best to look at all peo­ple con­gre­gat­ing around, or im­pacted by an or­ga­ni­za­tion as a part of the com­mu­nity. Each of th­ese groups has a dis­tance from the com­mu­nity nu­cleus and the closer to the nu­cleus a per­son is, the more in­tense the ex­pe­ri­ence and there­fore the con­nec­tion will be.

To achieve this, the or­ga­ni­za­tion needs to re­al­ize that it is a plat­form for peo­ple to thrive and build­ing that plat­form through a high-qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence for both cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees is its sole aim. This is a new per­spec­tive, which re­moves com­plex­ity and fo­cuses on what is truly essen­tial. Struc­ture, cul­ture, process, even work­ing en­vi­ron­ment can be built from this ex­pe­ri­ence-first per­spec­tive. This en­ables ev­ery­one to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity, re­ceive a great ex­pe­ri­ence from their in­ter­ac­tion with it, and con­trib­ute to their max­i­mum, whether through work, ad­vo­cacy, or loy­alty. This un­locks sat­is­fac­tion, en­gage­ment, pro­duc­tiv­ity, and profit.

We see el­e­ments of this ap­proach in many or­ga­ni­za­tions. Some of the most fa­mous and fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies in the world, from Mi­crosoft to Google, and Her­shey to Coca-Cola are start­ing to adopt th­ese ideas. Al­though not nec­es­sar­ily in a fully co­her­ent, busi­ness-wide global strat­egy, th­ese themes are start­ing to shine through and over time, adop­tion is in­creas­ing. Even­tu­ally, it will be­come the only way for busi­nesses to sus­tain in the true long term.

When an or­ga­ni­za­tion is peo­ple-first, ev­ery­one wins.

The ‘evolve or die’ mantra is core to ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion’s growth and suc­cess. In this con­text, you have high­lighted the demise of Ko­dak. What ad­vice would you give to en­sure the sur­vival of the com­pany?

Sur­vival for the fu­ture does not re­quire the com­plete re­moval or restruc­tur­ing of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, more the adop­tion of cer­tain key fea­tures, such as the flow of in­for­ma­tion into more user-cen­tric and sim­pli­fied forms. It is an it­er­a­tive ap­proach to or­ga­ni­za­tions and the re­al­iza­tion that noth­ing is ever fin­ished.

Ko­dak al­most died be­cause it ig­nored the im­por­tance of dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy, Block­buster died be­cause it did

Giv­ing peo­ple a rea­son to be there and then stay there is a sim­ple idea, yet so many or­ga­ni­za­tions ig­nore it in their over-com­pli­ca­tion of every­thing.

not re­al­ize that stream­ing movies at home would of­fer the best ex­pe­ri­ence for con­sumers. Th­ese are fa­mous ex­am­ples, but there are many more ex­am­ples of busi­nesses that have failed, or have only been pre­vented from fail­ing by a large cash re­serve, be­cause they failed to adapt to the chang­ing world quickly enough.

It is easy to ig­nore the rapidly chang­ing world and just as­sume that ‘do­ing what we have al­ways done’ will work be­cause it worked in the past. The or­ga­ni­za­tions be­hind many printed news­pa­pers are now strug­gling to adapt as me­dia com­pa­nies in the mod­ern world, while Vice and oth­ers are achiev­ing great suc­cess.

The mo­ment an or­ga­ni­za­tion stands still is the mo­ment it gives oth­ers a chance to pass it by. We must never as­sume that things are fin­ished, for the sim­ple rea­son that the world never stops turn­ing. As long as that hap­pens, there will be evo­lu­tion and evo­lu­tion re­quires con­stant and rapid adap­ta­tion to the present and fu­ture.

Suc­cess should be cel­e­brated, but it is fleet­ing. Ap­plaud every­thing, but re­al­ize that as soon as one suc­cess hap­pens, it is time to fo­cus on the next one. Stay aware, stay con­nected to the user base, and con­tinue to it­er­ate prod­ucts/ser­vices, the fo­cus of your busi­ness and the struc­ture of your or­ga­ni­za­tion based on what cus­tomers/ em­ploy­ees are telling you, within the con­text of the wider world around you.

“Or­ga­ni­za­tions do not need to be rein­vented. All of the ba­sic parts are present, it is just a case of un­lock­ing the struc­ture to al­low peo­ple to be their best.” Could you elab­o­rate on this with an ex­am­ple?

Much of the the­ory of or­ga­ni­za­tional de­vel­op­ment and busi­ness strat­egy over the last decade has fo­cused on how an en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion is struc­tured. Ideas like Ho­lacracy and Teal have risen, with peo­ple start­ing to build con­sul­tancy busi­nesses based on th­ese ‘blue­prints’. It is not nec­es­sar­ily help­ful.

Whole­sale change is dis­rup­tive, re­source-heavy and if it is ill-thought out can cre­ate real harm for a busi­ness. Ev­ery busi­ness is a unique com­bi­na­tion of in­di­vid­u­als and teams con­gre­gated around a unique mis­sion or pur­pose, so there is no guar­an­tee that what worked for another busi­ness can work for yours. The only true so­lu­tion is the one specif­i­cally de­signed for you, by you.

It is essen­tial to gather in­sight and an un­der­stand­ing of what oth­ers are do­ing, but rec­og­nize that the real fo­cus should be on work­ing in­ter­nally to un­der­stand and un­lock the fu­ture from within by gain­ing in­sight, clar­ity, and of­ten just get­ting out of the way and al­low­ing it to hap­pen. Rec­og­niz­ing the great work that al­ready hap­pens and the po­ten­tial for mak­ing it even greater is essen­tial. Dur­ing my re­search, I en­counter many ex­am­ples of star­tups re­ceiv­ing me­dia ac­claim af­ter achiev­ing a cou­ple of mil­lion dol­lars turnover, yet within more es­tab­lished or­ga­ni­za­tions, there are in­di­vid­u­als whose work cre­ates hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars of im­pact ev­ery year but it goes un­rec­og­nized be­cause it is just part of their job.

The el­e­ments of suc­cess are al­ready within ev­ery busi­ness, they just re­quire fo­cus. Ideas, in­sight, cre­ativ­ity, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and in­no­va­tion are all avail­able, as long as they are al­lowed to hap­pen. The or­ga­ni­za­tion needs to pro­vide the min­i­mal plat­form needed to al­low every­thing and ev­ery­one to thrive—free­dom within pa­ram­e­ters, then know when it is time to step back and al­low peo­ple to thrive in their work, for the good of the busi­ness.

The mo­ment an or­ga­ni­za­tion stands still is the mo­ment it gives oth­ers a chance to pass it by.

From an HR per­spec­tive, how can one en­sure to build qual­ity re­la­tion­ships amongst the em­ploy­ees?

From a re­la­tion­ship per­spec­tive, it is time to start act­ing at work as we would at home. Out­side work, if some­body makes you a meal, you gen­uinely thank them with­out stop­ping to think about it, yet at work, peo­ple spend hours do­ing tasks to make profit for share­hold­ers and rarely get thanked.

Qual­ity re­la­tion­ships are sim­ple be­cause they are hu­man and based on mu­tual re­spect. Busi­ness-em­ployee re­la­tion­ships have tra­di­tion­ally been like a par­ent-child rather than adult-adult, which is why many neg­a­tive be­hav­iors thrive. Not only does this breed a lack of re­spect from the ‘chil­dren’ in the re­la­tion­ship to­wards the ‘adults’, but also en­ables the same in re­verse. A lack of ac­count­abil­ity en­abled by stack­ing power at the top of a hi­er­ar­chi­cal tri­an­gle is why there has been such en­demic dis­crim­i­na­tion and of­ten ha­rass­ment in the work­place. Just look at what is hap­pen­ing in Hol­ly­wood right now as a per­fect ex­am­ple.

Does di­ver­sity aid/hin­der this ap­proach?

The greater the di­ver­sity in a work­place, the greater is the op­por­tu­nity for al­ter­na­tive per­spec­tives, col­lab­o­ra­tions, in­sights, and ideas. The more an or­ga­ni­za­tion, unit, or team is based on car­bon copies, the less po­ten­tial it has and the more it breeds neg­a­tive be­hav­iors. There is no ex­cuse for ha­rass­ment, pay gaps or any other form of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place; not only is it wrong, it hin­ders the busi­ness.

How can a com­pany be more cre­ative with their re­cruit­ment strate­gies?

En­abling di­ver­sity through cre­ative re­cruit­ment is not al­ways easy, with bias very dif­fi­cult to re­move. Even al­go­rithms are cre­ated by hu­mans, so have some kind of built-in bias.

Shift­ing fo­cus away from the skills, knowl­edge, and ex­pe­ri­ence first, to fo­cus on the right per­son for the or­ga­ni­za­tion in terms of align­ment and ap­ti­tude, is essen­tial. Those other things can all be pro­vided by the or­ga­ni­za­tion, but the one thing you can­not af­fect is who some­one is. Ap­proach­ing that through im­mer­sive, ex­pe­ri­en­tial re­cruit­ing is a good strat­egy, keep­ing in mind that an in­di­vid­ual’s ex­pe­ri­ence with your or­ga­ni­za­tion be­gins at the very first point of con­tact. Of­ten, this can be sub­mit­ting a job ap­pli­ca­tion, so the least you can do is make sure they re­ceive a gen­uine, hu­man re­sponse.

The greater the di­ver­sity in a work­place, the greater is the op­por­tu­nity for al­ter­na­tive per­spec­tives, col­lab­o­ra­tions, in­sights, and ideas.

With the work­place con­stantly chang­ing—robots tak­ing over in the fu­ture—how ef­fec­tive is an ‘all about peo­ple’ strat­egy? How will hu­mans be at the cen­ter of a work­place?

We need to bust some of the myths around robots tak­ing over. Ini­tially, they are start­ing to do the jobs that hu­mans do not en­joy. The rea­son Tay­lorism came to the fore­front dur­ing the In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion was be­cause it used peo­ple as robots to do repet­i­tive tasks with­out think­ing or act­ing with per­son­al­ity. Now we have ac­tual robots to do the ‘ro­bot’ jobs, which pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to use peo­ple for do­ing more hu­man things.

Cre­ativ­ity, em­pa­thy, ideas, con­ver­sa­tion. All of th­ese things are hu­man traits and are also what un­lock the in­no­va­tive fu­ture of or­ga­ni­za­tions. Or­ga­ni­za­tions can use hu­mans more as hu­mans, which is ex­cit­ing. En­abling peo­ple is a nat­u­ral part of cre­at­ing a peo­ple-cen­tric or­ga­ni­za­tion, so the use of tech­nol­ogy as a tool for that en­able­ment is a nat­u­ral part of cre­at­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is all about peo­ple.

More widely, as peo­ple pre­vi­ously joined man­u­fac­tur­ing lines, tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship started to lose value. We are now see­ing th­ese skills rise again as peo­ple move away from the monotony.

Over time, more and more jobs will be able to be taken on by robots—the idea of self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles alone has the po­ten­tial to ren­der mil­lions upon mil­lions of global driv­ing jobs ob­so­lete. How­ever, th­ese shifts cre­ate new jobs that we do not yet know about and they may also of­fer hu­mans the op­por­tu­nity to work less. If we do not need to work solely to sur­vive, we can live and con­trib­ute in many new and far more hu­man ways. In fact, we have the op­por­tu­nity to start be­hav­ing as hu­mans be­haved in the pre-cap­i­tal­ist world.

Of course, there are po­ten­tially huge so­cial, eco­nomic, and so­ci­etal im­pacts, but the best thing about hu­mans is how adap­tive we are. By plug­ging into that trait, we can cre­ate op­por­tu­nity from what­ever comes next. We def­i­nitely need to be think­ing about a post-work so­ci­ety now and how we will eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain ev­ery­one. Ex­per­i­ments with uni­ver­sal ba­sic in­come are an en­cour­ag­ing start, but there is so much work to be done, not least the as­so­ci­a­tion of power with wealth.

How can or­ga­ni­za­tions go be­yond the num­ber of hours worked by the em­ployee to mea­sur­ing her con­tri­bu­tion?

We have seen a huge shift over the last few years. The rise of agile and flex­i­ble work­ing has started to un­tether cer­tain po­si­tions from desks, or lo­ca­tions and tech­nol­ogy means we can com­mu­ni­cate in new ways, mak­ing the re­quire­ment to be in a cer­tain place at a cer­tain time less essen­tial (al­though not in all cases). There is an op­por­tu­nity to cap­i­tal­ize on this.

The 2017 Well­ness To­gether re­search in the UK iden­ti­fied a link be­tween well­ness, pro­duc­tiv­ity, and profit, so the mes­sage is clear that when peo­ple are at their best, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is at its best. How and when peo­ple are able to be at their best varies by per­son, cir­cum­stance, task, and many other fac­tors, so all of that needs to be taken into ac­count. The case is there to do so.

It is al­ways dis­ap­point­ing to see ma­jor or­ga­ni­za­tions of­fer flex­i­ble work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, club­house-style work­places, mo­bile work­ing tech­nol­ogy, but then is­sue con­tracts that still spec­ify a set num­ber of hours, of­ten over set times and days of the week. If I have some­thing to fin­ish, feel in­spired to do it on a Sun­day, and work for four­teen hours on it, should I still be ex­pected to be at work on Mon­day morn­ing if my kids need to be taken to school?

There are many ques­tions to be an­swered, but there is still a huge dis­con­nect be­tween HR, real es­tate, fa­cil­i­ties, op­er­a­tions, IT/tech, and fi­nance when it comes to cre­at­ing th­ese co­her­ent strate­gies. Airbnb cre­ated the cross­func­tional Head of Em­ployee Ex­pe­ri­ence po­si­tion, which is a great ex­am­ple of a step in the right di­rec­tion, but there is much work to be done for most or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Un­der­stand­ing what true con­tri­bu­tion is, how to en­able it, mea­sure it and re­ward or rec­og­nize it is part of the chal­lenge and there is some great work hap­pen­ing with the rise of recog­ni­tion. Her­shey’s is one ex­am­ple of an or­ga­ni­za­tion achiev­ing re­sults in this area.

The ab­so­lute pa­ram­e­ters of a busi­ness or role need to be taken into ac­count, then the in­di­vid­ual given the max­i­mum pos­si­ble free­dom acts in the in­ter­ests of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Do­ing this elim­i­nates much of the un­nec­es­sary com­plex­ity and un­locks wider ben­e­fits, how­ever most or­ga­ni­za­tions still base HR pol­icy on pro­tec­tion and con­trol, which makes hours and tick boxes the norm.

To achieve the ben­e­fits of be­ing peo­ple-cen­tric, or­ga­ni­za­tions need to un­leash peo­ple. It is far eas­ier to do than you think and is all part of the let­ting go, get­ting out of the way ex­er­cise—it just needs to be al­lowed to hap­pen. Af­ter all, if you do not trust your peo­ple, then they are not the right ones for you.

How can or­ga­ni­za­tions use com­mu­ni­ca­tion to in­form and em­power peo­ple?

The flow of in­for­ma­tion is the sin­gle most im­por­tant tool ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion has at its dis­posal to cre­ate its fu­ture. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the ba­sis of feed­back, ideas, in­no­va­tion, shar­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tion and ev­ery other as­pect of cre­at­ing fluid, fast-mov­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions that can de­liver and adapt.

Un­lock­ing the flow means that the right in­for­ma­tion can reach the right per­son, right when they need it. Whether to im­prove cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, or put a great idea in front of the right de­ci­sion-maker, the more ob­sta­cles we re­move, the more ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­comes.

The big­ger an or­ga­ni­za­tion, the greater the re­serve of hu­man po­ten­tial they pos­sess, yet they keep this locked up by re­strict­ing peo­ple to tasks and elab­o­rate lad­der-climb­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Broad­cast­ing pre-edited mes­sages down from the top is dated and in­ef­fec­tive. Look on ev­ery per­son within the or­ga­ni­za­tion as part of a sin­gle en­tity. Mak­ing in­for­ma­tion openly avail­able wher­ever pos­si­ble and rea­son­able al­lows the en­tire en­tity to think and act, gain­ing in­sight from the right peo­ple at the right time.

To in­form and em­power your em­ploy­ees, it is as sim­ple as be­ing open, hon­est, al­low­ing two-way con­ver­sa­tions, en­abling the flow of in­for­ma­tion, en­sur­ing ev­ery­one has a voice, and al­low­ing all peo­ple to take own­er­ship of achiev­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion.

There are many ways to do this, from com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools to open ideation and col­lab­o­ra­tion plat­forms. The key mes­sage, as with all of this, is to keep it as sim­ple and in­tu­itive as pos­si­ble, giv­ing your peo­ple what they need to achieve your col­lec­tive goals.

Many com­pa­nies re­duce work­force due to the ad­di­tion of robots and machines. How can this not be viewed as a threat to hu­mans in a work­place? What can an or­ga­ni­za­tion do to em­brace au­to­ma­tion and use tech­nol­ogy to al­low em­ploy­ees to work more ef­fi­ciently?

The para­dox of the rise of the robots needs to be seen within the con­text of where we are now. It is emerg­ing.

Sure, some jobs are be­ing re­moved, but it is no dif­fer­ent to any other time con­sumer de­mand, eco­nomic fea­si­bil­ity, or another fac­tor has caused a shift in the world. The demise of coal min­ing is a great ex­am­ple. The world and the work it re­quires is con­stantly mov­ing, so we need

The rise of tech­nol­ogy and ro­botic re­place­ments for hu­mans in roles does not dis­crim­i­nate.

to be ready as hu­mans and or­ga­ni­za­tions to adapt. Coal min­ers, de­spite the tra­di­tion and her­itage, as­so­ci­ated with their pro­fes­sion needed to adapt and change, to find new skills. It was not easy, but that is the world we live in. It is too sim­ple to for­get to take a re­moved look and un­der­stand that all of this is a man-made sys­tem and the game we are re­ally play­ing is sur­vival on a tiny bub­ble of in­fi­nite re­sources float­ing through the uni­verse.

Only a few hun­dred years ago, peo­ple ex­isted on sub­sis­tence and task. This has es­ca­lated into a sys­tem of ‘work’ that sep­a­rates home and task life for most peo­ple. A threat to hu­mans in the mod­ern work­place is also an op­por­tu­nity. It is a chance to po­ten­tially work less, to re­de­fine what it is to be hu­man, to fo­cus more on con­tribut­ing to our­selves, our fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in ways that make an im­pact, or that we love. But as an en­tire race we need to get it right.

The rise of tech­nol­ogy and ro­botic re­place­ments for hu­mans in roles does not dis­crim­i­nate. Sur­geons are just as at risk as drivers or line work­ers. It is time to start se­ri­ously think­ing about where this is go­ing and mak­ing a plan for the long term, but that is a job for gov­ern­ments.

For in­di­vid­ual or­ga­ni­za­tions, they can adopt tech­nol­ogy to en­able hu­man con­tri­bu­tion and cost-ef­fec­tively al­low hu­mans to fo­cus on cre­at­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tion’s fu­ture. If a ro­bot is un­der­tak­ing sys­tem­atic tasks, it al­lows hu­mans to be fo­cus­ing on ideas, in­sight, and in­no­vat­ing for the fu­ture. From the use of data or au­to­ma­tion to cre­ate an ex­cel­lent em­ployee ex­pe­ri­ence from ap­pli­ca­tion to dayto-day work through to the use of aug­mented re­al­ity for train­ing and robots for sup­port­ing tasks, we need to look at the en­tirety of the pic­ture and be proac­tive. Tech­nol­ogy and data, just like ev­ery ac­tion in an or­ga­ni­za­tion, need to be im­ple­mented for the right rea­sons. If the rea­sons are wrong, the only pur­pose is dis­trac­tive or de­struc­tive, ren­der­ing it pur­pose­less and cre­at­ing or­ga­ni­za­tional risk. The threat of a lost job is just the op­por­tu­nity for the cre­ation of another, we might just need to think dif­fer­ently about it all.

But, as hu­mans, that is ex­actly what we are best at! ■

(As told to Melissa Fer­nan­des)

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