.

The Flexible Future of Organizations

Presenter: Shanthi Flynn, Chief Human Resources Officer, Adecco Group We live in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment where change is not only persistent, but also accelerating. In fact, it is this constant rate of change that has caused the majority of traditional work infrastructures to begin losing their rigidity, leading to an increasingly unpredictable job landscape. In order to survive in this landscape, therefore, it is vital for both organizations and people to remain flexible and agile, as well as possess the ability to constantly reinvent themselves in an effort to successfully navigate the job landscape. People need to be flexible. Studies estimate that by 2025, 6 out of 10 jobs will be jobs that do not yet exist in today’s world. Therefore, it is imperative for people to become agile and develop a variety of skills to navigate the unknown future of occupations.  Everyone will need learning agility to survive the unpredictable job landscape. With automation set to take over many low-skilled tasks, it is important that everyone—especially those in low-skilled fields—focus on learning how to learn and relearn. Therefore, it is crucial that educational programs be put into place to help those with little training learn the skills necessary to acquiring higher-skilled jobs. People will need to focus on their core skills to remain agile. In addition to gaining new skills associated with technology and data, people will also need to continue focusing on core skills such as memory, focus and movement. With current trends such as instant access to information via mobile devices de-incentivizing these sorts of skills, however, many are in danger of having these core assets erode.  Organizations need to be flexible. While it is important for people to become flexible to better fit into organizations, it is equally important for organizations to gain flexibility in order to remain relevant in the tumultuous economy of both today and tomorrow. Organizations are already changing and transforming. The gig economy, which is an emerging economy based on temporary and short-term gigs in lieu of lifelong career paths, is becoming the new norm throughout the world. Estimated to be worth over $2.5 trillion by 2025, organizations are being strained to allow for a more ambiguous and constantly changing workforce—and freelancers are becoming fundamentally disadvantaged through the loss of benefits and social contributions often gained when working in long-term employment avenues. The technology platform will be essential for any global business. In order to become successful globally, organizations need to create technology platforms in partnership with tech companies—such as Microsoft or Google—that can be used for a variety of tasks and allow the company to become more agile in the technology-driven world. The boundaries of companies need to become more flexible. Even today, many companies have huge amounts of their workforce outsourced to other companies in order to make up for deficits in their talent pool. As the future of work becomes more ambiguous, it is likely that practices such as outsourcing will have to become more common in order to help companies remain flexible. “Human beings are fundamentally more creative; we make decisions; we have judgments. AI and robots are always going to be helping us to do stuff, but they are not going to be deciding what we need.” –Shanthi Flynn  

Industry 4.0 & Impact on Organization, People & Society

Presenter: Volker Stephan, Head of Human Resources, Europe, ABB With our perception of robots drastically changing from a fear of artificial intelligence in the 1950’s to the acceptance of robots as friendly helpers in the 1970’s to today’s view of robots acting in both positive and negative roles, our perception of robots—and Industry 4.0 by extension—has come a long way. Volker Stephan of ABB, a robotics company, details how in the past year alone, ABB was able to sell more robots in the first half of the year than the year before—and more in the first quarter than three years before. With demand for robots increasing dramatically, automation and other technologies are radically impacting all industries, and an important question is raised: how will these robots impact not only organizations, but people and society as a whole? Artificial Intelligence and robots will change jobs.  From the transformation of white-collar jobs to the reshaping of other work, AI and robotics will inevitably change the way jobs will be worked—and this change will continue to accelerate over time.    Artificial intelligence will transform white-collar management. While robotics is already altering the landscape of low-skilled jobs, AI is also set to transform the role of managers and white-collar workers in organizations. Currently, AI can be used as a decision helper by assisting employees with analytics and providing relevant information to ensure more educated decisions are made, and soon their transformation into decision recommenders and eventually prime decision makers will take away many of the key roles of white-collar managers, leaving organizations to reconfigure the role of how human employees will best be able to operate within their company. White-collar employees need to begin working on flexibility and lifelong learning now. Luckily, while robotics and artificial intelligence do have the ability to operate well in structured, pre-defined areas, it will be a long time until they are able to take over more complex tasks. In the meantime, it is important for all workers to learn how to be more agile as the job landscape continues to change and constant occupational shifts become the norm—and in order to accomplish this, therefore, it is imperative that the education system itself be made more agile and interdisciplinary in an effort to prepare future talent for this ambiguous job landscape. Digitalization will impact all aspects of the job landscape.  Digitalization will impact work itself. As digitalization continues to evolve, the notion of work itself will also change, leading to a necessary redefinition of the employer-employee relationship. The digitalization of work will also change human-led, manual work into automated and machine-led collaborative tasks, as well as shift the need for physical location-based work to more virtual and task-based work. Digitalization will impact the workforce. From the transformation of managing skills into managing partnerships, shift in focus on improvement and optimization towards focus on disruption and radical innovation and the transformation of of predictability and structure into the need for ambiguity, tolerance and resistance, digitalization will force people to move away from learning how to do and instead force them to learn how to learn. Digitalization will impact the workplace. In the future, rather than people going to where the work is, work will instead go to where the talent is; similarly, limited connectivity and on-premise work will be transformed into a constant digital connection to work, and teams will become more global and technology intensive rather than localized like many companies are today. Digitalization will impact organization and culture. While the world is currently experiencing a dichotomy between centralization and decentralization, digitalization will enable future organizations to focus on a more balanced and hybrid approach to work. Similarly, organizations will no longer have to choose between innovation and speed as digitalization will enable both to work simultaneously. “In the end, I truly believe that collaboration between machine and humans is a solution for the foreseeable future.” –Volker Stephan  

Critical Continua for the Future of Organizations

Presenter: Carissa Carter, Director of Teaching and Learning, Stanford University While we often acknowledge that the past has the ability to influence the future, the opposite holds true as well, with both the past and future affecting each other through a continuum. It is these sorts of continuums that Carissa Carter, director of teaching and learning at Stanford University, argues can be found throughout our world—such as the continuum between political parties, school and work, and even social issues such as the percentage of male CEOs to female CEOs. In an effort to study the effects of these continua, Stanford’s D School was created to take students from all seven colleges at Stanford and put them to work solving real world problems in teams where experiential learning was emphasized in lieu of case studies and lectures. Indeed, it is through this highly applied real-world work that students are best able to experience firsthand themselves the effects of the political, social and economic continuums that influence us all, and learn how to dismantle many of the oppressive schemes that hold back organizations today. There are several continua that affect the social, political and economic fabrics of our society. School / Work. While we traditionally expect people to follow a straightforward path from school to work, it is more effective for people to loop back and forth between the two in order to continue learning new skills and insights that can then continuously be applied to their work. Therefore, it is in an organization’s best interest to enable the practice lifelong education in their employees. Education System: Structured / Ambiguous. Right now, the US education system is more structured than it has ever been with a clear pipeline from K-12 to higher education. Conversely, the world we experience after higher education is extremely ambiguous—and it is this sharp dichotomy that often leads to the failure of many graduates to tackle the world of work successfully. In order to deal with the unpredictable nature of work after school, it is crucial for this ambiguity to be put into school life by providing students with opportunities to experience different work settings before they graduate. What you have proven you can do What you have the potential to do. In today’s higher education system, a student’s success is determined by the state of their transcripts, which often only documents what they have accomplished during school. However, a skill print model where both accomplishments and potentials are shown—such as one that showcases not only what classes a student has taken, but also future desires, interests and goals—may be more effective to not only show where a student has been, but also where they have the potential to go. 94.6% / 5.4%. This continuum demonstrates the percentage of male to female CEOs in SMP 500 companies, and also shows how crucial it is for organizations to be combatting the large gender gap found throughout industries. Bias / Intuition. Factors such as where we grew up, our culture and our current context leads to certain biases, but it is important to both use this bias and dismantle it by experiencing new environments and cultures in order to increase our intuition. Ornithologist (science) / Musician (liberal arts). Perhaps one of the most important continua in today’s landscape, the continuum that characterizes interdisciplinary learning has the ability to fuel groundbreaking creativity and innovation within teams and organizations. Place continua. From private to open, inclusive to exclusive, focused to generative, owned to maintained and precious to non-precious, the space we operate our organizations in can drastically alter how employees work. While a private, exclusive and non-precious space can be used to help individuals work on private projects, for example, open, inclusive and generative spaces can be used to inspire teams to work together in more creative ways. “I do believe that innovation happens when the edges of disciplines tickle each other and you figure out what you can create together.” –Carissa Carter  

What Works: Gender Equality by Design

Presenter: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy & Behavioral Economist, Harvard Kennedy School While almost all organizations desire to de-bias their practices and expand their talent pool, frameworks that reinforce long-held biases often subconsciously influence the job landscape as a whole. As Iris Bohnet of Harvard Kennedy School demonstrates, much like the popular checkerboard illusion where two squares that appear to be different colors due to the lighting of surrounding squares are actually the same color, our often misconceived notions about certain stereotypes—such as our views on women in the workforce—are influenced by the framework that surrounds us, and in order to see past the illusion of bias, organizations need to first dismantle the structures that hold these biases in place. Behavioral design can de-bias organizations. Rather than focusing on the near-impossible task of de-biasing the individual minds of employees, organizations need to first focus on using behavioral design to restructure frameworks within their companies in order to de-bias their systems, practices and procedures at all levels.  The Heidi Roisin Experiment is an example of how biases within an organization can be revealed. In a classic experiment where professors switched the name of a successful venture capitalist from Heidi to Howard in a case study they gave half of their students—with the other half reading the case study in its original form—they found that while all students agreed that Heidi/Howard performed well, fewer students agreed to the question of whether or not they would hire Heidi, despite the fact all other factors remained the same except the name change. This ultimately revealed not only the internal stereotypes many of the students had in regards to what a venture capitalist “should” look like, but also stereotypes about how a woman should be. US orchestras reveal one example of how an organization can de-bias their framework. In the 1970’s, major orchestras throughout the US made a move away from being able to see players auditioning by introducing a curtain behind which they would audition instead—a design choice that was able to remove any biases a director may have towards the player and allow them to focus solely on the music. Since then, the amount of women in major symphony orchestras in the US has increased from 5% in the 1970’s to over 40% today. Changing the language in a job ad can impact whether more men or women will apply for the job. Similarly, letters of recommendation are often written in a gendered fashion and can impact the likelihood of a job candidate being hired. Luckily, there are algorithms being created today that have the ability to de-bias letters of recommendation and job ads, allowing for more bias-free selection of candidates. The SAT restructured its test in order to alleviate bias against females. With several studies pointing to gender differences in willingness to take risks, the SAT recently reformatted their test to take away penalties for wrong guessing, an action that allows many women—who are more likely to be averse to risk—to feel comfortable answering all questions. There are several things organizations need to do to de-bias their companies. While many organizations have focused on things such as diversity training, mentoring and leadership opportunities to de-bias their framework, very little measurements have been put into place to actually measure whether or not these initiatives are effective. The few measurements that have been taken, however, reveal that most of these programs remain wholly ineffective, and therefore a different mindset needs to be adopted by companies. The way your organization evaluates job candidates needs to change. Practices such as unstructured interviews and panel interviews tend to actually reinforce company biases, even if the panel is made up of diverse members. In order to more objectively evaluate job candidates, therefore, companies need to focus on structured interviews that ask the same questions to all candidates. The way your organization promotes people needs to change. It is crucial that when promoting employees, organizations provide adequate support to promotional candidates that may not receive enough initial support due to their background, nationality or other similar factors. Similarly, it is important for companies to focus on performance and define potential, and it is equally essential for candidates to not share self-evaluations with managers. “That is the power of design: a little bit of psychology, a little bit of understanding about how these things work, and we can actually measure the playing field for everyone.” –Iris Bohnet

About
Winona Roylance
:
Winona Roylance is Diplomatic Courier's Managing Editor and Special Series Editor.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

The Future of Organizations - Essays from GTS 2018

February 22, 2018

The Flexible Future of Organizations

Presenter: Shanthi Flynn, Chief Human Resources Officer, Adecco Group We live in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment where change is not only persistent, but also accelerating. In fact, it is this constant rate of change that has caused the majority of traditional work infrastructures to begin losing their rigidity, leading to an increasingly unpredictable job landscape. In order to survive in this landscape, therefore, it is vital for both organizations and people to remain flexible and agile, as well as possess the ability to constantly reinvent themselves in an effort to successfully navigate the job landscape. People need to be flexible. Studies estimate that by 2025, 6 out of 10 jobs will be jobs that do not yet exist in today’s world. Therefore, it is imperative for people to become agile and develop a variety of skills to navigate the unknown future of occupations.  Everyone will need learning agility to survive the unpredictable job landscape. With automation set to take over many low-skilled tasks, it is important that everyone—especially those in low-skilled fields—focus on learning how to learn and relearn. Therefore, it is crucial that educational programs be put into place to help those with little training learn the skills necessary to acquiring higher-skilled jobs. People will need to focus on their core skills to remain agile. In addition to gaining new skills associated with technology and data, people will also need to continue focusing on core skills such as memory, focus and movement. With current trends such as instant access to information via mobile devices de-incentivizing these sorts of skills, however, many are in danger of having these core assets erode.  Organizations need to be flexible. While it is important for people to become flexible to better fit into organizations, it is equally important for organizations to gain flexibility in order to remain relevant in the tumultuous economy of both today and tomorrow. Organizations are already changing and transforming. The gig economy, which is an emerging economy based on temporary and short-term gigs in lieu of lifelong career paths, is becoming the new norm throughout the world. Estimated to be worth over $2.5 trillion by 2025, organizations are being strained to allow for a more ambiguous and constantly changing workforce—and freelancers are becoming fundamentally disadvantaged through the loss of benefits and social contributions often gained when working in long-term employment avenues. The technology platform will be essential for any global business. In order to become successful globally, organizations need to create technology platforms in partnership with tech companies—such as Microsoft or Google—that can be used for a variety of tasks and allow the company to become more agile in the technology-driven world. The boundaries of companies need to become more flexible. Even today, many companies have huge amounts of their workforce outsourced to other companies in order to make up for deficits in their talent pool. As the future of work becomes more ambiguous, it is likely that practices such as outsourcing will have to become more common in order to help companies remain flexible. “Human beings are fundamentally more creative; we make decisions; we have judgments. AI and robots are always going to be helping us to do stuff, but they are not going to be deciding what we need.” –Shanthi Flynn  

Industry 4.0 & Impact on Organization, People & Society

Presenter: Volker Stephan, Head of Human Resources, Europe, ABB With our perception of robots drastically changing from a fear of artificial intelligence in the 1950’s to the acceptance of robots as friendly helpers in the 1970’s to today’s view of robots acting in both positive and negative roles, our perception of robots—and Industry 4.0 by extension—has come a long way. Volker Stephan of ABB, a robotics company, details how in the past year alone, ABB was able to sell more robots in the first half of the year than the year before—and more in the first quarter than three years before. With demand for robots increasing dramatically, automation and other technologies are radically impacting all industries, and an important question is raised: how will these robots impact not only organizations, but people and society as a whole? Artificial Intelligence and robots will change jobs.  From the transformation of white-collar jobs to the reshaping of other work, AI and robotics will inevitably change the way jobs will be worked—and this change will continue to accelerate over time.    Artificial intelligence will transform white-collar management. While robotics is already altering the landscape of low-skilled jobs, AI is also set to transform the role of managers and white-collar workers in organizations. Currently, AI can be used as a decision helper by assisting employees with analytics and providing relevant information to ensure more educated decisions are made, and soon their transformation into decision recommenders and eventually prime decision makers will take away many of the key roles of white-collar managers, leaving organizations to reconfigure the role of how human employees will best be able to operate within their company. White-collar employees need to begin working on flexibility and lifelong learning now. Luckily, while robotics and artificial intelligence do have the ability to operate well in structured, pre-defined areas, it will be a long time until they are able to take over more complex tasks. In the meantime, it is important for all workers to learn how to be more agile as the job landscape continues to change and constant occupational shifts become the norm—and in order to accomplish this, therefore, it is imperative that the education system itself be made more agile and interdisciplinary in an effort to prepare future talent for this ambiguous job landscape. Digitalization will impact all aspects of the job landscape.  Digitalization will impact work itself. As digitalization continues to evolve, the notion of work itself will also change, leading to a necessary redefinition of the employer-employee relationship. The digitalization of work will also change human-led, manual work into automated and machine-led collaborative tasks, as well as shift the need for physical location-based work to more virtual and task-based work. Digitalization will impact the workforce. From the transformation of managing skills into managing partnerships, shift in focus on improvement and optimization towards focus on disruption and radical innovation and the transformation of of predictability and structure into the need for ambiguity, tolerance and resistance, digitalization will force people to move away from learning how to do and instead force them to learn how to learn. Digitalization will impact the workplace. In the future, rather than people going to where the work is, work will instead go to where the talent is; similarly, limited connectivity and on-premise work will be transformed into a constant digital connection to work, and teams will become more global and technology intensive rather than localized like many companies are today. Digitalization will impact organization and culture. While the world is currently experiencing a dichotomy between centralization and decentralization, digitalization will enable future organizations to focus on a more balanced and hybrid approach to work. Similarly, organizations will no longer have to choose between innovation and speed as digitalization will enable both to work simultaneously. “In the end, I truly believe that collaboration between machine and humans is a solution for the foreseeable future.” –Volker Stephan  

Critical Continua for the Future of Organizations

Presenter: Carissa Carter, Director of Teaching and Learning, Stanford University While we often acknowledge that the past has the ability to influence the future, the opposite holds true as well, with both the past and future affecting each other through a continuum. It is these sorts of continuums that Carissa Carter, director of teaching and learning at Stanford University, argues can be found throughout our world—such as the continuum between political parties, school and work, and even social issues such as the percentage of male CEOs to female CEOs. In an effort to study the effects of these continua, Stanford’s D School was created to take students from all seven colleges at Stanford and put them to work solving real world problems in teams where experiential learning was emphasized in lieu of case studies and lectures. Indeed, it is through this highly applied real-world work that students are best able to experience firsthand themselves the effects of the political, social and economic continuums that influence us all, and learn how to dismantle many of the oppressive schemes that hold back organizations today. There are several continua that affect the social, political and economic fabrics of our society. School / Work. While we traditionally expect people to follow a straightforward path from school to work, it is more effective for people to loop back and forth between the two in order to continue learning new skills and insights that can then continuously be applied to their work. Therefore, it is in an organization’s best interest to enable the practice lifelong education in their employees. Education System: Structured / Ambiguous. Right now, the US education system is more structured than it has ever been with a clear pipeline from K-12 to higher education. Conversely, the world we experience after higher education is extremely ambiguous—and it is this sharp dichotomy that often leads to the failure of many graduates to tackle the world of work successfully. In order to deal with the unpredictable nature of work after school, it is crucial for this ambiguity to be put into school life by providing students with opportunities to experience different work settings before they graduate. What you have proven you can do What you have the potential to do. In today’s higher education system, a student’s success is determined by the state of their transcripts, which often only documents what they have accomplished during school. However, a skill print model where both accomplishments and potentials are shown—such as one that showcases not only what classes a student has taken, but also future desires, interests and goals—may be more effective to not only show where a student has been, but also where they have the potential to go. 94.6% / 5.4%. This continuum demonstrates the percentage of male to female CEOs in SMP 500 companies, and also shows how crucial it is for organizations to be combatting the large gender gap found throughout industries. Bias / Intuition. Factors such as where we grew up, our culture and our current context leads to certain biases, but it is important to both use this bias and dismantle it by experiencing new environments and cultures in order to increase our intuition. Ornithologist (science) / Musician (liberal arts). Perhaps one of the most important continua in today’s landscape, the continuum that characterizes interdisciplinary learning has the ability to fuel groundbreaking creativity and innovation within teams and organizations. Place continua. From private to open, inclusive to exclusive, focused to generative, owned to maintained and precious to non-precious, the space we operate our organizations in can drastically alter how employees work. While a private, exclusive and non-precious space can be used to help individuals work on private projects, for example, open, inclusive and generative spaces can be used to inspire teams to work together in more creative ways. “I do believe that innovation happens when the edges of disciplines tickle each other and you figure out what you can create together.” –Carissa Carter  

What Works: Gender Equality by Design

Presenter: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy & Behavioral Economist, Harvard Kennedy School While almost all organizations desire to de-bias their practices and expand their talent pool, frameworks that reinforce long-held biases often subconsciously influence the job landscape as a whole. As Iris Bohnet of Harvard Kennedy School demonstrates, much like the popular checkerboard illusion where two squares that appear to be different colors due to the lighting of surrounding squares are actually the same color, our often misconceived notions about certain stereotypes—such as our views on women in the workforce—are influenced by the framework that surrounds us, and in order to see past the illusion of bias, organizations need to first dismantle the structures that hold these biases in place. Behavioral design can de-bias organizations. Rather than focusing on the near-impossible task of de-biasing the individual minds of employees, organizations need to first focus on using behavioral design to restructure frameworks within their companies in order to de-bias their systems, practices and procedures at all levels.  The Heidi Roisin Experiment is an example of how biases within an organization can be revealed. In a classic experiment where professors switched the name of a successful venture capitalist from Heidi to Howard in a case study they gave half of their students—with the other half reading the case study in its original form—they found that while all students agreed that Heidi/Howard performed well, fewer students agreed to the question of whether or not they would hire Heidi, despite the fact all other factors remained the same except the name change. This ultimately revealed not only the internal stereotypes many of the students had in regards to what a venture capitalist “should” look like, but also stereotypes about how a woman should be. US orchestras reveal one example of how an organization can de-bias their framework. In the 1970’s, major orchestras throughout the US made a move away from being able to see players auditioning by introducing a curtain behind which they would audition instead—a design choice that was able to remove any biases a director may have towards the player and allow them to focus solely on the music. Since then, the amount of women in major symphony orchestras in the US has increased from 5% in the 1970’s to over 40% today. Changing the language in a job ad can impact whether more men or women will apply for the job. Similarly, letters of recommendation are often written in a gendered fashion and can impact the likelihood of a job candidate being hired. Luckily, there are algorithms being created today that have the ability to de-bias letters of recommendation and job ads, allowing for more bias-free selection of candidates. The SAT restructured its test in order to alleviate bias against females. With several studies pointing to gender differences in willingness to take risks, the SAT recently reformatted their test to take away penalties for wrong guessing, an action that allows many women—who are more likely to be averse to risk—to feel comfortable answering all questions. There are several things organizations need to do to de-bias their companies. While many organizations have focused on things such as diversity training, mentoring and leadership opportunities to de-bias their framework, very little measurements have been put into place to actually measure whether or not these initiatives are effective. The few measurements that have been taken, however, reveal that most of these programs remain wholly ineffective, and therefore a different mindset needs to be adopted by companies. The way your organization evaluates job candidates needs to change. Practices such as unstructured interviews and panel interviews tend to actually reinforce company biases, even if the panel is made up of diverse members. In order to more objectively evaluate job candidates, therefore, companies need to focus on structured interviews that ask the same questions to all candidates. The way your organization promotes people needs to change. It is crucial that when promoting employees, organizations provide adequate support to promotional candidates that may not receive enough initial support due to their background, nationality or other similar factors. Similarly, it is important for companies to focus on performance and define potential, and it is equally essential for candidates to not share self-evaluations with managers. “That is the power of design: a little bit of psychology, a little bit of understanding about how these things work, and we can actually measure the playing field for everyone.” –Iris Bohnet

About
Winona Roylance
:
Winona Roylance is Diplomatic Courier's Managing Editor and Special Series Editor.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.