A lot of the Economist’s Talent Management conference did focus on changes in the world of work. Dean Royles even nicked Peter Cheese’s phrase about work, the workforce and the workplace. Here are my highlights:
Firstly, Will Hutton provided en excellent context for this change. The great reset is being caused by the depth and length of the current recessionary period. This of course varies by country – Will is upbeat about the Eurozone but pretty pessimistic about China.
In the UK, we’ve got to deal with ineffective innovation, the dysfunctionality about our approaches to ownership (I think Will was talking about housing but I’d put the stock market in the same category).
There are big shifts in technology underway as well. The last century has seen 9 general purpose technologies – technologies which impact other technologies – the internal combustion engine, electricity, motor vehicles, aeroplanes, mass production, the computer, lean production, the internet and biotechnology. But the next generation will see about 20 – the mobile phone, nanotechnologies, fusion energy, advanced materials, carbon sequestration, space, managing the nitrogen cycle, water, health informatics, durable customised infrastructure, customised medicine, the brain, cyberspace security, enhanced virtual reality, personalised learning, new manufacturing methods eg 3D printing, and the internet of things. Oh and big data? – eg the driverless car and pilotless airplane are dependent on sensors and communication networks – transport as big data (so car manufacturers are having to learn from Google about the next generation of cars!)
In her later session on how HR is impacted by all of this, Naomi Stanford mentioned Anybots too. Well, their impact may be less profound than most of the above but they’re a great example of how technologies can be humanised too:
We need to get serious about innovation – no company is smart enough alone to navigate this new world. So we need to be open to outside influences, ideas, people and agencies. Firms need to be really clear about what they think is their core business and hence which ecosystem they need to join. Then open up – co-invent, co-create and co-produce, eg P&G and Unilever with their ‘open innovation’ orchestrators. Develop absorptive capacity. Organise open innovation calls, exploratory ‘dates’ and open contracts. Change behaviours (and change rewards – especially of top executives who Will thinks are well over-paid):
(The point about unknown unknowns is why I’m down on big data in HR – at least in aspects of this which are strategically important.)
All of this, and other factors, are causing big changes in the nature of employment and hence talent management. One of these shifts is the move to knowledge based roles which are driving improvements in the economy.
According to some economists, this is leading to the people-less economy, a world in which 50% do not work.
The remaining jobs are moving into things like micro-production, human well-being, ‘wicked’ issues and the digital world itself, from cyber security to digital clutter management!
We’re also seeing labour market flexibility morphing into indentured labour.
More in part 2…
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