In this episode of “LDS On,” CEO Mimi Brooks presents the first in a two part special edition of material extracted from her recent presentation, “Accelerate Organizational Performance by Advancing Human Capability,” from the 2021 HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. In part I, Mimi discusses how digitalization, globalization and the climate agenda are front and center even as workers strive to continually adapt their human-only skills in an emerging world of algorithms and machines. With these disruptive economic, political, and social forces as the defining backdrop in this early stage of the 4IR, human adaptability becomes the focus of operating models and the key to transformative growth strategies.
Welcome to the 12th video in a series of LDS thought-leadership dedicated to the discussion of transformation management. In each video, we address a topic of strategic interest to business leaders who are guiding their organizations through transformative change.
This is the first in a two-part series that focuses on Accelerating Organizational Performance by Advancing Human Capability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s extracted from a talk that I delivered recently at the annual HR Tech conference in Las Vegas, NV.
In this first video, I’ll will discuss how digitalization, globalization and the climate agenda are front and center even as workers strive to continually adapt their human-only skills in an emerging world of algorithms and machines. With these disruptive economic, political, and social forces as the defining backdrop in this early stage of the 4IR, human adaptability becomes the focus of our operating models and the key to our transformative growth strategies.
So, this is LDS On: Moving from Capacity to Capability in the 4IR. Let’s get started…
As the New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman wrote in his Thank You for Being Late book, “Later is over”. This is a particularly apt statement when we apply it to the second wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is changing the business world as we know it at breathtaking speed.
We live in an era where the pace of change is so fast that workers must constantly adjust to their environment using skills that were largely not needed by employers during earlier industrial revolutions. Today, the 4IR demands that workers create new value through adaptation and capability. Digital age leaders must create new market spaces that will require them to form relationships with ecosystem partners. They’ll need to energize highly productive, autonomous teams. And to be successful, they’ll boldly pursue new organizational and cultural systems that break down hierarchies to support rapid and exponential growth models.
To win in the digital age, technology alone is not enough. As we’re already experiencing, organizations will also need to address critical societal and environmental issues that, together with digitalization, are creating the new “dynamic stability” that we find as our new normal. Let’s look at each of these attributes in a little more detail as the backdrop to Organizational Change and Adaptation is best understood in the context of digital transformation.
What was once the basis of science fiction, as the futurist Gerd Leonard suggests, is now becoming scientific fact. You’ve heard the prediction that change in the next 10 years will be greater than the change we’ve seen in the last 50 or more years.
Much of this tremendous velocity of change is due to the non-linear, exponential, and combinatorial innovation of digital technologies.
For companies to survive and thrive in this environment, they’ll need to pursue velocity in decision-making – both machine and human – which requires having a lot of high quality and user-generated data to mine into well-curated and highly contextual insights and learnings. These insights, in turn, enable fast response to patterns or trends – a capability that’s needed for marketplace agility and adaptability. Along with the right human capital who continually learn, imagine and breakthrough obstacles, the organization becomes “digital at its core”.
Our global village is now built on digital foundations. Organizations can acquire top quality skilled talent and engage them from any corner of the world. Social platforms and their communities now exceed the size of many countries in total membership. And, today’s mobile broadband creates so many digital flows, that we’re able to engage brains from around the world to contribute their ideas and innovations.
While there are clearly geo-political and policy challenges, digital global social, commerce and data flows will continue to grow, making us a more connected and interdependent world.
Climate change is the third critical dimension of the digital transformation backdrop. As global environmental forums such as COP26 engage governments to commit to decarbonization targets and to deliver on financial commitments, business is setting its paths to net-zero. These Climate Transition plans are in full swing and while promising, can also be disappointing as their timeframes can be longer than desired to confidently curb planetary catastrophes.
Data is a problem here. A lack of carbon accounting and reporting following a bespoke, standard framework for industries creates challenges for the growing number of ESG-sensitive investors, workers, consumers, and citizens who want transparency and clarity from businesses on these commitments.
Digital transformation, then, is the aggregate impact of these forces — advanced digital technologies converge with each other and with humans, redefining the purpose and value of human work. Globalization and its interconnected nature bleeds across borders, opening-up new markets and rewarding disruptive innovators often with low costs of entry. The “ticking” environmental crisis draws governments, businesses, workers, and citizens into a critical core dialogue with a short fuse. And this transformation is minimally accelerated by COVID.
Disruption and change on a massive scale, creating a dynamic and fluid environment for business, who must either bend or break.
This is the backdrop that compels companies to dramatically change their business strategy to compete. Continual adaptation and resiliency are key to survival. Leaders think less about competing in an industry and more about winning in a horizontal, sprawling ecosystem. Purpose, people, and culture drive the very core of the business, necessarily and by design. Organizations shift practices from those previously designed to drive productivity, to those that cultivate new ways of working and inspire human potential in flatter structures that operate very close to customers.
Workers, in response, must change their value proposition as well. Adaptability is critical to employability and viability. This requires learning new behaviors and changing mindsets to better align to those ideas that are “fit for future”. To be relevant, workers will understand the value that they offer relative to the new value creation needed in digital-first business and operating models.
Finally, leadership is a must-have catalyst to realizing organizational and human adaptation. Leaders will inspire the workforce to embrace inevitable cultural changes by empowering individuals and teams to cultivate growth mindsets. They’ll support a dynamic, self-directed learning environment that includes a clear mandate to upskill the workforce and create organizational capabilities that are aligned to both quantum leaps in technological capabilities, and the irreplaceable value of human ingenuity and creativity.
In summary, the contemporary worker’s ability to adapt to and flourish in an environment of rapid change, as well as collaborate seamlessly with ever more powerful machine counterparts, is crucial to business success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By putting people, culture, and new work design at the center of our dynamic business models while removing bureaucratic layers that block the free flow of ideas, we tap into the universal human endeavor to be dissatisfied with the status quo and to creatively search for what’s next.
Logical Design Solutions (LDS) is a digital strategy and design consultancy to global enterprises. We create experiences that transform business and help people work successfully in the new digital organization. Clients come to LDS because of our reputation for intellectual rigor, our foundation in visionary experience strategy, and our commitment to enabling digital transformation inside the enterprise. Learn More about how LDS has dramatically improved the way that some of the largest corporations in the world do business.