Staying Ahead When the Future of Work is Gaining on Us

“Those who fail to adapt will fail to survive,” asserted Michael Fenlon, Chief People Officer of PwC in his kickoff presentation at Future Workplace’s Annual Fall CLO Summit at Infor’s headquarters in New York City on October 11, 2018. And, so the tone was set. It’s an overwhelming time to be an L&D, HR, or talent leader in a VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. In fact, it’s an overwhelming time to be in the workforce, period.

Five primary themes engaged approximately 125 senior HR, IT, and corporate learning practitioners over the course of the 1 ½ day Summit.

  • The forces that are impacting the future of work, such as big data, AI, VR and AR, gamification, adaptive learning, and social learning are changing how we think about and plan for every aspect of HR and talent development.
  • The digital revolution hasn’t yet improved our business productivity over the industrial revolution, yet we still believe in digital as the great enabler. The complexity of technological options is making CLOs start to feel like CIOs. Reporting structures are shifting as more innovation, analytics, strategy, and design is expected out of Learning & Development.
  • Personalization of a targeted, consumerized, employee-centered experience has tremendous implications for talent acquisition and talent management. The possibilities of a fully automated and deeply personalized recruiting and onboarding experience are very real and quite overwhelming. It has never been more important to maintain a squeaky clean digital profile!
  • A growing multi-channel workforce and the rise of self-led teams. As the diversity of our global workforce explodes beyond the traditional full-time employee and now includes more freelancers, contractors, joint ventures, remote employees, and even robots, hiring, staffing, and training and development need to be completely reshaped.
  • Developing and engaging leaders at all levels is as crucial to talent retention as it is to attracting talent. Although 69% of employers say they prefer job candidates with digital and data skills, they are also demanding that modern learners and leaders have the appropriate ‘soft skills’ and other critical skills like collaboration, coaching, teamwork, design thinking, innovation, etc. Stakes are high for upskilling and progressive companies are committing to NELB (No Employee Left Behind, my new phrase) and fostering cultures of perpetual learning.

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Kelly Bean, President, and CEO of Darden Executive Education, who presented on ‘Why the Modern Global Leader?’ Kelly led a discussion on the roles that the ‘modern global leader’ needs to play in order to be successful in our increasingly uncertain and incredibly fast-paced business environment. Based on feedback from CLOs, CHROs, business, and line leaders, she and her team are advancing their thinking around the ‘role’ and the mindset of the modern leader vs purely ‘skills’ and ‘competencies.’  She introduced the concept of the ‘Frontier Roles’ (the digital innovator and growth catalyst) and the ‘Leadership Roles’ (the learner, the activist, the collaborator) as is laid out in the presentation below.

A heady, inspiring, and yes, somewhat overwhelming few days in NYC. Thanks, Future Workplace team!