Human Capital

What Is The Future of Work?

With 3 in 10 jobs in the US held by the self-employed and their sub-contractors there is no doubt that the workplace is changing. (Source)  It is hardly surprising then that 2 out of 5 (40%) of people around the world believe that traditional employment “won’t be around in the future.” Thus the most recent issue of Management Today with its feature section on “The Future of Work” makes for interesting reading.

Some of the key points it makes warrant highlighting and further comment.

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Why our approach is all wrong

Bride and Groom - 123rf.com 21173805_sLast Saturday I was privileged to be part of my niece’s wedding. It was a memorable occasion, on a beautiful sun-drenched day with joy, love, and fun extending throughout the day and the late-night dancing and celebration. Sunday, however, was different, despite being just as beautiful a day. It was as though the goodness had gone on honeymoon with the bride and groom, and, the weeks’ of planning and preparations now over, the rest of us were left feeling unfocused, flat and purposeless.

This contrast exemplifies the way our attitudes and expectations shape our experience. Nothing had really changed, yet the world felt different. It is undoubtedly a better place when love is prevalent.

Reflecting on this I started questioning why it takes a wedding to bring out all that latent goodwill, fellowship and friendship. Yes, a wedding is a formal declaration of love and common purpose between two people, but it is merely symbolic. The substance exists without it and, apart from formalising it and providing a legal and/or moral framework for the union, the ceremony intrinsically changes nothing. So why isn’t it more evident in everyday life?

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Addressing and Mastering “The Issue of Our Time”

It's happening. In the last three weeks alone, Foxconn announced it will replace 60,000 factory workers with robots, a former CEO of McDonald’s said given rising wages, the same would happen throughout their franchises, Walmart announced plans to start testing drones in its warehouses, and Elon Musk predicted fully autonomous car technology would arrive within two years.  

Artifical Intelligence 123rf.com 6383792_sWhether it's worker displacement, the skills gap, youth unemployment, or socio-economic stratification, the impact on society will be staggering. I’ve said it on multiple occasions and believe it even more so every day: creating economic opportunity will be the defining issue of our time.”

Those are the words of Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, taken from his publication of his email to all LinkedIn employees announcing the company’s acquisition by Microsoft. Like Weiner, I am concerned about the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications. Thus I am delighted by his recognition of the phenomenon and its impact. It is undoubtedly the defining issue of our time, not only because of the need to create economic opportunity but because of the dangers inherent in failing to do so effectively. 

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Mastering Change

Cameleon - symbol of natural change 123rf.com 15265487_sChange is not an unnatural phenomenon. On the contrary, it is entirely natural. Life is all about change. Evolution itself is a process of continuous change. Our emergence from primordial mud reveals a permanent push for progress, and, for humans as a species, that drive persists. Continuous improvement is not the organisational phenomenon that we have come to associate with the term. It is the fundamental law of life. It permeates everything we do.

So why do we have so much trouble dealing with change?

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Mastering “The Paradox of Being Human”


The whole conundrum around the struggle between selfishness and selflessness, with its biological roots – or what Simon Sinek calls “The Paradox of Being Human” – gives us so much more to ponder than just the innate conflict between individual and organisational objectives for which I proposed a solution last week.  The biology – summarised again in the table below – is also significant because it suggests happiness or satisfaction is situational and is therefore transient, which implies that “the pursuit of happiness” is a futile exercise: at best a fleeting goal. 

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“The Paradox of Being Human” and Its Implications in Organisations

“The Paradox of Being Human” is how Simon Sinek refers to life’s constant conflict between selfishness and selflessness: between “me” and “we.” We spend our lives vacillating between the two perspectives; zigging towards our own wants and zagging towards pleasing others. Yet our survival depends on our ability to juggle these opposite, apparently mutually-exclusive, demands. And always has.

So much so that, as I wrote last week, humans are biologically programmed for it. The table below illustrates the paradox and provides a succinct summary of this biological balancing.

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Why Employee Engagement Efforts Aren’t More Effective

In his book, “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek expounds on how the human species has been biologically programmed for survival. He describes the chemical stimulants that the body produces under different circumstances. He identifies 6 different chemical reactions and the situations in which they are produced. These are, briefly, as follows:

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Human Capital Reporting: Breaking the Impasse

A third of FTSE 100 companies are withholding vital workforce related information from their annual reports, including skills challenges and employee turnover. New research from the Valuing your Talent partnership finds that this failure to adequately communicate the value of people to business is creating a clear risk to users of these company reports, such as investors.

That was the opening paragraph to a broadcast email I received from the CIPD this morning. Feeling a flicker of hope, I downloaded the executive summary immediately. Alas, the phrase, “Including skills challenges and employee turnover” should have warned me of the kind of narrow constraints that would dash my hopes. I cannot help feel the report avoids the real issues.

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Meeting the Most Pressing Human Capital Needs

What are executives’ major concerns these days? I was grateful to get a fresh insight recently when I obtained a copy of the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to identify the trends and ascertain:

  1. What are executive management’s most pressing concerns?
  2. To what extent my ‘Every Individual Matters’ model meets those concerns?

And I am happy to report that the answers were extremely satisfying. The trends are a clear barometer of the way that organisations are changing. There was nothing surprising about them or the concerns that are driving them. They are clearly long-term changes and, as such, will reshape the organisation of the future. And my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model goes a long way to addressing nearly all of them. Let me explain why I feel so positive about this.

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Process vs. People: Closing the Divide



The Divide 46846103_sI am continuing to read Brian J Robertson's book "Holacracy" and reflecting on the ideas it introduces. It does describe what the sub-title promises: “The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy.” And, in doing so, it offers something interesting, innovative and, apparently practical. Yet, despite offering a much-needed solution to one of the major challenges of our times, I was finding myself surprisingly unexcited. Then I realised why.

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