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Reimagining the future of our organizations

The journey feels unique, because it is.

Shradha Prakash


s_madeleine_2006 via Twenty20

Context, Curiosity and Common Sense  Now is the time to rip up the rulebook and rebuild so your organization can flourish in the future ‘normal’

  • Use the Force! Future ways of working need new ways of thinking.
  • Context is key. Large organizations will have several parallel universes within them
  • Create Points of Engagement that provide an evolving framework which allows for intervention

The Future World of Work

The world of work in 2020 will often be characterized as a pitched battle between the principles of an organization’s complex and dynamic systems and the speed at which transformational change is implemented.

We all acknowledge that in the current environment business models, customer expectations and employee needs are shifting and evolving faster than ever before. However, in order to understand what’s ahead of us and to ensure we are prepared to excel in such systems, we must first shift our viewpoint. 

dariasavior via Twenty20

These days organizations are focusing on “new ways of working” to meet market expectations faster and create a new workforce experience. While that continues to be relevant, it is becoming imperative for us to reflect on “new ways of thinking” in order to fully leverage the benefits of new organizational systems. 

We don’t want to simplify a problem; we want to understand the root cause and come up with a simple and effective solution. It is important to comprehend that difference. 

As HR leaders, if we want to help the organizations transform, we need to respond in the moment, we need to solve for a problem the first time we see it, we need to think beyond committees, governance, processes and manuals. The stratagem is to simplify in order to create space for action. BUT here is the catch, simplification doesn’t mean reducing functionality, it means creating an experience that helps perceive a complex problem in a simplified manner. We don’t want to simplify a problem; we want to understand the root cause of the problem to come up with a simple and effective solution. It is important to comprehend that difference. 

tonymeyers via Twenty20

Context, Curiosity and Common Sense 

One way to simplify a transformation challenge is by understanding the context. Recognize that a large organization has several parallel universes within itself. It is crucial to have a war cry around the overall transformation story that creates a unified purpose, but the context can be drastically different from one business unit to another.

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For Example, one division may focus on innovation to create new products, while another may need to streamline supply chain for just in time delivery – two very relevant but different contexts of the same transformation. The capability required for innovation is very different from having an efficient supply chain. These differences in context demand different ways of navigating talent implications. 

NamNguyenHai via Twenty20

For one unit the talent implication could start with identifying skills of the future and devising an up-skilling/ re-skilling strategy or hiring world class talent, but for another it could start by redefining the org structure to ensure efficiency. What comes next is totally dependent on what happened in the first step, and is not dictated by following a playbook, slide by slide. Just like in a game of chess, after three moves, the possible variations of the moves are over 9 million. Same is true for talent implications during transformation. By design, the talent journey for every context is supposed to be unique. 

The Points of Engagement 

This thinking was the genesis for the “six points of engagement”. The Points of Engagement is the overarching framework for our Future of Work. It helps create focus for talent interventions in alignment with the transformation. 

These points help HR teams facilitate complex discussions around talent transformation by providing the flexibility to meet the business where they are. Whether they want to solve for innovation or for scale, whether it is to hire right talent or up-skill existing people, the “engagement points” ensure that there is alignment with business context and work outcomes, rather than just running an intervention. 

“Re-imagining jobs” is one such point of engagement where we help the business create a new role to support the new organizational context. When we re-imagine jobs for the future, it could be the first step in order to create an organizational capability or it could be done later down the road after an up-skilling effort. 

AJ Colores via Unsplash

“Workforce Strategy” is yet another point of engagement where we define the talent roadmap for the business. Intuitively one may consider this as the first step for talent transformation, but in some context, it is better to do a high-level re-structuring and/ or skills assessment first to understand the lay of the land and then create a workforce strategy. 

The context drives our choices and the approach. There are no easy answers, but we can simplify our choices. 

Don’t fret if you think you are going around in circles, because it is iterative. 

The role of HR is changing, it is becoming integrator of business contexts and translating that into talent transformation. Help the business leaders chart out what their transformation journey should look like, please don’t hand them a manual or a toolkit.  

Don’t worry if the journey into the future feels unique, because it is. 

Don’t fret if you think you are going around in circles, because it is iterative. 

Don’t worry if it doesn’t feel rock solid from the start, because it is supposed to be evolving. 

Prioritize outcomes, lead boldly and utilize data intelligently. Think about what would be your “points of engagement” as you initiate the conversations on talent transformation with your business and… march on. 

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