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Change Is the Constant, Technology Is the Driving Force, and a Plan is for the People

Marian Cook

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By Marian F. Cook and Carla Bendeich


We are in an era of unprecedented change that is pushing the limits of organizations regardless of their industry and tenure. This change is driven by automation and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Internet of Things and Blockchain that are deconstructing jobs, roles, and tasks. The shift in work can unhinge the tasks related to nearly every worker's job. Yes, there have been automation waves in the past, but not at all levels, at the same time, and at this speed. Now the frequency, velocity, and impact of change have never been higher, and it is accelerating. What does that mean for how we organize our work? What is our plan for the
people?

People's jobs are defined by goals, tasks, decision making authority or autonomy and job descriptions. When tasks are shifted, automated or removed altogether, this has a direct impact on the work people expect to be performing and the decisions they make. As automation progresses, the remaining non-automated tasks and jobs will need constant reaggregation into a meaningful, productive whole.

In Malcom Gladwell 2014 best-selling book "Outliers," he states energizing work is meaningful when there is complexity, autonomy and a clear relationship between effort and reward. Organizations need to be proactive about reviewing roles and the tasks being asked of their employees in these terms or risk losing great talent, especially when automation is in play. The best news is that automation usually equates to more meaningful work as it takes away from some of the mundane tasks, or "taking the robot out of the human." However, organizations need to be planful about the new tasks employees will do when automation occurs. New work is being created. There will be a need to manage tasks that cannot be automated as well as checking the work that was automated for accuracy. Most every organization can benefit from talent that can do deep analysis on the treasure trove of data now available and growing. There will be a need to be a thoughtful plan to reskill current employees and hire new talent in this new world of work.

With change as the new constant and technology as the driving force, organizations must thoughtfully determine the work, the roles and decisions needed to keep and bring meaning to every employee, or risk losing the most competitive advantage an organization has: it's people.

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