As I see things like data analytics, artificial intelligence, and metrics become more prominent in our workplaces and our home lives, I’m left to wonder about our humanity and whether we are losing sight of that special human something that separates us from the machines.
If you follow the headlines about technology and the future of work, you’re probably starting to get a little nervous. At best, you’re worried that you’ll have to find a new job in a higher-skilled field and maybe have to go back to school or retrain. At worst, you’re imagining a dystopian future where automation and artificial intelligence have left us all unemployed and under the rule of robotic overlords.
I’ve made it a hobby to analyze the leadership qualities of characters in various television shows and movies. I know, it’s a bit strange, but I just do it without thinking. Game of Thrones is a fascinating show to follow, full of complex characters and numerous factions with different cultures, leaders, and leadership styles. Over the past six seasons we have seen plenty of leaders rise and fall and make a LOT of mistakes across the lands of Westeros and Essos. It’s an intriguing study – even if it is a fictional universe – for people interested in leadership, and George R. R. Martin and the show’s writers paint fascinating portraits of people vying for the Iron Throne.
When we think of innovation we often picture a group of twenty-somethings in jeans and flip-flops working in a small startup in Silicon Valley. We don’t immediately picture a large, global corporation or a government agency, but they may be even better suited than startups to innovate. Even the largest and most bureaucratic organizations came into existence with some innovation at some point and can learn to recapture that youthful spark with a few simple steps.
It’s the tool we all hate but can’t seem to live without. We check our personal and work inboxes incessantly throughout the day and dream of reaching that impossible nirvana of “inbox zero.” Email has become an integral part of our lives, but some are beginning to question its merits. A few companies have even attempted to ban it completely for internal correspondence. Email has become such an essential tool that we have to wonder if it is even possible to replace it. What would even take its place? It may not be viable with a single solution, but with the maturation of social and collaboration tools in the enterprise and rethinking customer touchpoints it could be possible to at least minimize email tyranny and possibly even end it entirely.
Digital transformation is all the rage these days. Those two words are on the tongues of CEOs, CIOs, academics, and even bloggers who know nothing about the topic. Organizations seem to understand they should do it, and some may even have a vague understanding of the benefits of doing so. However, many don’t know where or how to start, or – even worse – focus solely on implementing technology. A true digital transformation is about people and processes, not just fancy new tech. Applying basic change management principles and taking a holistic organizational viewpoint will help ease the digital transformation journey.
The 7th Global Drucker Forum explored the theme of “Claiming Our Humanity – Managing in the Digital Age.” The issue of leading and engaging a workforce in our highly technological digital society is one I ponder and deal with regularly, so it was only natural that I make the journey to pasty- and coffee-fueled Vienna to hear the leading thinkers from business, academia, and many other disciplines tackle this subject. The issue of technology in our homes, workplaces, and communities is largely ignored by the general public, but it affects all of us more than we think.