IN AN AGE OF INCREASING DIGITALISATION AND AUTOMATION WHERE DO MANAGERS FIT INTO THE WORKFORCE, AND HOW WILL MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES HAVE TO ADAPT TO THE NEW WORKING LANDSCAPE
The dark side of digitalhas been explored, with worries of mounting performance pressure, increasing pace of change and the inability to predict extreme events, like the financial crash, through reliance upon big data and statistics instead of tempering the results with an element of healthy scepticism.
We naturally worry that companies can micromanage their workforce, using digital tools to beat them up,but also we realise that tools and technology can be used to empower, free imagination and encourage trust and collaboration as well.
Which will triumph?
Perhaps – and only perhaps – this will become self-fulfilling. After all, where do you want to work, -do you want to work with a company that will micromanage you, rank you every year and sack you if you fail ever higher standards? And if your company treats you like that, you must wonder how it treats its customers. It’s unlikely to be much of a mismatch. Will that company have a long-term future, given that scenario? Or will market forces produce an imperative towards a more empowering regime?
Expertise is no longer ownedby experts – we use Google for that. It’s very elegant model described by Bill Fischer who shows expertise is bounded in integrity and self orientation – a trust model. We use this in our practice, encouraging client learnings as that produces better questions which lead to answers which clients find more useful. Transferring knowledge isn’t a bar to revenue growth – rather the reverse. And it certainly builds trust.
And we can’t use digital as an excuse to draw back from people –networks aren’t communities– we still need to build trust and collaborate face-to-face. Digital is about communication which is not the same as collaboration. Henry Mintzberg considers the development of community in organisations is probably more important than leadership now.
So how can we find ways of developing trust and collaboration, if this is our way forward in our new digital world? It’s easy to develop ever richer maps, but they can obscure just as much as inform through a plethora of data. We need to develop our own sense of knowledge management by scaling learning rather than scaling efficiency. We need to keep up-to-date, collaborate to build trust, which in turn reinforces the community as respect and relevance builds. Then digital is a tool like any other – not something that takes away our humanity, but allows us time to explore it and free our imagination.
Which will triumph? Will we create a dystopia, where machines dehumanise us, or will we use machines to free us to embrace our humanity?
The scene is set for a fascinating discussion at the Forum. If you can’t attend, you can register for the free live video stream. And check back for the blogs which follow the Forum.