Mon, 27 February 2017
Enrico Moretti is a professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. His research covers the fields of labor economics and urban economics. Professor Moretti’s book, “The New Geography of Jobs”, was awarded the William Bowen Prize for the most important contribution toward understanding public policy and the labor market.
His research has been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Atlantic, Businessweek, The Economist, The New Republic, CNN, PBS and NPR. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and the son.
When considering the overall ‘health’ of the US economy, Professor Moretti believes that it is generally good. Compared to the time period of the great recession, job creation has picked up. Additionally, within the last six months, wages have picked up. When asked about how to assess the ‘health’ of the economy, he suggests that rather than look at day-to-day changes, such as the media, focus on the yearly changes. That gives a more realistic perspective.
Overall, American’s with a high school diploma have found their wages reduced by 20% and are less well off than the previous generation. On the other hand, those with associate’s college degrees or above– are doing better each passing year. This includes their standard of living, not only salaries but future outlook, their overall assets, and even their marital stability. This has created significant differences in earnings between those with more education and those with less. In fact, 30 years ago, it was less than a 40% spread; now it’s more than double – at 80%.
For the past 30 years the US has been losing 350,000 blue collar positions in manufacturing per year. A change that is not just a US phenomenon, but is also found in other advanced countries – such as Japan and Germany. This has been predominantly based on increased automation in factories
Automation – robots, artificial intelligence – has had a profound effect on jobs. The new technology and automation have changed the face of jobs in manufacturing plants. Fewer people are required and instead of blue collar workers, they are highly skilled engineers. This change has lead to an increased need for higher skilled workers.
When asked about the US cities that have undergone the most amount of change in the past 30 years, Moretti cited three that have had positive transformations: Austin, Texas, Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina and Seattle, Washington. Each of these has become an area of global innovation, has an availability of an excellent work force and also provides high wages.
In contrast, those he sees struggling are found in the ‘rust-belt’. For example, Detroit and Flint, Michigan as well as Rochester, New York, which have lost population due to a reduction in the need for traditional manufacturing jobs and therefore, lower wages and innovation.
Specifically, Moretti has found that the US can be divided into ‘three Americas’.
1. American Brain Hubs – strong workers with more than 40% of the population which holds a college degree. These include cities such as Boston, New York City and San Francisco. These cities are productive, innovative and provide higher salaries.
2. Former Manufacturing – struggling, shrunk in size, lost in terms of aggregate population.
3. Neither Brain Hub nor Former Manufacturing – maintaining current productivity and fairly stable population
What you will learn in this episode:
Mon, 20 February 2017
Michael Dawisha has been the CIO in the division of Residential and Hospitality Services of Michigan State University for over eight years. He has previously been the CIO of a large medical non-profit organization.
As the global trend toward travel and distant communication continues, businesses are finding themselves competing with a greater number of potential employers. Talented employees are pursued and leadership is forced to make decisions that will effect if these employees stick around.
With a global trend toward technology, how does a large non-profit organization like a university keep their employees while a world of options and bigger offers await? What works and what needs to change to keep up with the new age work force?
Michael Dawisha notes the observable change from recruits being hired in with the expectation of being around for a full career. He wants the most talented employees on his team and he now has to consider the quality of life in his region compared to the world for the 1000 full time employees and up to 7000 part time employees that are a part of his division. Because Michigan State is a University, their focus is on education not profit. This forces talent retention tactics to go beyond the standard pay raise. Dawisha talks about treating people like gold. Instead of viewing management from top to bottom, you build an organization by keeping the employees happy. While Dawisha says this technique has been working well now, he acknowledges that businesses will need to adjust for a future with shorter stays by employees.
One specific technique that is used at MSU is to get people involved in projects outside their core work functions. You might find a web programmer helping design the new room in the organization's dining area. This allows participants to get a first hand experience to the culture of participation and diversity at the organization. Its during the end presentations that you can tell everyone involved was honored to be volunteered, happy to participate, and proud of their work. The programs that people are a part of help enforce the idea that they are making an impact at the company and in the world. This opportunity for remarkable input is in-tune with the desires and beliefs of the young emerging work force.
In addition to the techniques that have been tried and tested- Dawisha mentions using the data gained from their own people analytics. With new technology the personal bias can be taken away from the data collection and better informed decisions can be made. The increase in technology has also opened up new avenues of study, in one case suggesting Dawisha observe the correlation between area code of the employees and the longevity of their tenure. The technology increases help guide Dawisha's decision making, but compared to other organizations that might be for-profit the education industry is behind
To adjust for the future Dawisha talks about becoming nimble. Instead of reacting to employee offers from other organizations, be proactive- cut down on the number of employees seeking other job offers. Employees often are rooted and are not looking for a reason to change their living situation, Dawisha handles these events on a case by case basis- proving that relationships is still a big part of talent retention.
What you will learn in this episode:
Link From The Episode:
Mon, 13 February 2017
Devin Fidler is the Research Director at the Institute for the Future and the Founder of Rethinkery Labs, a software defined organization that specializes in developing technologies to automate management.
Automation is definitely a hot topic these days and it is one that sits at the forefront of many discussions around the future of work. There are mainly two camps of people in this topic of discussion. There are those who feel that automation is inevitable and that while it will take some human jobs, it will also create a lot more human jobs and therefore won’t be as scary as it seems. They also believe that automation won’t take over as many jobs as some experts are predicting. The other group is made up of people who believe that there is no stopping the takeover and that automation will take over a majority of jobs and humans will be displaced.
Fidler believes that automation will definitely disrupt traditional jobs, however, he says it is not all negative. He says one of the real issues is that we really need to reevaluate what we define as jobs. We are likely to see more work for humans, but it’s the jobs themselves that will be the issue. With automation, finding work can become much easier as software will help match up humans to the right task, which means you can spend more time doing the work you love to do. It can also help smooth out the training process and make it more individualized to the employee. Fidler feels that “the [human] jobs question is important, but it’s not as apocalyptic as it’s sometimes framed”. Automation is not the end of human jobs, although it may change the way things like benefits, career progression and retirement are structured.
Up until now automation has really been seen as something that would takeover jobs like cashiers, bankers and factory workers. But Fidler talks about how software is moving into the C-suite and management roles. One example of this is Uber, where they are automating middle management. Today Uber is the third largest company in the U.S. (based on number of employees), right after Walmart and McDonalds. When you look at traditional taxi services the employees report to dispatchers. They rely on the dispatchers to tell them where to go and when, which routes to avoid and for help when they have vehicle issues. Now Uber has automated this process. Uber uses software to route their drivers, schedule pick-ups and even perform employee evaluations.
There is another company that Fidler mentioned that has AI on the board. For every investment decision they have all the board members weigh in and give their opinions on what to do. In this company they have given one of the board seats to an AI program that allows the software to weigh in and give a vote on each investment as well.
So how fast will this shift in our workforce take place? Fidler says we are already seeing a select few companies taking this move towards automating management, so in theory, it’s already here. But it will take some time before it becomes widespread and mainstream. A good guess would be in the next 10 years. Fidler talks about how much change we have seen in the past 10 years; smartphones, Watson, and self-driving car prototypes. Think of how much our world could change in just 10 more years.
In this shift towards a day when software could run the company, Fidler gives advice he feels can span across all levels of workers from newly hired employees in their first job up to heads of organizations who have been there for 30+ years. He says, “you can’t take any momentum and previous advantages that this part of the world has had for granted. It is a new game where rewards will go to those who figure out what the new logic looks like”. You cannot stay complacent and think that you will be safe from automation. It is also important for us to have these conversations now, about what we want the future of work to look like and what we want these automated programs to do while it is in the early stage. Fidler says, “the Industrial Revolution really favored the U.S., if we want the same kind of thing we have to do it deliberately, it can’t be by accident”.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode:
Tue, 24 January 2017
This week’s guest is Yuval Noah Harari, author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Join us as we discuss topics such as the major threats that the human race is facing, how virtual reality is similar to religion and what the future of life is going to look like in 150-200 years.
Yuval Noah Harari is a historian, a tenured professor at the Department of History of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a bestselling author. Harari’s most recent book is, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. The book explores the opportunities and dangers humankind faces in this century and beyond.
Harari has always been one to ask questions and seek out reasons why things are the way they are. He has never just accepted the way we do things, but instead he enjoys digging further to see where his questions about life lead him. Harari believes that most of the big questions in life lead you across a wide variety of disciplines including biology, religion, history, economics and politics in order to find answers.
He began college by studying Medieval military history, however while he was in an Intro to History class he decided to abandon his narrow niche and decided to explore history more broadly. It was out of this class that he decided to write his first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. In that book he took a look back over the last 70,000 years to show how homo sapiens have evolved over time. After he completed that book he wanted to write another book that explored the 21st century and beyond to look at what “opportunities and dangers humankind is facing in the 21st century and what is the possible future of our species”.
Harari says one of the biggest questions he is asking about the future is, “what are we going to do with ourselves?”. In the past humans have been preoccupied by overcoming three main things in life; famine, plagues and war. But in the 21st century we have been able to control these three elements to a certain extent. Harari states, “More people die from eating too much, than eating too little these days” and says there are more people who commit suicide than there are people who are dying in wars. Of course, he doesn’t deny that there are people who are starving, people who are dying from war and people who are dying from diseases. But these people are not dying because there isn’t enough food or medicine to go around; they are dying in political famines, wars and plagues.
How did we get to this point where we have these three main elements fairly under control? There are two main answers, science and technology. Due to both science and technology we have advances in medicine, food productivity and disbursement and education that have helped with famine and plagues. War, however, is a different story. As Harari mentions, “we don’t have a device that stops war”. Technology did play a part in decreasing war with the move towards nuclear weapons which changed the way the “superpowers” interacted with each other. Humankind also aided in the reduction in violence by “rising up to the challenge technology presented us with”, as Harari explains.
Harari also believes there are threats to our future including climate change and global warming and a disruptive potential of new technology (such as AI and Virtual Reality). One disruption, Harari says, is that new technology could “outperform humans in tasks and push hundreds of millions of people out of the job market” which would in turn create “a class of useless people”. Another disruption is bioengineering and how humans are manipulating “the world inside of us”.
We are used to hearing about people using bioengineering to manipulate plants and animals, but using this concept inside of our own bodies is something new that could have huge consequences if we don’t proceed wisely. There are three main ways that Harari says people can manipulate our internal realities. One is bioengineering where we “tweak” our bodies and brains. A second way would be to combine “old organic bodies with new inorganic parts”, like connecting a person’s brain to a computer and allowing them to use their mind to search something on the internet. The third way Harari mentions is a “creation of completely inorganic entities”, such as uploading human consciousness to a computer. If this third one takes place, Harari says it will be “the greatest revolution in history and biology”.
When it comes to the hot topic of AI and automation taking over human jobs, Harari says he believes that this shift in our economy will both create and take over jobs; the question is how quickly will each side progress? Will more jobs be created quicker than AI and automation can take over or vice versa? The fact is that humans have always had two abilities; physical abilities and mental abilities. Machines took over in the roles that require physical strength in the Industrial Revolution, but now machines are evolving to be able to take over the mental abilities as well. So we as humans have to learn to adapt in order to stay relevant in the workplace.
You may think that the topics we discuss in this podcast, such as bioengineering inorganic entities, AI taking over and leaving a useless class of humans or the ability of machines to read and remember human emotions while reading a book, are too futuristic or sci-fi. But I believe that science fiction gives us a good glimpse into our future. And in the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe these concepts are too far off in the future.
What you will learn in this episode:
Link From The Episode:
Wed, 18 January 2017
In this podcast we take a look back on some of the interviews I did in 2016 and listen to some of the past guests talk about key issues they feel are shaping the workplace of the future.
In 2016 I had a lot of great conversations with a wide variety of senior leaders. Last week I took a look back on the 2016 podcast interviews and discussed six lessons I learned from my guests last year. This week I wanted to let the guests speak for themselves, so I gathered up some highlight clips from last year’s podcast interviews and put them into one podcast mashup.The subjects range from how innovation is changing to automation and AI to the six reasons why we work.
The first interview I looked back on was the one with Jeff Wong, the Global Chief Innovation Officer at EY. In our discussion we talked about innovation during a disruptive era and one of the main points was about how innovation is changing. Wong said he believes that innovation is changing a lot and it is really driving companies to think about themselves differently. Companies are now forced to pay attention to things like training, environmental and community impact and inclusive capitalism in order to be successful. Wong says companies need to think about whether they are “training a workforce for the future, or are you training a workforce to do the function of today”. He believes that his job as a Chief Innovation Officer requires him to “do old things in new ways”.
One of the fascinating topics I touched on with a few guests last year, was the subject of People Analytics and how it is revolutionizing the way we think about employee experience. Ben Waber, the President and CEO of Humanyze, talked to me about what makes up people analytics. He said that while survey data is useful, “it is not data about behavior, it is data about perception”. Because you cannot survey people every single day, you lose the ability to accurately get a picture of the day to day workings of your office. With People Analytics you are able to get real world data in real time which allows you to fix issues as you go instead of waiting for the end of the year.
Ellyn Shook, the Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer at Accenture, talked about the problem with annual employee reviews which points to why the topic of people analytics is so important for the success of a company. She says the problem with annual reviews is just that; they are only done once a year. She says “very little works in annual cycles anymore”. We are a society that is used to immediate feedback, so telling employees to wait a year to see how they are doing at work is not realistic. Shook says that her company realized that they were putting a lot of time and effort into their annual reviews, but they were receiving very little value from them because they “spent too much time talking about their people, instead of talking to the people”. In order to get the best results you need “forward looking, real time and on demand” data and feedback for your employees.
Employee experience was another hot topic I discussed with several guests last year. Some of the guests who touched on the subject were Monika Fahlbusch, the Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software, Francine Katsoudas, the Senior Vice President and Chief People
Officer at Cisco and Karyn Twaronite, the Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer at EY. In our discussions we defined what employee experience is, how large companies are able to scale employee experience across a wide range of languages, locations and cultures, and the importance of focusing on diversity and inclusiveness. Fahlbusch says that to create employee experience you first must listen to your employees. Your employees will help you find the overarching problems, or “pain points” if you learn how to listen to them. You also need to look at your individual company and figure out what experiences you should be focusing on. To do that you need to understand things about your company such as what are your values, what are you trying to celebrate, where are you trying to go in the future?
Katsoudas talked about scaling employee experience across hundreds of countries and thousands of employees. She says Cisco’s belief is “one size fits one”, meaning they understand that the ideal employee experience in India will not be the same as that in England or the US and that’s okay.
Twaronite gave an example of why it is so important for senior leaders of companies to not just list out the available benefits for employees, but they should also be role models who walk the walk. She shared a story about the EY Chairman and CEO, who was giving the keynote for a company wide event, and during his speech he apologized to everyone and explained that he would be leaving the event early in order to honor a commitment he made to his daughter. In doing this he was transparent, authentic and helped employees feel that the work flexibility benefit was not just a bunch of empty words.
One subject that I am always fascinated with is technology dealing with robots, AI and automation. Three guests I spoke with who got into this topic of discussion were Robin Hanson, Thomas Davenport and Mihir Shukla.
Robin Hanson, who is the author of “The Age of Em”, the Associate professor of Economics at George Mason University and the Research Associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, spoke about the extremely futuristic topic of what an Em is. Hanson discusses the fact that there are two different scenarios that could happen to get us to a point where we have robots that are as smart as humans. One way would be to “slowly write and accumulate better software on faster and cheaper machines”. This is what we are doing now and if we continued on this path it would take several centuries to reach this point. Another way would be to port the “software” from our brains into an Em. If we find a way to do this, the Em age could happen within one century.
Thomas Davenport talks about how there are two camps of people today, those who are opposed to the move towards automation and those who are embracing it. The people who are opposed are scared about the implications of automating jobs. They feel that this shift in our economy will create chaos and wipe out jobs for humans. The camp of people who are embracing it feel that automating certain jobs could be a good thing and that we will always find a way to create new jobs for humans. Davenport believes that reality is somewhere in between the two camps.
Mihir Shukla talks about how software bots can complete mundane tasks, and also tackle more complicated problems as well. Many employers want their workers to complete today’s problems while thinking about tomorrow’s challenges using yesterdays technologies and approaches. Processing invoices, verifying documents, generating reports, data entry, and other mundane tasks still need to be completed, but by humans or bots? Introducing mundane and complex tasks to the digital workforce allows the human employees to think, create, discover, and innovate; basically doing things that humans do best.
Other subjects that are touched on in this episode include recruiting millennials, whether or not open workspaces are the next best thing, how to identify a Superboss, the six reasons why we work, how to drive behavior change and entrepreneurs vs. freelancers.
Looking back at the guests from this last year it is easy to see that there are a lot of changes happening in the workplace and I am excited to see where we go from here. I am working on lining up a great list of podcast guests for this year, so be sure to stay tuned and keep listening to the weekly future of work podcast!
Tue, 10 January 2017
Join me as I take a look back on six lessons I’ve learned about the future of work from my podcast guests over the last year.
We are moving into a new year and I am excited to see what podcast guests we will have and the things we will learn about the future of work. I wanted to take a moment to look back over the 53 published podcasts of 2016 to discuss six lessons I learned from my guests this past year.
The first lesson I learned in 2016 is that we should be thinking of our organizations more like a laboratory and less like a factory. Over the past year I have had some great guests including the Chief HR Officer of Accenture, the Chief Innovation Officer at EY, and the President and CEO of Humanyze and all of my guests have been very honest in saying they don’t know everything. They understand that in order to be successful they have to treat their organizations like laboratories where they allow for testing, exploring, adaptation and innovation. They also embrace failure in order to learn from their mistakes.
The second lesson I learned from my guests is that the future of work doesn’t happen to you or to your organization, it happens because of you or because of your organization. We need to understand that the future of work is not its own entity that we cannot control, it is something that we collectively create. We design it, build it, manifest it and implement it. Our organizations need to play a more active role in the future of work.
The third lesson learned this year is that there are big changes happening to the employee/employer relationship. The relationship has to evolve with the growth of the gig economy, more flexible work arrangements and the changing demographics in the workplace. Employers have to be aware of the changes in the workforce and they must adapt accordingly. It is also vital for employers to understand their organization and their people when making changes instead of blindly copying what other organizations are doing.
Lesson number four is that technology seems to be taking centerstage. Technology is affecting everyone across the board--human resources, management, sales, IT, etc… We are seeing things like virtual reality, people analytics, AI and automation, collaboration tools and wearable devices. It is important to mention, though, that technology is just a vehicle. Just because you have technology does not mean you will necessarily achieve anything. You have to know what technology will work for your company and how to best implement it. This also ties into lesson number one, treating your organization like a laboratory and allowing things to be tested.
The fifth lesson deals with employee experience vs. employee engagement. We have seen a huge growth in companies paying attention to employee engagement. Never before have we seen such an investment into employee engagement. The problem is, never before have we seen employee engagement levels so low. This stems from the fact that people do not realize that employee engagement is the effect, but we are not paying enough attention to the cause. The cause of employee engagement is employee experience. Employee experience has three basic elements that go into it; cultural environment, technological environment and physical environment. By investing in these three environments companies can create a better employee experience, which will in turn, create better employee engagement. And the foundation of employee experience is people analytics.
The final lesson I am going to touch on is that organizations seem to have a cautious optimism about the future of work. There has been a lot of talk about AI replacing jobs, political challenges, issues with globalization, etc…Basically, there is a lot of doom and gloom out there when talking about the future. But there is hope in the cautious optimism that I have seen among my 2016 guests. Most of them have expressed a desire to proceed into the future believing in positive outcomes while still preparing for challenges. Taking AI and automation for example, a lot of my guests believe that more jobs will be created than destroyed. They are, however, taking precautions such as retraining and educating their workforce in order to equip them with new skills that will help them stay relevant in this changing world.
Overall this has been a very insightful year for the future of work podcast. I had so many great guests and we touched on a lot of vitally important topics. I truly hope that you all learned a lot along the way as well. I look forward to sharing more of my conversations with senior level leaders as we discuss the future of work.
Tue, 3 January 2017
I am a big fan of stories, so this week I am trying something new for the podcast. The following story is about a well known business leader. Try to figure out who it is before the end of the story where I reveal who it is.
This young boy was born in 1971 in South Africa. All through school he was bullied and picked on for various reasons. At one point the bullying became so bad that he was thrown down a flight of stairs and he had to be hospitalized.
In order to escape his harsh reality, this young boy turned his attention to space and computers and he combined the two to create a unique space themed computer game. In order to create the game he taught himself how to code at the age of 10. He finished creating his first PC game at the age of 12 and he sold this game for $500 to PC and Office Technology Magazine.
At the age of 19 he began college where he studied dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Business and Physics. While in college he ran into money problems and had to get creative in order to make ends meet. At one point in time he turned his house into a weekend night club in order to make some money. While his fellow students partied downstairs, this young man was upstairs playing video games. He graduated with his dual Bachelor’s Degrees and then attempted to get his PhD from Stanford, but he dropped out after only 2 days in the program.
From there he went on to start a company with his brother, Kimbal, which they ended up selling for millions of dollars four years later. He was also able to create and sell a money transfer service to Ebay for 1.5 million. After all of this time this man found that he was still extremely interested in space. He traveled the world looking for a way to get involved in a space program, however he ended up coming to the conclusion that it would be easier if he started his own space company. Therefore SpaceX was created.
Of course, you may know by now that this story is about none other than Elon Musk, the founder, current CEO and CTO of SpaceX and the co-founder, current CEO and architect of Tesla Motors.
Mon, 26 December 2016
Dee Ann Turner is the Vice President of Enterprise Social Responsibility for Chick-fil-A. She was previously the Vice President of Corporate Talent at Chick-fil-A for 16 years. She is the author of a book called, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and A Compelling Culture. Chick-fil-A is a fast-food restaurant based out of Atlanta with over 2,000 locations all over the U.S. They have 100,000 team members including 1,600 in their corporate offices.
Corporate culture is one of the most important aspects of an organization and it is a major topic of discussion nowadays. One company that is getting corporate culture right is Chick-fil-A. The original founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, believed that Chick-fil-A was “not in the chicken business, but in the people business” and the way he developed and lead the company was a true testament to that belief. Cathey advised Turner to remember that, “people decisions are the most important decisions we can make”.
Chick-fil-A has steadily increased in sales every year and their retention rates are phenomenal, which is rare for the fast food industry. They have franchisees from ages 19 to 80 with very diverse backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. They state that their purpose is, “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Chick-fil-A has a very unique corporate culture and it really focuses on building up and investing in their employees. They truly are a company whose focus is on people, both the employees and the customers.
Turner explains that Chick-fil-A incorporates one thing as an umbrella over everything that they do and that is the idea that they care about people personally. “Employees and guests are not just a name, they are a story and people know their story”. She says that Chick-fil-A employees celebrate milestones in each other’s lives. They throw baby showers and wedding showers, they attend their kids’ sporting events, they listen to each other and give advice. They understand that “to be innovative, you have to be diverse” and one of their core beliefs is that you should treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect.
Leaders in the company are trained in and encouraged to use the Serve Model. Each letter in the word serve stands for a value. S is for see and shape the future because leaders should have vision and they should be able to articulate that vision to others. E is for engage and develop others. R is for reinvent continuously and the ability to be willing to change things up. V stands for valuing results as well as relationships and the last E is to embody the values of the company which include generosity, loyalty and excellence. Chick-fil-A believes that the higher up you are in the company, the more responsibility you have to embody the serve model. The focus is putting others before yourself.
Chick-fil-A also has some very unique perks for their employees. Their headquarters have outdoor workspaces with full wifi, they have a cafe with free lunches, the company offers great health care and they allow employees to use condos owned by management for vacations. They also have an annual conference and one year they rented out the largest cruise ship in the world for it.
Corporate culture is vitally important for successful organizations. It shapes who you are as a company, it helps you attract and retain great talent and it helps you focus on where you need to go in the future. Chick-fil-A is a great example of how putting people first can go a long way in creating an amazing corporate culture.
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
Link From The Episode:
Mon, 19 December 2016
Jeff Wong is the Global Chief Innovation Officer at EY, a global organization that has over 200,000 employees worldwide. Before he was at EY he spent 10 years in innovation at Ebay. He has an AB in Economics, a Master in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management and a MBA from Stanford University.
The world is changing faster than it ever has before. We have seen the evolution of AI, self driving cars, drones and robots in the workplace and who knows where technology will go in the future. In this ever changing world it is imperative for companies to adapt and keep up with the times. The question is how can companies keep up when things are changing daily.
Wong says innovation is “doing old things in new ways”. He says one of the most important things to do to stay ahead of the game is to pay attention to what is going on around the world. He says he is constantly reading up on world events and always listening to clients and employees around the world. Companies should be aware of what is going on around the world. EY has employees around the world which allows them to reach out to a whole host of regions in order to learn what different areas are doing and how it is working for them. Four main technologies that Wong and EY are paying attention to at this time are data analytics, blockchain, AI and robotic process automation.
Innovation is no longer just about plugging technology in, technology is much more involved now. Companies and employees have to be willing to “get their hands dirty”. Wong says in order for companies to keep up with innovation they cannot just sit and talk about new technology. Companies need to play with new technology, they have to implement it and they have to actually use the technology to address real problems. Doing this allows companies to “see where that technology is today and how fast it is evolving”.
There are three types of innovation; Disruptive innovation, which is looking far into the future to figure out what could be, adjacent innovation which is doing things one step ahead of today’s technology and sustaining innovation which should be done everyday to make sure you are staying on top of what you already have in place. Wong says it is so important for companies to implement all three types of innovation.
When companies strive for innovation more likely than not, there will be failure. Wong says, “failure is a big part of innovation” and that the important thing is “what you learn from that failure and how to change the pathway around it”. Both Wong and EY embrace failure and understand that it will happen when companies try new things. There have even been times when a project or an idea has had to be scrapped completely. This is just something you have to be okay with if you want to be an innovative company.
Wong says in order to be a leading innovator in a disruptive world “you have to be willing and eager to learn. You can’t get stuck on any framework or model”. He says you can’t just be focused on the technology of today and you have to have the “willingness to be wrong, and admit it”.
When it comes to advice for organizations trying to keep up with innovation, Wong says it is important to “read a lot, know what is going on in the world, get your hands dirty….know where things are today and where they are going in the future”.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode:
Mon, 5 December 2016
Ben Waber is the Founder and CEO of Humanyze, a people analytics company. He is also the author of a book titled, People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What it Tells Us About the Future of Work.
People analytics is a truly fascinating and exciting field that is changing the way companies test and analyze their employees, and ultimately how effectively the company is operating. Unlike the techniques that have been used in the past, such as annual surveys or polls, people analytics uses behavioral data that is collected directly from the employees in order to get a broader look at the day to day activities of a company. Ben Waber defines people analytics as “using data about what people do at work to change how a company is managed”.
Humanyze is a social sensing and analytics platform that uses sensors in employee ID badges to measure important behavioral data such as where people are in the office at any given time and the volume and speed of an employee’s voice when talking with a coworker. Gathering these types of behaviors allows companies to get a bigger picture of the ins and outs of their company and the performance and patterns of employees. It can help find issues such as causes of stress in the workplace or the mishandling of how people are rewarded. People analytics can help companies answer basic questions such as, how much time should a salesperson talk with a customer or how much time does management spend with a certain department? These seem like basic questions, but they have not been answered up until now because we haven’t had a way to collect the data that is needed to provide answers.
With people analytics we can look at the percentage of time a manager spends with their team, the amount of time employees spend with their coworkers, how people talk to each other and motion patterns. It is important to note that the sensors don’t collect individual conversations or specific data about an individual, rather they collect the data to give analysts a broad look at the company. People analytics allows data to come in and be tested constantly, as opposed to once a year with a survey. This helps companies to analyze data on an ongoing basis to allow them to make decisions and continue to adapt in a way that keeps them at the top of their industry.
This doesn’t mean that companies should stop doing surveys and polls; those are good initial steps, but using surveys alone is not as effective as they measure employee perception versus reality.
One example of a company who implemented people analytics is a call center that hired Humanyze. This call center, as with most call centers, had a huge number of employees and the goal of management was to keep as many people on the phones at one time as possible as success is measured by completed calls. Because of this, all the employees were broken up into teams and each team member had a separate lunch break. In terms of the number of people on the phone at one time, this seemed to be the most effective way to operate for the management team. However, after starting people analytics and testing they found that the performance level was nowhere near where it needed to be and employees seemed to be stressed. In the end they found that it was due to the fact that the employees were not able to talk to their fellow team members during breaks and therefore they weren’t able to vent about problem calls or get support from each other. From that data the company changed their policy to allow lunch breaks to have 15 minute overlaps for team members. This resulted in calls being completed 23% faster, lower turnover rate, less employee stress, and more cohesive teams.
Without people analytics the call center may have never figured out what their performance issue was. As Waber states, “they didn’t have the data before, so they had no reason to change”.
At this point in time there are some challenges for people analytics. It is a new concept and a lot of people are skeptical or scared of it. There is also a cost, as it requires companies to create a new type of team with analysts and data scientists as well as HR professionals and it requires certain technical updates. But the cost of ignoring people analytics far outweighs the cost of implementing it. There are already several companies, large and small, who have started using people analytics and as we proceed into the future more and more companies will join in. Waber says on average people analytics increases top line performance by 10-15%.
Waber advises companies to “Take baby steps. You don’t need to jump out ahead, but do something that makes you uncomfortable and outside of your comfort zone”. Even if you haven’t started implementing people analytics yet, Waber says, “you are not that far behind, yet. But in the next couple of years it will be harder and harder to catch up”.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links From The Episode: