I am an individual who is an early adopter of ‘shiny new toys and gadgets’ and have incorporated many of these into my life, home and businesses. As a management consultant and advisor to business, particularly the Human Resources profession, I regularly help shape new operating models that introduce and leverage technology to enable businesses to enhance and transform user experience of their core HR processes. Most businesses cases I prepare these days involve significant investment in technology that will either augment people delivered services or in some cases remove people from repetitive or administrative activities.
With this said, I sense there is a rising movement around the world challenging the technology industry and its claimed benefits and utility to society, I feel this movement is quite rightly bringing into focus deeper questions about humanity and business’ role in helping to solve today’s social challenges.
I think the time may be right for Business to go back to school and re-take its ‘Humanity’ lesson re-focusing on its social purpose and more deeply considering its role and influence on the pressing challenges of our times.
My thinking on this topic has been further ignited and inspired following attendance at the Changeboard Future Talent conference in London in March 2019 ( https://ftconf2019.com/).
This was a conference about humanity, about technology and about business. It included speakers from an incredibly diverse range of perspectives including people from Religion, Philosophy, Academia, Technology and Business in general.
It is this rich diversity of thought and perspective that has challenged my own thinking and beliefs about technology. It has highlighted the need to seek broader perspectives, opinions and input into my work and to reduce the influence of technologists in some of my own decision making.
The conversation about AI and automation when framed in the context of social justice, social mobility, re-skilling at scale, life-long learning, mental health, cognitive diversity, systemised bias, morality and ethics are so much more confronting, meaningful and human than most conversations currently being held in the businesses boardrooms.
Businesses will continue to adopt new technologies, consultants like me will continue to advocate for the adoption of new technologies but greater dialogue is needed by all concerned to ensure digital adoption is for the right reasons and that human impact is fully considered and planned for.
As a HR industry we have a pressing duty of care to develop organisational learning culture, to focus on LQ, not just EQ and IQ. We have to encourage and develop growth mindsets, invest in lifelong learning to support lifelong employability and we must ensure diversity of thought exists throughout our organisations.
I will endeavour to challenge my own thinking, that of my colleagues and that of my clients as we enter this brave new world. It is my commitment to consider humanity in the work that I do, my challenge for you is to do the same.
I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the speakers at the conference…….
“We need less human doing and more human being.”
“Live by the hour hand of the clock not the second hand, its still accurate, still relevant, but a very different frame.”
“Putting hope in technology is putting hope in the wrong place, we need to put hope in people. We need wisdom more than knowledge.”
“Technology is too important to be left to the technologists.”
“We need more coaching that pulls out capacity, rather than consulting, that pushes in knowledge and expertise.”
“People need ‘learnability’, they need to learn to learn.”
“Value talent over technology.”
‘Cognitive diversity will be the most important competitive element in business in the next 50 years.”
“The leadership skills needed now are digital fluency / literacy, curiosity of the new, focus on talent and diversity of thought.”
“There are to many companies ‘doing’ Diversity, this is just corporate blah blah blah. Diversity has to be linked to strategic objectives to be successful.”
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