The pandemic has increased the pace of change in a digitally accelerated world, and at the same time, it is forcing organisations, leaders, and teams to become more purposeful, human, and customer-centric. Managing both the future and the present simultaneously requires people to unlearn what has worked in the past and relearn new mindsets and behaviours.  This is crucial to enabling people to perform at their best, and it requires investment in reskilling and upskilling people to be future-fit to meet the needs of previously unheard-of occupations, newly emerging flexible job options, all of which are being transformed by the pandemic, coupled with technologies created by accelerated digitisation. Where organisation, leaders, and teams can increase speed, agility and improve simplicity and strategically generate new ways of tapping into the power of, and harnessing, and mobilizing people’s collective intelligence.

To better enable them to balance and resource organisational digital, agile, or cultural transformational initiatives with the needs of its people, users, customers, and communities, and execute them accordingly.

Collective Intelligence

Collective intelligence is group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, efforts, and engagement of diverse groups, teams, and collectives. This poses a great opportunity, which is also critical to recovery, for organisations to attract, retain, manage and leverage talent through reskilling and upskilling people to be future-fit by:

  1. Enhancing flexible work options

The recent World Economic Forum Job Reset Summit reported that “in 2020, the global workforce lost an equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs, an estimated $3.7 trillion in wages and 4.4% of global GDP, a staggering toll on lives and livelihoods.”

In a recent article, McKinsey & Co stated that as many as 25% more workers may need to switch occupations than before the pandemic.

This means that a hybrid work environment, without the constriction of location, and with the ability to leverage connection digitally, creates a greater talent pool to draw from. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “What your future employees want most”, there are untapped pools of talent such as the “home force”. The hybrid work model includes bringing people back into the workforce who may have put their careers on hold due to raising children, caring for the elderly, and retirement.

It also means that some people are more likely to prioritise lifestyle (family and personal interests) over proximity to work, and will pursue jobs in locations where they can focus on both – even if it means taking a pay cut. Workers will be more likely to move out of cities if they can work remotely for a majority of the time, creating new work hubs in suburban or rural areas.

  1. Measuring the value delivered and not the volume

Designing people and customer-centric work experiences, roles gives people the space to unlock their full potential, maximise their impact by delivering transformative results that contribute to the common good and to the future of humanity.

It also encourages cross-fertilisation of creative ideas through teaming and networking. It maximises the power of collaboration and collaborative technologies to create and capture value, through inventing new business models, services, and products that users and customers appreciate and cherish.

  1. Prioritising continuous learning, reskilling and upskilling

At the same time, customer expectations and preferences are also constantly changing. This is giving rise and opening doors to new roles and opportunities that may have never previously existed.

Organisations also need to discover and explore new ways of competing and future-proofing against uncertainty and disruption. They also need to invent new ways of boosting productivity and improving efficiency, through adapting and flexing to flow with the new reality.

There are also opportunities to solve complex problems by increasing reciprocity and collaboration through cross-functional partnerships, collectives, tribes, and ecosystems, designed to capture and deliver value co-creatively.

Continuous learning

Reskilling and upskilling people to be future-fit by maximising collective intelligence require disrupting complacency and stagnation. You must create an environment of continuous learning and trust where people have the permission and safety and are “allowed” to:

  • Value and leverage differences and diversity in ways that evoke, provoke, and create new ways of being through unlearning.
  • Challenge the status quo, by withholding judgement and evaluation, through developing vital generative questioning, listening, and debating skills.
  • Continuously learn, to remain both agile and adaptive, collaborative and innovative, to discover, evolve, and grow talent in ways that are both nimble and sustainable.
  • Create lines of sight between strategy, structures, systems, people, and customers, identifying and maximising interdependencies, through intentional collaboration where everyone knows that their efforts contribute to, and make a difference to the delivery of organisational outcomes.
  • Provide rigour, discipline by driving accountability and by constantly measuring and sharing feedback and results to allow for engaging people in continuous learning, iterative process, and real-life pivots.

Leveraging collective genius

Only prioritising reskilling and upskilling people will leverage people’s collective genius and enhance their agility to survive and thrive, flow, and flourish.

Organisations that are future-focused will create meaningful and purposeful hybrid workplaces that increase peoples’ job satisfaction and support. That includes flexible work options, continuous learning, and focus on generating value delivery will build people’s loyalty and retention and lower hiring costs over time.

An uncertain future

According to the World Economic Forum Job Reset Summit, “[while] vaccine rollout has begun and the growth outlook is predicted to improve, socio-economic recovery is far from certain”.

Yet with so much uncertainty about the future, there is one thing that we can all control is our mindset – how we think, feel, and choose to act in any situation.

All of us have the freedom to choose, to develop our independent wills, and create new ways of being, thinking, feeling, and doing – to meet the needs of a wide range of previously unheard-of occupations that are emerging to provide more flexible, meaningful and purposeful jobs.

We must leverage the current turning point, which is full of possibilities and innovative opportunities for enabling organisations, people, and customers to be more equitable, resilient, sustainable, and future-fit.

This is the third of a series of four blogs, podcasts, and webinars on Developing a Human-Centric Future-Fitness organisation.