The Future of Collaboration

 

Christine Haskell, researcher and consultant, studies performance and organizational growth. She gives an overview on the future of work.

 

TECHNOLOGY BOOSTS COLLABORATION

Technology continues to break barriers in every industry it enters (healthcare, education, automotive, etc.). Even so, we opt for too many tried and true solutions. We hold back.

Derivative solutions produce the lowest common denominator. Companies should be using technology and data in more interesting ways.

While there is interest in more nimble forms of management (agile, lean, holocracy, etc.) inspired by tech companies, humans still select the teams. What if we assembled teams using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data? In a recent article, The Guardian described chat bots as: “computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence. They can transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.” This kind of workplace enhancement could help foster a collaborative environment. Unaware of our biases, a bot could reflect with whom you chat the most, making recommendations on who you could communicate with more.

External collaboration platforms, such as Slack, allow employees to communicate and gather. Founded in 2009, Slack has over 2 million daily active users. That technology enables transparency and improves decision making has been known for some time. As globalization has rendered the business environment more complex, dynamic, and competitive, the ability to function effectively in different cultural contexts, cross-cultural intelligence, has never been more important for organizations.

RISE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY WORKFORCE

In a world driven by scale and the democratization technology brings, the only way to be unique in this job market is to be multidisciplinary and internally directed. Specialized roles are increasingly at risk. With AI software’s ability to learn, adapt, and be creative in problem solving, roles that deal with quantitative information, for example, it’s much easier to replace an analyst than it is an electrician.

As a result, organizations are starting to transform the way they interview and hire people. Facebook, Google, and Amazon, for instance, are looking at a very interesting range of skillsets with a combination of design, psychology, and engineering skills.

Instead of engineering driving the process and design and marketing being thrown in at the end, design is leading human-centered approaches. The most important people in the organization today are those with design-thinking and deep empathy. People who are able to look at a problem and translate it from a human problem, to an app, to a platform or something you can sell are now the primary storytellers. More and more, companies are looking for people with creativity and the willingness to learn, rather than those good at monitoring operational excellence from pre-existing knowledge.

The time of these individuals is best shared between working on multiple projects, rather than just one. In a way, this completely messes up traditional approaches to project management, however we are seeing it lead to better productivity.

EXPERIMENTATION REQUIRED

Large organizations need to learn to develop creative, autonomous employees and create spaces where they facilitate customers, partners, suppliers, students, freelancers and start-ups to be able to collectively try out new things.

That’s the only way companies come up with new services and products faster in a world where startups are able to execute at an astounding pace.

Mashups, meetups, and hackathons are spaces where you would invite a mix of your customers, partners, suppliers, students, and freelancers. A lot of the best talent in the next five years will be self-employed and the most talented people will not want to invest their time in one company.

 

 

Christine Haskell, Phd

Behavioral researcher, executive coach and consultant. Currently working on what master craftsmen can teach us about how we learn. Look to Craftsmen, pending publication in 2017.

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