Evolving Leadership from Tech advances

05. 21. 2017 by First Avocado CONSULTING FACILITATION WORKSHOP, LONGITUDINAL TRAINING & COACHING, STRATEGY & PLANNING, MENTORING A MENTEE

At an age when technology is mantra for everything, ‘people design’ and evolution of leadership quotient should lean in the same trajectory as tech innovations.

Transactional activities such as encashing a cheque in a bank follow standard operating procedures – predefined inputs followed by standard activities and finally end into one of many predictable outcome. Under the armoury of automation, information sharing and data analytics, technology is designed to drive efficiency and effectiveness
in transactional activiies. Even decision making activities – once placed far from democratisation of technology, is now an operational mantra using pattern recognition and machine learning software. The length and depth of human interventions in an organisation may now seem to be diminishing. The focus is now on finding relevance of human interventions when all this is happening, perhaps even of higher stature.

 

Rewind cash withdrawal process – this time, in-fuse automation and rule based machine intelligence. In comes the customer, scans the cheque via kiosk machine, machine requests  contact information and initials, customer keys her mobile number and biometric into the screen, customer receives one time password which is again keyed into the screen, machine verifies cheque credentials with database server and finally releases cash. This is highly structured and highly predictable.    

However, what happens, when exceptional situation arises. Like the case of an elderly citizen who isn’t at all tech savvy. How do we motivate them to accept the change for which customer sees no real benefits. Any unstructured activity such as this is highly unpredictable, for this involves not the affairs of mechanics but the affairs of emotions. This is the transformational kind. This is far from knowing ‘what’ is required to get a certain output. This involves understanding ‘why’ the outcome is important to someone. 

Something of this kind have already started in ‘People Design’ and it starts with fancy titles –  CDO (Chief Design officer) at coca cola and CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) at Google. 

Most transactional activities will eventually get adopted within the realms of tech-led automation – the services thus become highly commoditised unless the product itself delivers unique values. This is when organisation can find unique opportunities to strengthen its values to a customer. The trick is in decoupling transactional and transformational activity from a business process. For instance, a customer service function which is highly transformational by design can be decoupled to enrich its transformational activity from the transactional type. With tech innovations now, it is now possible to convert up-selling and cross-selling opportunity using analytics to the transactional type, once handled using customer probing skills.

 

Productivity wisdom that dictates laying off people as a result of automation don’t work. In fact, benefits as a result of reduced overhead should be used in creating customer or employee advocacy groups. These groups are not designed to support processes, but to handle unstructured events such as change, innovation, apprenticeship, leading, learning, and communicating for impact. This is not equivalent to a notion of job enrichment neither it is an upheaval of value chain activities.   

So, what would this translate to workforce design, performance and motivation?

The knowledge of process and tools will now be delivered  as conceptual models, the rationale being information centered learning can be acquired on-demand via pool of internet resources
. The focus is now on appropriate behaviour and thought leadership at various instances of the process. Measurement based on metrics and balance score card approach will be applicable only for structured activities. Impact assessment for transformational activities will be measured from a string of digital platforms and stakeholder’s touch points. Perhaps the world will then come a full circle wherein goodness and awesomeness of thoughts and actions will alone differentiate from the rest. And this goodness stretches well beyond the network of employees and customers.

A newer version of flatter organisation could emerge in which departments are obsolete. Functional compartments and cross functional processes may still exist at the transactional layer.  The objectives of transformational layer to elate human feelings, emotions and rapport can be measured from parallel digital space – wherein likes, emoticons, followers and shares create imagery of success and failure.

Although for smaller economies, knowledge of process and tools usage will continue to hold a strong proportion in leadership quotient, it is only about time when that change shoud occur. Until then, we can only be aware of our attributes and competencies that design us.  

This article was published in ‘The Perspective’ section of ‘The Himalayan Times’ daily. 

Authored by 

ZAFFAR NAIK

Comments

    Jason Schiner says:

    Good thought through

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