Strategic Human Capital Insights

3 Operational Trends for 2016: Disruption, Technology & Human Capital

2016 written on rural roadOur world, at every level, WILL BE disrupted.  The McKinsey Global Institute defines disruptive technologies as new emerging technologies that unexpectedly displace established ones and shake up the industry.  Some disruptors will be easy to spot.  Others will come from the most unexpected places.  Organizations must consciously and continually focus on the outside horizon to anticipate disruption and deal with it as quickly as possible.


  1. Disruption and Disruptive Technologies – The New Normal
  • Living with Disruption as the Norm. BAU and the Steady State are a Thing of the Past: Change has become the norm and business as usual (BAU), which was formally the goal, will become a subset of Change, Transformation and Transition Management. Prepare to accept the fact that as soon as the steady state of BAU is achieved, disruption will shake things up again.  

  • Welcome to the VUCA World (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity): This disruptive state will require a new set of skills that have not been part of mainstream learning and development.   These skills, at every level of the organization, will require significant amounts of investment capital to ‘upskill’ current employees to function effectively in the VUCA world.  We are facing a workforce talent crisis of epic proportions and VUCA skills are leading the talent deficit. 

  1. Technology – One of the four takeaways from the Fortune Global Forum Is That We Are All Technology Companies
  • Technology – What is its Role in the Organization: The technology function continues to live in two worlds – the technical and the strategic.  This presents incredible operating challenges and dilemmas to technology organizations that need to have people who are technically competent and, at the same time, strategic and outwardly focused.  This technology paradox is a new circumstance that requires a new operating context at all levels.  According to the Fortune Global Forum, technology will be a key business driver for companies.  The technology function needs to be strategically aligned, future focused and technically robust.  Executing on this paradoxical operating paradigm will require a new blueprint and is by no means an easy or simple task.

  • Ironically, The Greatest Challenge Isn’t Tech, But People: Since technology is often embedded in and drives the innovation and change process, it is necessary to bring people with you on the change journey and create the right culture.  This is the central challenge to survive business and technology-driven change.  The focus is to foster a mindset and framework that embraces change while neutralizing the fear of change.  The challenge is to demystify the change process and accept that change is here to stay.  That means rethinking everything about how a transformative organization operates today to include structure, people and process.
     
  1. Rethink Traditional Human Capital Functions and Processes
  • Thank you, Accenture, for Getting Rid of Annual Performance Reviews: Traditional performance reviews belong in traditional organizations operating in a steady state with minimal disruption.  Today, this is hardly the case, yet organizations still cling to old, ineffective structures like performance reviews.  Organizations today need to be present to future focused.  Employees need to be continually upskilled to meet the challenges of change.  Both the organization and employee must stay continually aligned with strategic initiatives.  Learning and organized feedback that is done in the present with a view to the future is the current name of the game.  Will the old Performance Review process help organizations reflect on the past or will a newer, more robust system take the organization into the future.  

  • Ranking Employees and the Bell Curve Will be a Thing of the Past: What does ranking employees against each other really accomplish?  Employees set the performance benchmark instead of the objective role and competencies setting the benchmark.  It’s time to objectively benchmark the job and rank employees against the benchmark rather than each other.  According to the thinking of the bell curve, some employees are always ahead of the curve, most are in the middle of the curve and some will always be at the end of the curve.  That’s fine for steady, stable organizations, but do they even exist anymore?  To meet the challenges of today’s competitive environment, the great majority of employees need to be ahead of the curve.  What is so bad about that?  There is little room for average.  The bell curve accepts and institutionalizes mediocrity.  Can organizations survive and thrive with this archaic paradigm?


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Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

Joanne T. Flynn heads up the human capital advisory group, Phoenix Strategic Performance, Inc. Previously, she was a Managing Director with Phoenix Group International and was Vice President / Director of Global Learning and Development at Goldman, Sachs for nine years. Joanne works with organizations as they face global growth and competitive challenges. She works with her clients to be both externally focused and internally responsive. With her unique background, she aligns competitive strategic efforts with related internal organizational leadership challenges. With the benefit of her career-long focus, Joanne contributes the unique insight of aligning strategy to internal organizational structure and process. She focuses on human capital relative to strategic initiatives, accelerated business growth, value creation, and business development. Joanne holds a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, she holds a double degree major in History and German from St. Elizabeth University, as well as certificates from a variety of leading universities and professional training and development organizations. Joanne has recently published her latest book, Accelerating Business Success, The Human Asset Management Strategy.

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