Monday, 1 April 2019

The Innovation Network Spring Workshop summary - 'Work in 2030 - It may not be what you think'

'Thought provoking and challenging'
'First-rate speakers'
'Excellent venue'
'Superb agenda, as usual for KIN'

...This is just some of the feedback from participants in the Innovation Network Spring Workshop, held at the Shard on 28th March.
Innovation Network members can see all the presenters materials, videos plus much more research on the future of work at the event page.
All of the presenters facilitated 'table group discussions' to stimulate thinking about how to apply what we have learned.

A few highlights:

Ed Houghton from CIPD started us off with some scenarios of what work in 2030 might look and feel like. Each table discussed these scenarios and decided on whether they were likely or unlikely. The conclusions led to much debate. Despite much press about the future being about millennials, CIPD believe that a more important factor is how we manage an ageing workforce. The pressure from 'never off' and flexible working will have a serious impact on workers wellbeing, especially stress. Organisations that are proactive in this area will ultimately succeed and attract quality, skilled staff. Splits in the workforce between highly skilled and unskilled will grow, leading to further inequality.

Eliza Easton from NESTA followed with research findings on what skills will be needed to succeed in 2030. Eliza reiterated the need to tap into the wealth of experience from an ageing and retiring workforce. She challenged us to think about what it is that we are training workers for; skills needed for today or 11 years time will be quite different. Are schools teaching judgement, fluency of ideas, originality, deductive reasoning and problem solving? As AI and machine learning take much of the drudgery of transactional work away, these are the skills that organisations should be retraining workers in. Eliza called these 'transversal skills'.

Kevin McCullough of PLAN shared his view on how tech and automation will impact future work. His nicely optimistic view contrast vastly with the doom-monger predictions in the press of job losses. He calls this 'the human / machine interlace'. He gave many examples from history where technology has led to an increase in both job numbers and workers' satisfaction. One of the most memorable was when bible printers in 1470 Augsberg feared that the printing press would put them out of work. Their hand printing skills were indeed obsolete, but the vastly increased demand for machine-printed bibles meant a huge demand for printers.

Kerstin Sailer from Brainybirdz is both an architect and social scientist. Kerstin gave us some statistics to show how much we need to improve the working environment. 58% of staff say their 'workspace enables them to work productively', yet 85% of workplace design is spent on people-related costs. The physical space can bring us together or keep us apart - who would have thought that a Palladian Villa of 1580 would be a more effective office of the 1990s? She showed us how we might rethink the working environment, using an evidence-based approach.

Finally, Amanda Dickens and Jas Sidhu of PwC showed us their technique for identifying potential 'disruptors' to established organisations. Firstly, they posited that there were 8 significant technology innovations that will disrupt many organisations: AI, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Drones, Internet of Things, Robotics, Virtual Reality and 3D Printing. Jas and Amanda then demonstrated their 'Core City' virtual reality tool that they use to help clients reveal their own disruptors. Finally (and for me, more effectively) they ran an exercise using case-studies from Retail and Airlines. Participants in groups were given a set of 'disruptor' cards for each scenario and asked to plot them on a likelyhood/ timeline matrix. During the feedback walkabout, a very lively discussion ensued!

This was followed by a drinks and networking reception, where everyone enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the Thames from the 17th floor of the Shard.

KIN members who couldn't participate can see the presenter videos and slides (scroll down to the event library) on the event page. How well will your organisation cope and thrive in 2030?