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Leading Future of Work Transformations: The Five Key Strategy Elements

There is a lot of speculation about what the future of work will look like, feel like, and function like. We are already experiencing dramatic shifts in the way we work, being driven and enabled by new digital-experience platforms and artificial intelligence, creating an experience that is self-directed and adaptive. Included with these shifts are the change in workforce demographics and the emergence of the empowered consumer who demands a level of service that is co-created in real time. This lineup could provide for the perfect storm unless organizations, specifically their leadership, plan and prepare for the dramatic change in mindsets and approaches to the way people think, learn, and perform in the very near future.

Companies that are proactively anticipating the 2025 or 2030 future of work dynamics and focusing on digital transformation are significantly improving their opportunities to improve both the employee and the customer experience, increase speed of innovation, increase productivity, and increase effectiveness of decision making results by having predictive analytics available.  A recent Forbes article written by Louis Columbus stated an interesting statistic, “55% of startups have already adopted a digital business strategy compared to 38% of traditional enterprises.”  By 2020, those that have not integrated and adopted a digital strategy will find themselves unable to compete in the evolved market.  To remain competitive, companies need to ensure they have a robust future-of-work transformation strategy that starts with the mindsets and actions of leadership.

Companies that are making it a strategic priority need to also ensure every critical aspect is covered in their work transformation strategy development. Companies having a keen focus on the human side of the effects are the front runners in preparing their workforce for a new way of working. These companies anticipate and proactively develop the required and relevant capabilities needed to perform effectively in the new environment and to meet the demands of the future customer.

The trick to having a work transformation strategy that really makes a difference is to ensure it is one that can be executed successfully. Too often, great efforts are put into creating a strategy only to have it be a communication piece that circulates, stirs up a bit of discussion, and then gets lost in the demands of the day. A strategy that is executable needs to use a holistic approach that goes beyond just getting the strategy documented; the approaches, tools, and resources must also be aligned to execute on each factor of the strategy. A holistic, executable transformation strategy entails five critical elements:

  • Business Alignment
    • Vision and performance philosophy, strategic value, and structure for success
  • People and Teams
    • Performance experience, capabilities matrix, and enablement journey
  • Technology and Systems
    • Technology ecosystem, integrated user experience, and systems integration
  • Policies and Procedures
    • Constraints and enablers, systems structure, and measurement and analytics
  • Culture and Environment
    • Leadership and change management, stakeholder support and enablement, and governance and sustainability

Each of these elements plays a vital role in the development of a strategy that becomes the calibrated compass point for the execution and continued evolution of the strategy. By addressing all five elements and subcomponents of those elements thoughtfully and intentionally, leadership can produce an effective strategy that guides the creation, implementation, and evolution of the transformation. The strategy initially positions and informs the business case for the transformation and development of future-of-work performer experience. As the experience is rolled out, this strategy then serves as the operational blueprint that then becomes the governance playbook to serve as the standards guide and course-correcting compass point.

Work transformation is already occurring—now is the time to anticipate and design the experiences that align skills with business needs. Strategy needs to focus on empowering employees to develop their skills and to stay relevant in a fast-moving digital, agile environment. A solid strategy and conviction to be proactive is needed to advance digital transformation and ensure a workforce that is prepared to solve new problems across a varied landscape of changing business services and solutions and ever-evolving customer demands.

About the Authors

Kerry Hearns-Smith
Kerry joins GP Strategies with over 20 years of experience in senior roles working with Fortune 100 companies around the globe on engagements - transforming organizational culture, learning, and the employee experience. She is a life-long learner herself and her current sweet spot includes taking L&D from yesterday’s organizational driven formal learning to the future with learner driven digital, on-demand, and adaptive learning ecosystems.

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