Navigating the Future of Work: From Team Optimisation to Tech Realism and Organisational Agility

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In our latest “Hot Topic Tuesday” session, members of the Leaders in Transformation community convened in a virtual space to talk through the pressing issues shaping our industries. The group unpacked various topics that hold profound implications for leaders and organisations today. Here’s a glimpse into the vibrant exchange of ideas that unfolded.

Navigating Change and Performance in Teams

One of the focal discussions revolved around optimising team performance amidst change. A common scenario leaders face is dealing with team members who, despite their high social capital, fail to deliver on critical work packages. The discussion underscored the complexity of addressing performance issues, especially in environments where traditional authority dynamics are in flux. Strategies such as aligning team objectives with the broader change program and fostering mutual accountability emerged as pivotal.

Yet, the conversation also highlighted the limitations leaders encounter in contract roles, where time and influence are constrained. Our recent Orange Paper “The COO’s Guide to AI” notes, building trust and open communication are crucial, as Priya Gupta, the fictional COO, recognised the need to invest time in listening to her people, understanding their concerns, and providing them the space to voice their resistance to change. 

AI and Blockchain: Hype vs. Reality

Discussions then transitioned into a critical examination of AI and blockchain technologies. While AI’s ubiquitous influence is acknowledged, the consensus leaned towards the importance of demystifying the hype surrounding generative AI by grounding discussions in tangible outcomes and benefits. Indeed practical application of AI and other leading edge technologies has been a consistent theme in all of our “Hot Topic Tuesday” sessions. This article from “AI adoption accelerates as enterprise PoCs show productivity gains” makes a number of key points amongst them the need to be mindful of business outcomes and only apply use cases that make sense – to the business.

As for blockchain, its journey from a buzzword to a quieter presence in the tech landscape spurred a thought-provoking debate. Participants shared insights from first-hand experiences with blockchain projects, pondering over its real-world applications and the separation of blockchain’s utility from the cryptocurrency frenzy.


The Delicate Dance of Organisational Change

Illustrating this point, participants discussed methodologies for evaluating project impact versus effort, suggesting practical approaches for managing expansive portfolios without diluting focus or efficacy. This aligns with the earlier Orange Paper’s emphasis on the need for a “new way of working” when it comes to AI implementation, where continual assessment and the establishment of ethical, process, and cultural guardrails are crucial.

Participants echoed the observations in a previous blog by Jacqueline Shakespeare, Consulting Partner at S&S, that in today’s complex business world, “cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect, which means knowledge and instinct alone are no longer enough.” In the blog Jacqueline also goes on to emphasise the need to “sense, experiment and learn” in order to quickly adapt to changing circumstances, rather than relying solely on existing knowledge and experience.

The conversation also touched on her recommendation to “flip the script” and continuously question the status quo, rather than simply following it. Participants noted the importance of establishing ethical, process, and cultural guardrails when implementing new initiatives, as highlighted in our Orange Paper “The COO’s Guide to AI” to call for a “new way of working” around AI. This reflects the blog’s view that successfully navigating complexity requires having the right organisational foundations in place first.


Looking Ahead

The exchange of ideas at the latest “Hot Topic Tuesday” session underscores the multifaceted challenges leaders face in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. From addressing team performance issues to harnessing the potential of disruptive technologies, the discussions laid bare the imperative for strategic agility and empathetic leadership.

As organisations continue to navigate the transformative landscape, the insights gleaned from these forums will be instrumental in shaping effective change management strategies. By fostering a culture of open dialogue, leaders can cultivate the resilience needed to thrive amidst constant change, while maintaining a keen focus on tangible outcomes and the wellbeing of their teams.

Importantly, the Orange Paper’s lessons on the criticality of transparency, prompt acknowledgment of issues, and a measured, strategic approach to emerging technologies like AI can further guide leaders in this endeavour. As the paper suggests, carefully selecting AI use cases with predictable outcomes, while building strong relationships and trust both internally and externally, can help organisations navigate the complexities of the future of work.



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Robin Hobbs
Written by Robin Hobbs
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