Talent Development in the Post-Knowledge World: The Future Demands Workers to Be Innovative and Leaders to Know How to Measure Those Results

By Gaul, Patty | Talent Development, December 2016 | Go to article overview

Talent Development in the Post-Knowledge World: The Future Demands Workers to Be Innovative and Leaders to Know How to Measure Those Results


Gaul, Patty, Talent Development


In An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey write, "In an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world (the so-called VUCA world)-a world of new challenges and opportunities-organizations naturally need to expect more, and not less, of themselves and the people who work for them. But our familiar organizational design fails to match that need."

Few people would disagree that organizations and workplaces are much different than they were a generation ago, or even five years ago. Technology, for all of its many benefits, is one of the factors causing angst in workers as automation threatens their jobs as they know them. According to a 2016 Job Seeker Nation study, 56 percent of respondents expressed concern that their job would be taken over by a robot. The pace of change, along with being urged to be innovative, also are reasons underlying anxiety.

With the changing landscape, what must employees and employers do to keep pace? How has training and talent development changed, and what can we expect in the near future?

What the change means

An Intrepid-sponsored study, The Innovation Worker: Rethinking the Knowledge Worker for the 21st Century, outlines what it means when we're talking innovation: "Innovation does not manifest only as an exciting new product. Innovation is the result of reframing ordinary problems to generate creative solutions that have value in the marketplace"

With the VUCA world that requires innovation, a large part of the uncertainty and volatility is brought about as a result of technology. That technology is bringing changes to our jobs, certainly, but it doesn't necessarily mean the eradication of them. Healthcare and social assistance are two areas that are expected to see growth, as are professional services, construction, leisure and hospitality, and education.

The Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings article "What Happens if Robots Take the Jobs? The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Employment and Public Policy" states, "In light of technology advances, the information sector is one of the areas expected to shrink in jobs."

Given all these changes, what is left and valued is creativity and innovation, said Harold Jarche in his July 2015 TD Long View interview. "Learning in the workflow is the result of us living in a very complex world where all the easy stuff is being done by software and machines, and all that's left for human work is the tough, wicked stuff. And that requires creativity."

Talent development, not just training

Rather than simply training as we know it, the VUCA world requires a change in culture and mindset, along with simplifying work. Employees need to understand how to take risks; managers need to know how to ask questions of their direct reports; and leaders need to understand, as they always have, the why of their company and of specific roles, and to be able to convey those sentiments.

Scott Cochrane, an author, coach, and business adviser whose clients have included Accenture, Cisco, HP, ING, and Shell, explains that the new world of work is about leadership taking a different step that fosters creativity, the disruption that is now needed. There are several techniques that can spur on this change in mindset to break out of the habitual, the latter of which requires less energy than creative thinking. In her work, author and futurethink owner Lisa Bodell notes that leaders often are some of the biggest stumbling blocks to innovation-not because they want to be, but because they don't have time to be innovative themselves or foster the culture of innovation.

Michael Y. Brenner, president of Right Chord Leadership, says it's difficult to train employees to think creatively and come up with the innovative ideas that lead to new product lines or new ways of processing in the traditional sense of training. …

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