The closing keynote speech was by David D’Souza, covering the future of work and how we reshape ourselves as a profession.
He began by asking how we integrate technology into what we do. He established that we would all be happy if technology could automate what we do, but the challenge is that we don’t really know what we want technology to do, and we haven’t figured out what we do if it does automate what we do.
Another challenge is that we have short term thinking – we focus on short term rewards and less on long term progress. We can see what technology can do for us today, this week, next week – but we can’t see clearly into the long term future as much as we would like.
We are also scared that rapid utilisation of technology will lead to massive unemployment and possibly Terminator style scenarios.
But in general we are not good at predicting things, so we are scared of stuff that is highly unlikely. However our fears come from not knowing enough.
Technology gives us a massive opportunity to do things differently and to make organisations better. It gives us a chance to think about what kind of organisation we want to be.
He gave his oft rehearsed Jurassic Park analogy to illustrate this. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” is the quote to remember here.
This means we should not copy other organisations who are successful, but focus on how we can become successful.
In the CIPD, he feels they are asking their membership to do three things.
- To be principles led. Back to the Jurassic Park analogy.
- To be evidence based. Make your decisions really sound and based on robust, relevant and proportionate data.
- To be outcomes driven. Make a difference in lots of areas in organisations, and consider how best to use our time to maximum effect.
HR will grow and reshape as a result of this. He used a great locksmith analogy to get us to focus on people’s outcomes and not how long they take to do a job.
Too often in organisations, we focus on inputs, and not outcomes. In HR, we need to take half a step back, and look at how we can make work easier and deliver better outcomes.
Stop focusing on being busy.
There followed a Q&A which lasted almost as long as the speech, and allowed DDS to cover more general topics.
One pertinent topic was whether HR are equipped with the right skillset to use the technology – and he feels that outside work we have the skills and use them, but don’t always do that within the workplace, and this seems to be a UK specific problem in that our economy is too slow because we don’t use it well enough.
And that’s the end of the conference – this has been a great experience and one I’ve been pleased to cover via three blogs and dozens of tweets, and I’ve had access to some great learning and networking opportunities.
Till next time…
PS I’ve been out early every morning this week before others have been awake, and am looking very much to being at home tomorrow.