20% Tech 80% Human: why we need to go back to our roots to drive change


In the ever-evolving landscape of business, organisations are facing a new frontier with the advent of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI). This transformative technology is reshaping the way we work, compelling companies to reconsider their operational models, talent management, and workforce strategies. As organisations strive to remain competitive, they must tackle the dual challenge of up skilling their workforce to harness the potential of GenAI while also making tough decisions about workforce size and structure.

While GenAI offers unprecedented opportunities for innovation, efficiency and personalisation, it also brings forth a set of challenges that most aren’t read to address. These include the up skilling of workforces to embrace changes rather than resist them, retaining talented team members when the writing is on the wall about future team sizes and structures, and the leadership skills needed to help multi-generational workforces continuously adapt. 

The machines may be coming, but they haven’t replaced us yet, nor are they likely to. Teams who embrace and leverage the technological capability at our fingertips, rather than shy away from it for fear of being replaced, have a disproportionate advantage in a rapidly changing environment. Yet across all industries there is fear and resistance. 

Effective change in organisations is 20% tech and 80% people, yet we invest our time and resources in the former. In this article we’ll dig into the human skills needed to drive the transformation organisations are looking for. 

We're already augmenting, now is the time to double down on what we do best - be human.

AI won't take your job. Somebody using AI will take your job.

Up skilling: AI & IQ vs Humans & EQ

There are already smarter Large Language Models (LLMs) out there than most humans. Anything we can do from academic intelligence (IQ) perspective,  the machines can already do better. When it comes to emotional intelligence  (EQ), including self awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy, however, humans are still way ahead. This is critical as the EQ skillset is what fuels creativity, engagement and connection. All critical for any organisation looking to serve customers, innovate and build whole new sectors and product lines we haven’t even imagined yet. 

The future of work will involve less of the mundane tasks we all love to gripe about but continue to cling to as a vestige of our relevance, and a whole lot more value adding activities and heightened productivity. But in order for us to achieve this, we need our teams to adopt the tools available, build their capabilities, and stetch outside of their comfort zone. 

The need for up skilling is not just about staying current with technological advancements; it’s about ensuring that employees can contribute meaningfully in a GenAI-driven environment. Organisations must invest in comprehensive training programs that not only cover the technical aspects of GenAI but also foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. This approach will not only prepare employees for the immediate changes but also equip them with the mindset to embrace future innovations, even drive them.

The foundation of this needs to be getting back in touch with what makes us human. There is a plethora of digital learning out there, yet studies show that only 5-15% of “students” complete them, and since the pandemic drop out rates of online courses has soared to 96%. Don’t get me wrong, the availability of digital training resources is a critical part of any future workforce up skilling programme, but we’re missing the human connection element that keeps people coming back for more. Hybrid, or “Omni-channel” programmes that unleash and empower your peoples’ skills and strengths are the route to successful adaptation.   

Retaining Talent in the Age of GenAI

As organisations navigate the integration of GenAI, retaining top talent becomes more crucial than ever. The most talented team members are often the ones who can quickly adapt to new technologies and drive innovation. However, with the pressure to streamline operations and potentially reduce workforce size, organisations face the delicate balance of maintaining a lean team while ensuring that they do not lose their key players. Those who can move often will, especially when they see smaller teams and potentially less opportunities for progression in the future as hierarchies flatten.

In addition to the table stakes of compensation and career path, creating a work environment that values creativity, collaboration, and employee well-being can significantly enhance retention efforts. Weaving this into your up skilling programme and providing talent with visibility, sponsorship and a sense of being something bigger than themselves increases retention and talent satisfaction. 

Leading into ambiguity 

One thing we can be sure of is that the pact of change is only going to increase, most likely exponentially. The requirements of a successful leader have evolved considerably over the past five years and they will continue to do so. Up skilling leaders to be authentic, coach rather than dictate, and build the relationships skills to unleash the potential of multigenerational teams will be critical to any organisation’s success, regardless of whether they plan to undergo an AI evolution. 

The rise of GenAI is a clarion call for organisations to evolve. By prioritising the up skilling of their workforce, implementing thoughtful talent retention strategies, and building future leaders, businesses can navigate the challenges of this new era. The organisations that succeed will be those that view these challenges not as obstacles but as catalysts for growth and innovation. Embracing this change will not only prepare organisations for the present but also set them up for future success in an increasingly GenAI driven world.

You should speak to us.  

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