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Using Learning as an Accelerator for the Future of Work

As leaders how do we successfully lead through and to the future of work?

Over the last three years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way that we view our organization's people, processes, and procedures. Since the beginning of the global pandemic, there has been a surge in enterprise automation adoption, which has significantly impacted the occupational mix, including transforming the nature of many individuals' work.

Beyond COVID-19 adaptations to the workforce, technological solutions have continued to rapidly pervade our work lives. Highly skilled employees are experiencing the strongest growth. The economy's uncertainty through employee illness, turnover, and labor shortages has pushed us to focus on the jobs we need to create and not the ones we could protect. Middle and low-skilled jobs are at the highest risk. Artificial Intelligence is being quickly embedded into our workflows and business models.

Focus on the Big Picture

Utilizing the 3-Box Solution by Vijay Govindarajan helps to compartmentalize today’s possibilities and tomorrow’s probabilities logically. This simple and powerful model guides leaders strategically accept drastic changes to the current state to open capacity for future innovation. 

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Ready or Not: the Future of Work is Here

Effective digital transformation first requires enhancing the core of the system to an organization’s mission, vision, and purpose; and second, building new systems that technologically enable organizations to thrive in a digital-first marketplace. Traditional organizational structures and hierarchies could inhibit innovation. Successful digital business innovation has enabled work-from-home productivity. Letting go of old habits and mindsets opens organizational capacity and capability to innovation, enabling worker productivity through tools such as mobile, data access, and AI-assisted processes. A technical-mediated workplace meets customer expectations, provides all access to organizational assets, and transforms business and/or processes. It is about data-driven decisions and exceeding expectations!

Embrace Change Leadership

Keeping a relentless focus on the employee and customer experience is core to an organization’s business to maintain peak profitability. For organizations to manage disruptive change with minimal employee trauma, psychological safety is required and compassionate communication.

The limits of some change management models and programs could inhibit innovation. The fallacy that adding technology will simply make organizations better could inhibit innovation. Automating broken systems does not fix them.

Seeking to have both change management and change leadership helps to create the most valuable experience for our customers and employees.

  • Change leadership is the strategic outlook of disruption and innovation
  • Change management is the tactical practicalities of integrating new digital strategies

Change leadership empowers employees to think of people first and technology second. It enables positive meaningful employee and customer interactions. Amy Edmondson, a leading Harvard Business School researcher on psychological safety, defines it as “perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace.” When people feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable, they can be creative and innovative.

Using Learning as an Accelerator

An agile cultural mindset achieves decreases in the learning curve, increases in the ROI of new initiatives, and improvements to user experience. Managers can focus on clear and frequent communication of the organization’s core values, mission, and purpose. Organizations become places where employee development is a reality through upskilling, reskilling, career development, and workplace training. We are on the precipice of technological integration, accelerating career development.

Organizations willing to let go of traditional learning delivery mechanisms in favor of digital adoption platforms gain better insight into their employees. Efficient contextualized learning supports self-directed career development. As stated, low-skilled jobs are decreasing due to automation. Workers know it and are demanding the security of learning and development. Employees recognize they are viewed as worthy when growth and development is a fundamental organizational value. Learning is engaging, and employees prefer work environments that are engaging.


COVID-19 and several technological advances have accelerated us into the ‘future of work.’ Leaders worldwide are adopting an agile growth mindset investing in employees’ abilities and the community’s sustainability. Their actions are saying loudly: "You are part of our future." Learning holds the key to keeping employee engagement levels high and harness employees' support in implementing the changes. Let us lead bravely and proudly, fostering a sense of stability and belonging as we move forward into the future of work.


Download Your Ultimate Playbook for Change Management Success Today!

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About Author

Dr. Christina Barss
Dr. Christina Barss

Dr. Christina Barss is an experienced industry subject matter expert in improvement sciences and organizational culture change. Her unique blend of practical, academic, and art perspectives creates custom operational and employee engagement solutions that transform the bottom line. For example, her PhD in sustainable systems design focused on disparately located interprofessional teams in transition during lean transformation at a large, midwestern, urban, academic medical center. Dr. Barss' 12 years in healthcare were filled leading strategic enterprise-level initiatives to improve patient safety, quality, service, and innovation as well as teaching and coaching executives. From C-suite to frontline, she connects seamlessly and guides others in building trust bridges. Her continuous improvement science foundation began in the manufacturing industry. She presents nationally and internationally on design thinking, change management, organizational culture, corporate learning, executive education, and succession planning.

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