The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be…

American baseball Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra said many years ago, “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Never has that been more true than 2020, one of the weirdest and wildest years in memory. The COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, social justice issues, and many other challenges have only served to underscore the acceleration and inevitability of significant changes in societies around the world. In turn, these trends are having a profound impact on the future of work, HR, and leadership. 

There is a growing need for data, facts, and science in virtually all professions. A technology revolution is changing the way work gets done. Human/ machine collaboration (or conflict), algorithms, artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning, and robotics are upending job security and entire labor markets. The workforce is becoming increasingly gigified, with work often being performed by people who are not our employees. The expectations of workers to work on what they want, when they want, with whom they want, and from anywhere they want is exploding – especially since the coronavirus necessitated the move to remote work almost overnight in many organizations and industries.

If you are an HR or business leader, the expectations that others have of you are changing radically and rapidly. Here are four essential capabilities you will need to build yourself or buy elsewhere…

·         Lead change and make it happen, don’t just facilitate or observe it

·         Know the value chain by which your business makes money because, chances are, that value chain is being significantly challenged and reconfigured

·         Use data analytics to inform your decision-making and to turn insights into action, but don’t hide behind data as a substitute for good judgment or courageous and empathetic leadership

·         Embrace the mindshift, skillshift, and flexibilityshift required to drive the remote work revolution, as well as to create the organization and team culture needed to balance virtual work with good old-fashioned face to face human interaction

As an HR person or business leader, you can’t be great at everything. But, you can be smart enough to recognize that the work we do, the workforce that does it, and the workplace where it gets done are all changing fast. 

If the future really ain’t what it used to be, will you be closing the gaps in skills development that the new future demands, or holding on to the past? That is the most important leadership choice you will make over the next few years. Choose wisely, and move quickly.



Ian Ziskin

President, EXec EXcel Group LLC

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