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Zooming out to take a long-term view of the trends shaping human capital and business can help leaders set priorities for reinvention.
This year’s Global Human Capital Trends report argues that, to create value as a social enterprise in today’s dynamic and demanding environment, organizations must reinvent themselves—with a human focus—on three fronts: the workforce, the organization, and HR. The 10 trends we highlight in these areas are of immediate concern to business and HR executives, issues on which leaders are being pushed to act today. But where will they take organizations five or 10 years from now, when the forces now at work have had more time to play out?
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To set priorities for reinvention, we suggest that leaders first “zoom out” to envision their organization, its challenges, and its place in society in 10 years’ time, considering where they want the organization to be as well as the factors that may help or hinder its progress. Accordingly, we invite readers to “zoom out” with us to think about what each of the three areas for reinvention—the workforce, the organization, and HR—might look like, or should look like, a decade ahead. Then, leaders can “zoom in” to identify two or three key initiatives in one or more of these areas that they can undertake within the next six to 12 months. These initiatives should be designed to solve short-term problems in a manner that will accelerate the path to the organization’s long-term destination.1
Over the next 10 years, perhaps less, many organizations will redesign jobs to better enable their people to work alongside smart machines, robots, and new forms of off-balance-sheet talent (from freelancers to gig workers to crowds). Organizational leaders and public sector policymakers should ask a range of critical questions to help guide and govern this reinvention of the workforce, including:
Organizational strategies and cultures have been undergoing a dramatic shift from hierarchies and “command and control” mindsets to people practices that use empowered networks of teams to enable enterprise agility. As this shift continues, we see several areas where organizational leaders may need to reinvent their strategies and structures:
Work and organizations will still exist in 10 years, though likely in new forms. What about HR? How will the mission and work of HR evolve? A number of open questions can be posed about the future for HR and its role in people and workforce management:
Reinvention with a human focus offers a path forward through the challenges and uncertainties facing organizational and HR leaders. We see the future belonging to leaders who can look ahead and define a destination that works for their organizations, their customers, their people, and society at large. Zooming out and zooming in, and asking hard questions about the trends affecting organizations today and tomorrow, is critical to moving forward.