Cutting-Edge Talent Development: Staying on Top of New Workplace Innovations

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Developing talent in a new workplace is a constantly evolving strategic function. New trends are driving the need to rewrite the rules. The rise of tech breakthroughs in the workplace has only accelerated the progression.

But when everything is constantly changing, what does it mean to be cutting edge?

I strongly believe that if we can think about the future and start acting in the present, we can shape this future and anticipate some of the challenges we will face tomorrow. Some outcomes should be emphasized by all of us when designing and implementing global solutions on developing talents.

Today, we need a new set of digital business and working skills. Companies should focus more heavily on career strategies, talent mobility, and organizational ecosystems and networks to facilitate both individual and organizational reinvention. The issue will not be only the reskilling of professions and the development pipeline; instead, we all must look at leadership models, structures, diversity, technology, and the overall employee experience in new and exciting ways.

Following is a discussion of three of these trends; I’ve also shared some ideas on how we can overcome the challenges for creating a new organization for tomorrow—starting today!

Trend One: Disruptive Technologies: Advances That Will Transform Life, Business, and the Global Economy

Today, we see many rapidly evolving, potentially transformative technologies on the horizon—spanning information technologies, biological sciences, material science, energy, and other fields.

Disruptive technologies typically demonstrate a rapid rate of change in capabilities in terms of price and performance relative to substitutes and alternative approaches, or they experience breakthroughs that drive accelerated rates of change or discontinuous capability improvements. Gene-sequencing technology, for example, is advancing at a rate even faster than computer processing power and could soon make possible inexpensive desktop sequencing machines. Advanced materials technology is experiencing significant breakthroughs, like the artificial production of graphene, a nanomaterial with extraordinary properties including strength and conductivity.


Technologies that matter have the potential to dramatically change the status quo. They can transform how people live and work, create new opportunities or shift surplus for businesses, and drive growth or change the comparative advantage of nations. Next-generation genomics has the potential to transform how doctors diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases, potentially extending lives. Energy storage technology could change how, where, and when we use energy. So, we must create different and disruptive ways of transforming talent—having humans work together with new-generation computers, cognitive-era machines capable of doing and learning.

Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural user interfaces are making it possible to automate many knowledge worker tasks that have long been regarded as impossible or impractical for machines to perform. For instance, some computers can answer unstructured questions, so employees or customers without specialized training can get information on their own.

This opens up possibilities for sweeping change in how knowledge work is organized and performed. As sophisticated analytics tools can be used to augment the talents of highly skilled employees, and as more knowledge worker tasks can be done by machine, it is possible that some types of jobs could become fully automated.

Trend Two: Global Leadership Seeks to Quantify the Value of Innovation

Measures of innovation at the corporate level can be difficult, perhaps due to the complex nature of multiple facets involved with true breakthroughs and the economic value of emerging technologies. When trying to answer the question, “What is the top metric used by large and medium-sized corporations, as well as venture capitalists?” there’s no single answer. In order to gauge the value of innovation, there were varying views, specially identified by the new-generation leaders—who will have to quantify the value of innovation.

Business digitization may create corporate reputation challenges, as we have seen with news headlines driven by cyber breaches. Social media is another important angle at a time that the consumer has more power than ever to influence brand perception.


It is not surprising that new technologies make certain forms of human labor unnecessary or economically uncompetitive and create demand for new skills. This has been a repeated phenomenon since the Industrial Revolution: the mechanical loom marginalized home weaving while creating jobs for mill workers. However, the extent to which today’s emerging technologies could affect the nature of work is striking.

Automated knowledge work tools will almost certainly extend the powers of many types of workers and help drive top-line improvements with innovations and better decision making, but they could also automate some jobs entirely. Advanced robotics could make more manual tasks subject to automation, including in services where automation has had less impact until now.

Business leaders and policy makers will need to find ways to realize the benefits of these technologies while creating new, innovative ways of working and providing new skills to the workforce.

We will have to provide—again—new models for developing leadership. Maybe we will have to get back to school, and create new platforms to stimulate sharing, collective learning, and use of storytelling. One point is crucial: We will have to reinvent the pipeline of leadership, recreating the environment that provides learning and development. That is what leaders from new generations strongly need—and are waiting for.

Trend Three: Employment Branding

Employment branding isn’t just another HR phrase or word—it’s the only way for companies in the digital age to provide the transparency required by job seekers and portray their brands accurately in the market to potential employees. In fact, more than 80 percent of leaders acknowledge that employer branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire talent, according to the LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2017 report.

While most companies have adjusted customer service in the digital age, too many are overlooking an even more powerful audience when it comes to recruiting a skilled workforce: their own employees. Employees have the potential to be your biggest supporters, or worst critics. And they can greatly affect how skilled candidates view your company, corporate culture, and brand, even before they apply for a job.

Companies that prioritize employment branding benefit significantly. Fortune 500 companies with a top 10 employment brand ranking had combined revenues four times greater than organizations ranked in the bottom 10. A strong employment brand attracts high-performing employees, who contribute to your company’s innovation, drive better customer satisfaction, and increase productivity.

About the Author

President of MOT, a consulting company based in Miami, Lisbon (Portugal) and São Paulo,(Brazil). Chairman of the ASTD Advisory Board in 2010 (ICE Chicago). Technical Director for ABTD (the Brazilian T&D Association). Author of 10 business books. Co-author of ASTD Sales Management Handbook and ASTD Management Handbook. International business consultant experience in implementing blended learning programs and human resources projects, in more than 120 companies, and in 25 countries.

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