September 2021
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TD Magazine

Team Up With Technology

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

On high-performing teams, there's no competition between humans and machines.

As technological advancements continue to influence and affect today's business world, experts are forecasting a countertrend that may bring more human elements back to work. According to the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, many organizations concluded during the pandemic that employees—not technology—were the most critical factors to sustainability.


The report, which surveyed 6,000 professionals around the world, also reveals that employers are shifting from emphasizing efficiency to prioritizing learning, which is pushing executives to rethink technology's role in the workplace.

In the report, researchers forecast superteams—"combinations of people and technology leveraging their complementary capabilities to pursue outcomes at a speed and scale not otherwise possible"—as a trend that will sweep across the workforce. Superteams demonstrate how employees and technology can work best together to achieve organizational goals. Note: These teams are unlikely at companies that use advances in artificial intelligence and other technologies as tools and automation enablers.

The study affirms that executives increasingly are recognizing that technology, no matter how advanced, has its limitations. Just because a process or procedure can be automated does not mean it should be. Researchers highlight the example of Walmart, where the retailer's analysts found that staff could cost-effectively manage on-shelf products the same as robots.


Plus, humans add irreplicable value for employers. "Today's environment of extreme dynamism calls for a degree of courage, judgment, and flexibility that only humans and teams led by humans can bring," the report states. Researchers note that human teams are built for adaptability as opposed to predictability. In organizations where superteams flourish, technology becomes another collaborator and team member.

Researchers hypothesize that superteams have the "potential to rearchitect work, leveraging technology to elevate teams' ability to learn, create, and perform in new ways to achieve better outcomes." They encourage leaders to widen their view of technology's greater transformative power, rather than rely on it to handle the work employees already do.

About the Author

Derrick Thompson is a former writer/editor for ATD.

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