Future of work
  • From the editors
  • 01
    Anticipate tomorrow's skills: put the people at the center of change
  • 02
    Why is it important to give employees greater autonomy in career choices?
  • 03
    Innovate to build tomorrow’s workforce
  • 04
    Putting people at the heart of the digital revolution
  • 05
    Workforce of the future: the impact of millennials in the workplace
  • 06
    From the Art of Management to Art for management
  • 07
    How to drive new technology in promising directions?

From the editors - November 06, 2018

Were you aware that professional skills are turning over every 2.5 years? Did you know that Millennials will represent more than half of the labour force in 2020? 

The time of AI and Big Data, as well as the increased connectivity and automation, have shaken up all industries and have been continuously and fundamentally transforming the way we work. The velocity of disruption generated by new technologies is the major driver of the transformation. However, this is not the sole disruptor. Whereas the lifespan of skills used by employees is shortening, the palette of the capabilities required is broadening. As a result, some jobs may disappear, but many more will be created. Technology will take an even greater part in the workplace and employees will have to adapt by constant learning and upskilling. Some corporates have already adopted new skills planning programs and tools allowing greater autonomy in training and career choices. Nonetheless, employee commitment remains at the heart of the successful workplace revolution. Considering all these trends, we asked ourselves how the actual workplace will look like tomorrow.

Thus, Focus reached out to experts from different backgrounds to detangle the complexity of the fast evolving workplace. They will provide us with a better understanding of the factors behind this transformation and share their convictions of the Future of Workforce.

Enjoy reading and we are looking forward to hear your thoughts!

Focus team
  • Future of work
  • From the editors
  • 01
    Anticipate tomorrow's skills: put the people at the center of change
  • 02
    Why is it important to give employees greater autonomy in career choices?
  • 03
    Innovate to build tomorrow’s workforce
  • 04
    Putting people at the heart of the digital revolution
  • 05
    Workforce of the future: the impact of millennials in the workplace
  • 06
    From the Art of Management to Art for management
  • 07
    How to drive new technology in promising directions?

Anticipate tomorrow's skills: put the people at the center of change

Head of Human Resources, BNP Paribas Group

The future of work will definitely include artificial intelligence, robots and automation in some shape or form. But how is the actual workplace evolving?

Yves Martrenchar, Head of Group HR at BNP Paribas, shared with us his strong beliefs about the future of workforce.

There are countless articles about a dramatic decrease in employment to come, due to artificial intelligence, robots and automation. These will indeed generate some job destruction but they will also bring about job creation. I do not believe this will lead to a sharp drop in the net number of jobs. But I am sure it will lead to a dramatic transformation of the nature of jobs; and consequently, a deep transformation of the expected skillsets.
"[...]it will lead to a dramatic transformation of the nature of jobs; and consequently, a deep transformation of the expected skillsets."
A recent worldwide study was conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute. The results are quite consistent with my belief. They found out that less than 5% of jobs are likely to be totally automated. But about 60% of jobs comprise one third of tasks that can be automated. And this is huge! In France, the "Comité d'orientation pour l'emploi" presented similar conclusions. So no dramatic net destruction of jobs, but a dramatic transformation of their content.

This is the reason why we, as corporate organisations, must anticipate and help our top managers determine their short and mid-term needs and beyond in terms of roles and related skills based on business strategy. Once we have achieved this, we will be able to analyze the gaps between the skills they currently have in their teams and those they need for the coming years. And to measure how to fill these gaps either through people training and development or recruitment HR action plans.

We must commit to supporting our employees so that they can acquire the skills required to meet our future needs. This will be made possible through continuous learning but also thanks to specific upskilling paths that will be made available to all employees willing to acquire such skills. This will allow a large part of them to develop within their enterprises.
"We must commit to supporting our employees so that they can acquire the skills required to meet our future needs."
I should add that making this commitment is not only about being responsible but it is also the most efficient and realistic way to tackle the staffing challenge we will be facing. Of course we will recruit significant numbers of people on the market. But trying to fill most of the gaps through external recruitment would be both unfair to our teams, and very difficult to achieve. Especially because of the size of the labor market compared to the gaps that most companies will be experiencing. Notably for job profiles in Digital or Data.

Being able to have such a responsible approach will also help us build engagement. Offering long term development opportunities, treating people with respect and being socially responsible are 3 of the most powerful employee engagement drivers that can also be observed in our Group BNP Paribas. Our responsible anticipation of our future needs will strongly nurture those 3 drivers, building engagement and advocacy, thus contributing to attract, develop and retain the employees we need.

Achieving this Strategic Workforce Planning is certainly one of the greatest challenges well established corporates face today. I am convinced we have the capacity to take up this challenge. And furthermore it is our duty to do it.

This article was inspired by Yves Martrenchar's post on LinkedIn. 


Why is it important to give employees greater autonomy in training and career choices?

CEO and founder MyValue and member Premium Peers

Redesigning work to allow people and technology to reach their full potential and building the culture of learning.

The transformations under way within companies, representing the fourth industrial revolution, are on an historically unprecedented scale. Large organisations that rapidly adapt their operating methods will be the most efficient over time. In particular, upcoming skills planning is a key issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

According to a survey conducted by the OECD[1], half of all jobs will be affected by automation in the coming years, with 14% being highly automatable (i.e., probability of automation of over 70%) and another 32% of jobs having between 50% and 70% of their tasks subject to automation.

Awareness of the transformation of jobs has not yet widely translated into implementing appropriate resources. According to a study conducted by Deloitte[2], for example, just 18% of companies stated that they give employees the resources to actively develop their skills and more than half of respondents said they did not have a programme for developing future skills and organising mobility.

One reason for this weak anticipation is an overly rigid approach to managing career paths, focused on positions rather than skills. One recommendation is to construct a system based on a skills repository, incorporating sufficient cross-functional skills to allow interconnections between business lines.

It is also necessary to put monitoring in place at an early stage, to develop the skills repository that the company will need and incorporate new skills. Thus large corporations incorporate the Strategic Workforce Planning. This skills base can also be used for appraisals and to construct training programmes. With the development of automation, certain skills which were highly valued in standardised process application will become less useful, since the corresponding tasks will be carried out will be automated. However, four skills will become increasingly important in the international community: Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication and Cooperation (the 4 Cs)

 Source: YouTube

Another explanation for companies stay behind competitors is the overly top-down approach to the managerial relationship which discourages employees from taking risks and exploring different options. Afraid of losing control, management is sometimes wary of giving employees the power/autonomy to position themselves and discover the skills which need to be developed. Just as the reform of vocational training in France aims to give employees the power to manage their personal training account, so career management needs to be more open. Employees regain control over their career development within the company.

New opportunities to move forward
The use of  big data by professional mobility applications [such as Monkey-Tie and Shairlock] opens a wide array of possibilities for employees and above all offers them information about the competencies needed to move on to the next level. Employees can then construct a career development plan and sign up for training relevant to one or more business lines. The possibilities created by new learning methods, combining e-learning with face-to-face learning, give companies powerful tools at a reasonable cost. Creating movement makes it easier to involve employees in business line transformations and overcome certain barriers to change.

Finally, the learning method is also in question, since our training methods in Europe have been based on knowledge acquisition (confirmed by a degree), which may be vital but is not sufficient to develop competencies. That knowledge is only effective when the employee can put combined knowledge into practice. Hands-on experience (doing) is therefore vital. Learning requires practice, which also involves experimenting. "Test and learn" is one of the keys to startups' success, as well as applying to large groups. The use of combined knowledge also requires interpersonal and behavioural skills.

Finally, the development of artificial intelligence will impact most business lines and man-machine interactions will be essential keys to success. A computer may be better at chess than the best human, but the man-machine combination is even better.

It is now urgent for everyone to be given the autonomy to construct their career development based on the company's current and future needs. The new culture of learning is fast evolving!

[1] Nedelkoska, L. and G. Quintini (2018), "Automation, skills use and training", OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 202, OECD Publishing, Paris
[2] From careers to experiences, Deloitte, March 2018


Innovate to build tomorrow’s workforce

Head of Innovation, BNP Paribas CIB
Cofounder / co-CEO of Goshaba

With today's rapidly accelerating business transformation, how could the recruitment process be reinvented? Would resumes soon be out of the game?

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. The new imperative is clear: create the future workforce. There are different levers to activate, the main ones being the acquisition by staff of new skills over time, the promotion of new ways of working, and the support of the hiring process, which constitutes a key pillar of such a plan and clearly needs to be reinvented to accompany the change.

Solveig Bachellery, Head of Innovation for Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB), explains how innovation can serve change and how the hiring process can be transformed. To illustrate this, we look at Goshaba – a start-up BNP Paribas has partnered with to reinvent the recruitment process.

Why is innovate key to accompany corporates' transformation?
Solveig Bachellery: We are currently facing a fast moving environment, driven by a technology revolution around usage of data to better understand facts and human being's decision process. The competitive landscape is and will be profoundly transformed by new competitors leveraging these new technologies (Fintechs, GAFAM). The clients' demand has also drastically evolved in expecting digital services and data-driven advisory. And last, but not least, the Banking industry is now also competing with start-ups to attract and retain talents. Indeed the employees' expectations have also changed in favour of transparency, commitment and rooms to develop talents, especially scarce resources such as Data Scientists.

As it allows generating ideas to address client's needs without any restriction and transform them into concrete solutions, innovation is key to guarantee the sustainability of our business by adapting to our ecosystem and turning this new environment into growth opportunity, motivation, well-being and commitment. This is part of BNP Paribas' core strategy - the Bank of the changing world.

Why innovation is key to attract talents?
S.B.: Along with this approach, there is also clearly a need to have a coherent hiring process. Firstly, because this is the first contact with us – BNP Paribas, so it needs to be consistent with our willingness to attract. Secondly, because we aim to continuously improve our efficiency thanks to advanced technologies, and also acquire new types of competencies. Indeed, to support this transformation, we need more technical skills related to these new technologies, as well as more soft and cognitive skills such as creativity, agility, ability to change, entrepreneurship, management capability... We also have to find efficient ways to assess those new skills, for example by using gamification processes, to make sure we are able to recruit talents rather than resumes.

Thus, as part of the transformation at BNP Paribas, during the Web Summit 2017 held in Lisbon, we collaborated with Goshaba - a start-up, reinventing the recruitment process. Goshaba was incubated as part of WAI Boost (L'Atelier BNP Paribas) and has also been a leader in other contests such as Techinnov and Viva Technology. Goshaba proposes full recruitment processes separated in different stages based on brain-training games, smart screening surveys, technical quizzes, role-playing scenarios or video interviews. These activities analyse the cognitive abilities of candidates and allow enterprises today to select  applicants for positions for which resumes do not represent fully candidates' competences - such as data scientist, big data architects, machine learning experts...

The cooperation between BNP Paribas and Goshaba during the largest tech conference in the world, allowed us to experience the hiring process through a different angle – by gamification and smart screening. A competition was set by means of games among students and young graduates, through which Goshaba identified certain candidates with specific know-hows, soft skills and cognitive abilities. Some gained access to the Web Summit conference and others continued their journey within BNP Paribas with a job-offer. Indeed, this out of ordinary recruitment method is aligned with our drive to work differently, to be agile and open to diversity.

How can innovation and diversity work hand in hand?
S.B.: Goshaba is one of the many examples how through innovation companies increase diversity at the workplace. This out of ordinary recruitment process allows the select ion of candidates with various experiences. Diversity is not only a matter of gender, it applies to anything: skills, route, experience. Looking back in time, business teams were mostly groups of people with identical profiles. This was especially the case for the AI community which was relatively small with few educational channels and favouring profile similarities. Thus, expanding the diversity and including a vast variety of backgrounds – including creative artists, writers, sociologist.., is today imperative to make sure that any business project, and especially those using AI technologies, results in a diversified output. The verdict is clear - innovation favours diversity and vice versa. 

Read more to discover how Goshaba is reinventing the hiring process and what Djamil Kemal's vision of the future of workforce is.

What is Goshaba and how did Goshaba come about?

Djamil Kemal: For the past 50 years, personality traits have been assessed mainly viaquestionnaires and interviews. Goshaba changes the paradigm. Instead of focusing on your candidates' biased declarations, we measure precise personality traits though "cognitive games" and combine the results with other evaluations that measure the candidates' experience and hard skills.

Goshaba offers a solution that automatically scores your job applicants, fast, accurately and in a totally candidates friendly way. On one single platform, you can rank your applicants, based on a full range of criteria, including work experience and hard skills but also soft skills and culture fit.

This alliance of cutting edge cognitive science, smart data and gamification comes from both luck and grit: Minh Phan and I, Djamil Kemal, had been working in the video game industry for 20 years and wanted to launch our own company focused on data. At the exact same time, Camille Morvan, one of our colleagues' sister was teaching cognitive science at Harvard and NYU had a very similar idea. We took the opportunity of this perfect timing to create Goshaba and try to overturn ages of recruitment processes.   


What is your vision of the future of workforce? 

Dj.K.: A few years ago, most of the candidates I interviewed wanted to focus on a dedicated area (marketing or sales for instance) and tried to go deeper and deeper to become experts. But the ones I interview today are much more willing to develop a broader set of skills. I see this as a consequence of one of the three trends I consider decisive in the evolution of workforce.

The first trend is the ever-growing emergence of new jobs and, as a consequence, an ever-growing need of transversal skills. When the need for growth hackers emerged, no specific degree prepared for the whole set of skills this new job requires (statistics, programing, UX, analytics, psychology, storytelling etc...). It is very likely that active and continuous learning won't just be an option anymore.

And this need of transversal and broader skills will be even more important as AI and automation, the second trend, are gathering momentum. Ultra-specialized jobs will be the first to be concerned.

The last trend I envision is the dominance of the gig economy. Because of an inherent cultural change of the new generations and more liberal social regulations, job tenures become shorter and shorter. For the recruiters, this will imply a continuous hiring process, even in slower economic periods. 

I believe that one major implication of those three trends will be for the recruiters to focus on soft skills (inc. the ability to learn). Another implication will be the need for tools that can automatically evaluate all key dimensions of a candidate (work experience, hard skills, soft skills, culture fit) and do it at scale. Luckily, it's precisely what Goshaba does.

Anything to add as a conclusion?

Dj.K.: Hiring tools are great to give the recruiters more elements and help them make better decisions. But an important caveat should be considered.

The recent GDPR (European privacy regulation) made everybody aware of the importance of data privacy. But awareness about what data are used in the hiring tools and how their algorithms function are much less discussed. Consequently, big data, deep learning and AI may lead to more discrimination and hiring mistakes i.e not only being hiring the wrong candidates but also not hiring great ones.

Indeed, most current tools harness data that are extracted from the candidates' resumes.
And yet, studies by Harvard* prove that resumes are highly subject to conscious or unconscious biases. Using big data on a wrong data set only automates and expands human's biases in ways that are very hard to audit. Moreover, in a world where soft skills will be more and more important, resumes are a very poor element of information of the candidates' ability to learn and evolve.

To opt for a more efficient and fair hiring process, shouldn't we get rid of the resumés for the preselect ion phase and only use them as a support during the interview?

Click here to read more

Putting people at the heart of the digital revolution

HR consultant
co-founder of the Hub Institute

Digital is transforming the future of work. A company's main asset is its people. Employee inclusion is a vital preliminary step to succeed in the digital transformation.

Caroline Loisel, HR consultant, and Emmanuel Vivier, co-founder of the Hub Institute, set out their vision and discuss their experiences.

How is digital transforming the future of work?

Digital is transforming methods of collaboration, training and management within companies. The digital transformation basically calls for an adjustment of everyone's attitudes on three levels, across all business sectors:
  • How we carry out our day-to-day work,
  • Professional relationships, internally and as part of a new ecosystem, 
  • Career prospects, with changes in every function. 
With businesses currently facing issues such as planned knowledge obsolescence, the acceleration of new technologies, the increase in the number of tools for focusing on high value-added tasks and the platform-based "Uberisation" of activities, eight key trends are emerging for the future of work.

All aspects of employees' work are affected by these trends. From searching for jobs to induction into the company, via recruitment and training – the digital transformation impacts the entire employee journey.

In terms of the company's transformation, from a business and strategic perspective, to what extent are those transformations accepted by employees?

Changes to the digital world imply no longer controlling everything, no longer knowing everything and ultimately encourage a rejection of the label of expert. Digital means voluntarily letting go, agreeing to always question yourself, accepting dependence on others. Digital culture changes the notion of ego and power for each individual.

The overriding reaction to this change, for all groups affected, is one of alarm. Change pushes everyone out of their comfort zone and the mechanical part of our brain is conditioned to go into protected mode. To shield themselves, many people hide behind "beliefs" which allow them – if only for a short time – to feel that they are unaffected by the change happening around them. Everyone constructs their limiting beliefs based on their experience, age and background.

Since our actions are the result of our beliefs, to affect behaviour it is important to begin by understanding those beliefs in order to work with them and transform them.

How can the company mitigate those beliefs and enable employees to adapt their work at their own pace and according to their background?

In change management, it is fundamental to understand not only the state of the business but also people's mind-sets. The company's performance relies on the individual performance of each of its employees. The success of the company's transformation is therefore dependent on including those employees.

In order to involve everyone at every stage in the transformation – since every business line is affected – it is vital to take into account everyone's beliefs and implement actions to mitigate them. Without completely removing them, this "cushioning" exercise allows everyone to experience "their" change more smoothly.

Four types of action are possible in this respect: 
  • Co-construction through listening and collective intelligence 
  • Understanding through sharing the challenges of the new business ecosystem
  • Openness through visiting other companies and organisations which have already evolved their ways of working, organising and collaborating 
  • Experimentation – the final stage – to simulate the environment for the new working methods and take the first step towards implementing them
At the Hub Institute, we work with companies on their transformation by focusing on the human aspects. For example, this approach was adopted in 2016 by a large company in the media sector. A jointly developed support process and three-day training course were rolled out to 2500 employees, from assistants to managers. The objective was to provide a better understanding of the latest strategic challenges facing the company, to address the reality of an increasingly digital world and to develop tools to enable each individual to embrace the new shape of their business and their daily work. 

This article is also available in French. 


Workforce of the future: the impact of millennials in the workplace

Co-founder at RAISE France and President of Women's Forum
Chief editor at Press4Kids

We spoke to Clara Gaymard and her daughter Bérénice Bringsted on how they see the world of work. How will they cooperate to build the business of the future?

From family to business, the values espoused by millennials are having a profound impact. In this interview, Clara and Bérénice, from the post-baby boomer generation and Generation Y respectively, compare their viewpoints and discuss their book, published by Plon, Faut qu'on parle! Le monde a changé [We need to have a chat! The world has changed]*.

Tell us about the book you have co-authored – why did you decide to write it together? 

Bérénice Bringsted: It was originally my mum's idea. Mum, you were hearing a lot of criticism of millennials, also known as Generation Y, although you found them quite bold. There are big disagreements between your generation and mine, causing a lot of resentment on both sides. Without a doubt, this reflects the profound social transformations of our era..

Clara Gaymard: Whereas we were often in conflict with our elders, I find that my generation gets on well with its children. However, behind this apparent harmony lurk enormous misunderstandings, since millennials share different values from us.
When I was 20, work was a means of achieving freedom. Now, even young people who graduate from top universities want to become freelancers! Millennials prefer to accept a level of risk – not knowing what the next day will bring – in order to have the freedom to live their lives differently. They have very different approaches to security and status. 
From my point of view, diversity is a key strength. It is possible to disagree about something but to work very well together. Well-established companies need to understand that millennials are beneficial in managing disruption within the company. That is where the idea for this book came from.
"Well-established companies need to understand that millennials are beneficial in managing disruption within the company."

Clara, how do you see Generation Y? 

C.G.: As a director, two attitudes stood out for me among millennials.
Firstly, their willingness to question the world and their curiosity. The "work ethic" seems to have been replaced by the "creativity ethic". 
Along with their unwillingness to accept a top-down hierarchy, they are confident in what they believe in and are certain they can challenge established processes and structures. 
But although they may only be 25, millennials can teach us a thing or two. They have no time for the formality of baby-boomers. They challenge the things we took for granted and are much more capable of successfully navigating a jumbled mass of information. This is a completely new way of reasoning, almost a new civilisation.

Bérénice, what do you think about what your mother has said, in light of your own professional experience? 

B.B.: I am part of the generation that entered the employment market after the crisis of 2008. It seems clear that it's no longer possible to simply rely on your career to get a foot on the social ladder. Our attitude is perceived as arrogant, whereas it stems from genuine frustration. 
But I think that companies are beginning to adapt. There is a growing awareness and flexibility. The fact that we have been invited to discuss our book by so many companies also reflects the scale of this movement.

Bérénice, in your opinion, what do millennials want from the workplace? 

B.B.: I would identify four key elements:
  • The meaning attached to our work. As Millennials we want to feel that we can change the world, even in a small way. That is fundamental. Ecology is a good example of responsibilities equal to their skills. Motivation is a vital factor.
  • Quality of life. We have seen our parents exhaust themselves at work, in a symbiotic relation with the company. Work provided security and status. Today, we no longer identify ourselves solely by our job – we've inherited a great deal of caution regarding that. 
  • Remuneration is no longer universally important. There has been a shift in the value of money. For my generation, the ways in which we consume have been completely transformed by new technologies, the collaborative economy and the use of smartphones. 
  • And finally kindness, which is vital in the company, especially since the human dimension improves the quality of everyone's work. 

What advice would you give to companies to attract and retain millennials?

B.B.: I think you need to be honestYou need to have a relationship of trust, be on an equal footing and be able to express yourself freely towards your manager: "I suggest this. What could you do?", "I would like to do this. Do you trust me? And if not, why not?" 
And our generation also has very different skills from your generation, Mum! Yes, we grew up with the internet and new technologies, but above all it's a matter of agility and being at ease with the new behaviours which have sprung up. To retain young people, it is vital to harness those skills.
"(...) above all it's a matter of agility and being at ease with the new behaviours which have sprung up."
C.G.: I think it is important to respect the human factor. Remove the sense of guilt from the employee. Having worked in the United States for 10 years, it seems to me that there is more respect for the work-life balance there. This aspect is still lacking in French culture. I was very interested in Cynthia Fleury's book, Les Irremplaçables [The Irreplaceables]. Everyone must feel that they are "irreplaceable", everyone plays a vital role in the sustainability of a social [i.e. democratic,ed.] organisation. Instead of wanting to change processes, managers must learn to develop a new approach to human interactions. 

Clara, in your experience, have large companies already begun launching these types of initiative? 

C.G.: Some companies, particularly in the telecoms and hotel sectors, have understood the urgency of embracing change as a way of defending themselves, by incorporating millennials and working with start-ups. All sectors will need to face this issue sooner or later. 
Raise, for instance, has brought together Henri de Castries, the former CEO of Axa, and Paolin Pascot, a young start-upper who created Agriconomie, a market place for farmers. At just 28 years old and with a laid-back look, Paolin has been able to present his vision of the world and convince a former CEO of a CAC 40 company of the benefits of his project. At the end of the day, legitimacy is based on competency. Although it may be less conventional, this generation is able to provide a new impetus, another approach to business models. 
The greatest virtue of a senior manager today is to be humble. The challenge is no longer having the knowledge, but being able to organise how that knowledge is shared.

Clara, do you have anything to add? 

C.G.: A question actually. In order to reconcile these two generations, won't 40-somethings have a vital role to play? Aren't they in the best position to understand seniors and communicate with millennials?

*The book is currently available in French only.

From the Art of Management to Art for management

The Boson Project

Giving new meaning to the art of leadership. The leader of tomorrow - a hybrid being, part thinker and part doer.

In this complex, rapid and unpredictable world, to design the company of the future we need leaders capable of thinking outside the box and approaching problems laterally and analytically – rounded leaders for a complex world.

And what if the leader of tomorrow was neither an expert nor a manager, but an artist? A hybrid being, part thinker and part doer, with a background in the abstract world of art but still with both feet on the ground. With his or her head in the clouds but with a firm grip on the fundamentals of life.

Fusing different worlds: a multifaceted leader.

The term "artist" could be used to describe a person able to create hybrid objects, drawing inspiration from various "disciplines" and "techniques". We can be experts in plastic arts, drawing or the guitar, but the true artist is the one who exceeds and crosses the different disciplines. 

This ability to transcend the mental barriers which are so common in our society is vital in periods of transition such as ours. We have long thought in terms of "expertise" and sought out leaders who are the best in their discipline – the best lawyers, the best at remembering, the best at reciting, the best at demonstrating or the best at maths. It is now time for a systemic approach, complex thought, critical thinking and cross-fertilisation. Those able to inform in the future must reflect tomorrow's world by being complete and hybrid. The days of OR OR are over. Welcome to AND AND. We are in the era of the multifaceted leader.
"The days of OR OR are over. Welcome to AND AND. We are in the era of the multifaceted leader. "
Mathematician and philosopher, musician and psychologist, writer and admiral, DJ and militant, painter and speech therapist... In their personal construction, in their lifestyle and the way in which they practice their art, artists often have this ability to cross over into other disciplines.

Expressing humanity: an authentic leader

In a world in which information is just a click away, leaders are more than ever bound by a duty of transparency in their communications. This requirement makes the boundary between professional and private life more porous and highlights any dissimulation. We expect our leaders to be dependable and consistent in their personal and professional lives, to have integrity and not claim to be infallible. Gone are the days of superheroes, cold in their perfection. We now need women and men who acknowledge their weaknesses and vulnerability, who express their emotions – from joy to doubts and regrets.

Given this new set of rules, leadership – like artistry – must not be reduced to a single skill or "talent". It becomes intimately linked to a self-assured, sincere and fully rounded personality which is convincing and generates emotion, an authenticity which reassures and will enable the leader to win trust.

Taking a stand: a committed leader

This extraordinary transformation we are living through is disruptive, creating new models, values and ways of doing things, encouraging everyone to give new meaning to their choices and actions. Companies can no longer restrict themselves to being simply "economically viable objects" since now, more than ever, they need the holy grail of employee commitment and the ability to provide an answer to their search for meaning. Companies that strive for growth for growth's sake or ignore their ecosystem are increasingly outdated.
More is therefore expected of leaders in terms of their choices and convictions. They must embrace causes, adopt strong positions, perhaps instilling in their organisations that extra soul which will make the difference, make the effort worthwhile and inspire loyalty.
"In the future we will all need to be artists, at the intersection of different worlds[...]"
In the future we will all need to be artists, at the intersection of different worlds, between the tangible and the intangible, the logical and the emotional, discipline and indulgence, with the ability to "hack" our brains and our certainties to see things laterally, based on gut-feeling and convictions.

This article, collectively written by The Boson Project, is also available in French


How to drive new technology in promising directions? An old story repeating itself

Group Chief Economist, BNP Paribas Group

William De Vijlder, BNP Paribas' Chief Economist, gives an insight into the positive footprint of technology on the economy, the workplace and the society today.

Using a search engine for the topic 'robot anxiety' provides many articles about psychological barriers in using robots. What better illustration of the increasingly important role robots play in the economy, both manufacturing and services. When I was looking for references about robot anxiety I was more thinking of concern, not to say fear, about the introduction of robots, and what this may imply in terms of job losses. The two interpretations of robot anxiety can be considered as the two sides of the same coin: modern economies need robots but they also need to adapt to the increasing use of robots. Broadening the discussion to the economic consequences of technological innovation, it is useful to start outside the field of economics and to look at technology.

Simply put, technological progress is unstoppable so this makes the application of inventions unavoidable. This implies that government should not only focus on how to cope with the negative consequences of technological change (not all consequences are positive), but also on stimulating research, the objective being to foster the value creation in the country at large. In the end everybody becomes a stakeholder: researchers for their recognition and the financing that goes with it, companies which innovate, their financiers, their staff, and the government directly or indirectly. These benefits will in turn contribute to the growth of taxable income which is necessary to finance infrastructure, stimulate R&D but also to pay for the costs of ageing. Hence, it is clear that technological progress and its impact on productive efficiency is not only unavoidable, it is also necessary, it is an objective of economic policy and is part of the solution to the challenges of an ageing society with a slowing potential growth rate.
"Hence, it is clear that technological progress and its impact on productive efficiency is not only unavoidable, it is also necessary, it is an objective of economic policy and is part of the solution to the challenges of an ageing society with a slowing potential growth rate."
How come then that a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center published in 2017 showed that 72% of Americans are worried about a future where robots and computers can do many human jobs?[1]

One can argue that we have been there before.
luddites smashing a loom
             Luddites smashing a loom in 1812

Indeed, considering technological progress as a threat has a long history, think of the Luddites in the UK in the early 19th century demolishing textile machines. The US Congress in 1964 authorised a National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress, charged with a study of past and current effects of technological change and to make recommendations on how to channel new technology in promising directions. One of its conclusions was "To say that technological change does not bear major responsibility for the general level of unemployment is not to deny the role of technological change in the unemployment of particular persons in particular occupations, industries, and locations. Economic and technological changes have caused and will continue to cause displacement throughout the economy. Technological change, along with other changes, determines who will be displaced." [2]

More recently, we have seen a proliferation of books and studies about the impact of robotisation and machine learning and the broad media coverage they have received has made people at large aware of what may come. Against this background it is comforting to see in the Pew Research Center survey that "few of today's workers expect that their own jobs or professions are at risk of being automated. In total, just 30% of workers think it's at least somewhat likely that their jobs will be mostly done by robots or computers during their lifetimes":  worried at a macro level, relaxed at the micro level. Governments and companies should reflect upon this puzzling result: are households overestimating how safe they are? If so, will they make the necessary investments in training and skills upgrading so as to be easily redeployed if they would lose their job after all? Joseph Schumpeter explained in the early 1940s the disruptive nature of innovations. The innovator gains a competitive edge and makes abnormal profits: 'abnormal' because higher than the incumbents thanks to the use of new technology, but also abnormal from a longer term perspective. Indeed, eventually, imitators will erode the competitive advantage of the innovator and his profitability, which will decline and hence normalise. This process which is rooted in creativity and the capacity and courage to innovate is highly disruptive. Incumbents may be driven out of business with huge consequences for employment. Innovation creates jobs demanding new skills but destroys other.

The theory of creative destruction may be about 80 years old but the broad principles still stand: robotisation, automation, artificial intelligence create enormous value for some (the innovator is rewarded for his intelligence, vision, risk taking and entrepreneurship) and has benefits for society at large: lower prices implying increased purchasing power, productivity gains, new job opportunities, investment possibilities, an increase in the tax base. However, for many other it poses huge challenges. People losing their job may struggle to find a new one, because of skills mismatches, age, geographical immobility, etc. Interestingly, population ageing may help in alleviate the impact of this displacement effect. The declining labour force in Japan has created a supply shortage on the labour market and contributed to a significant increase in the participation rate of elderly people. Many western countries are expected to follow Japan's lead. Already today, admittedly for cyclical reasons, find people to fill vacancies has become the dominating concern of companies in the US, Europe and of course Japan. It is to be expected that the structural factors described above will contribute to this going forward.
"[...] robotisation, automation, artificial intelligence create enormous value for some [...] and have benefits for society at large: lower prices implying increased purchasing power, productivity gains, new job opportunities, investment possibilities, an increase in the tax base [...]"
So perhaps there is less reason for concern in the aggregate about the capacity of an economy to cope with the labour market impact of automation and the focus should shift to the micro level. All this supposes however that the education system delivers people with the right degrees (who identifies and flags future needs?), that skills can be upgraded as need be, that people can make profound career changes and get the necessary training. This also raises the question about who finances this adjustment. In addition to this allocation problem (dynamic skills matching) there is also a distribution problem with the necessity to include those who cannot be easily redeployed. Vision will be required but also communication skills so as to avoid that the focus on the supposed threat of technological change would lead to an inward-looking, defensive, mercantilist approach which in the longer run would become self-defeating.

[1] Automation in everyday life, Pew Research Center, 4 October 2017
[2] Technology and the American Economy, Volume I, 1966, National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress, Washington, DC
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