Tag: Organisational Development

Capability Development and The Future of Work

Building Progressive Capabilities to Support New Business Models

Can you imagine the experience of staying in a fully automated and robot-serviced hotel? Driverless cars? ‘Remote’ surgeries across continents? We soon could be as forecast in a recent report from PwC: The future of work – A journey until 2022. The disruption of our future work patterns, practices and places is everywhere at the moment and is set to be one of the most significant areas of change over the next five years. This leads squarely into the need to look for new innovations and, specifically, the range of capabilities required in order to remain relevant and optimise those innovations.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

Organisations are seeking new business models to evolve to in order to build opportunity in a challenging environment; in itself an opportunity for major innovation, this is also driving an imperative for capability development. It has been forecast that 65% of the jobs our primary age children will be doing have not yet been created. The World Economic Forum’s Jobs of the Future report referred to a Fourth Industrial Revolution, predicting a potential net loss of 5.1 million jobs -largely from the office and administrative job functions – with gains in computer and mathematical; and architecture and engineering related fields. Coupled with changes in the way that work is undertaken, such as increasing flexibility, the rise of freelance workers and ongoing globalisation within emerging markets, capability development is a major differential in organisational competitiveness.

Important Tips on Capability Development

As many businesses are embarking on a major journey of change that is focused on building progressive capabilities to support innovations and new business models, the following tips are important:

  • Language is critical in capability development. We need to speak a positive language which builds skills and capabilities, and breeds a positive mindset linked to the vision, values and leadership behaviours that form part of the high-performance culture;
  • One size does not fit all; there is always a need to shape and adapt capabilities for an organisation, whether it be in defining them or building learning and development plans around them. Off-the-shelf programs rarely cut it, customised and ‘fit for purpose’ capability development is required to embrace opportunities;
  • Ensure clarity of communication; capability development is about supporting the growth of culture, a mindset of change and providing relevant learning opportunities. Address the ‘why’ we are doing it first and then the ‘what’s in it for me question;
  • Align to HR strategy; ensure that capability development underpins the strategic drivers of the business and is embedded across the range of people processes.

In any great hotel, many would agree that the ‘awesome’ in service comes from a blend of finely tuned attention to detail and fantastic experiences. Capability drives this kind of business model and it is hard to imagine robots would replace humans as such; nothing is ever this black and white. However, there is no doubt that a multitude of important factors, including rapid technological advancement, will push organisations to evolve their thinking and approach to future growth. Investment in building the right capabilities to support this evolution is crucial to such innovation and creating a platform for success.

The bravery of Australian small business owners

I have recently been noticing small to medium sized businesses taking some wonderful calculated risks in what is an otherwise subdued economy.

In the last two months I have seen or heard of people setting up or expanding new small and medium sized businesses. This includes overseas offices in Asia, new cafes, restaurants, personal services businesses, professional service businesses and online clothing stores.

These business owners are showing fantastic bravery, often at great and immediate personal cost in terms of finances, health and family.

For big businesses taking big risks has the potential to impact thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of working Australians and their families, and broader communities and stakeholders. However, it feels like a long time since I regularly saw the Australian business media full of stories about big expansion, new or innovative products, or partnerships with start-ups. As always there are exceptions such as the recent acquisition of Dovetail, an innovative start-up that provides online collaboration solutions, by accounting software provider MYOB.

Around 95 percent of the 2 million businesses actively trading in Australia in 2011 were small businesses, accounting for almost half of employment in the private non-financial sector and over a third of production. The OECD estimates that SMEs comprise the overwhelming majority of firms in almost all countries, and contribute to at least two thirds of total employment.

The reality is that SMEs will provide the necessary innovation and job creation potential that will drive new economic growth. The question is how do we go about encouraging them?

Clearly access to funding is vital, together with effective mentoring. Funding for start-ups and growing business can be a complex area; investors have different criteria and understanding the different demands is often a huge learning curve. Increasingly funding can be provided through both traditional financial institutions in addition to other routes such as angel investors, venture capitalists, dedicated funds and high net worth individuals. Recently ANZ announced a $2 billion lending pledge to small businesses to provide a boost for the economy and create new jobs, signalling that they recognise the value of SMEs in the business environment.

One of the potential barriers to building more opportunities for SMEs is the need for more proactive communication. It may be that the ideas and the entrepreneurs exist, but they are struggling to get their voices heard. Not only do new media stories provide important portals for promoting new concepts, they document successes and failures providing important lessons for all.

But what about the role of big business in supporting smaller companies? Are there ways we could get big business to provide financial investment into developing new innovations?

I am keen to open a debate in this area and welcome your views.

One of the starting points is to ask ourselves whether we want big business to be more entrepreneurial? If not, then we need to consider how to better support SMEs to grow into big companies. For example, should we encourage internships from big companies to little companies? If we do, then perhaps we should attract people with SME experience into big companies and not just those CVs which include MBAs and other brand names or big corporate entities.

Established companies providing an opportunity for new ideas and products is an exciting area of discussion and I wonder if it is possible to translate the bravery of small business owners into this sector. Or have leaders in our big companies and government corporations lost the art of calculated risk and positive action?

Vicki Daniel