In the cultural transformation business, there has been a lot of talk about the future of work. Gone are the days when the haves and have-nots have exclusive rights to success. The definitions of success, and how we achieve it, are changing. There is no one size fits all. Millennials, the first digital natives to enter the workforce, compel the generations before them to question status quos associated with goal achievement, organization structures and processes, and the pace of change. According to Deidre Paknad, founder and CEO of goal management application start-up Workboard, 2016 will accelerate changes through seven themes that influence a new normal in how we lead, work and innovate.

1. Transparency is the new black. 2016 will mark a change in how transparency is viewed, invested in and prioritized. "Rather than being bias against transparency, Millennials are biased toward transparency. They want to share perspectives and facts, something they are used to getting instantly," says Paknad. There is a generational shift away from long-term career planning. Mindsets transform from covering up and/or avoiding less than optimal postmortems and toward course correction, using real-time data while work is still in progress.

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2. Amplifying real-time impact. Gone are the days when twelve-month goals are created, only to be ignored or made irrelevant within a few weeks. "2016 will continue momentum toward an authentic approach that amplifies real-time performance instead of assessing long-term objectives," says Paknad. Employing near-term goals, leaders and their teams are able to laser focus on the most important tasks. Immediate feedback, grounded in impact and purpose, will start to replace time-consuming business reviews that cover months, quarters, or longer and begets punishment and fear.

3. Velocity (VQ) is the new IQ. The competitive landscape for customers and talent require both quality and speed to market. High performance teams are now required to learn and iterate at the same pace as they innovate. 'Teams that work in slow motion will lose the market and top talent. Achieving high VQ must be part of the cultural mindset," says Paknad. You don't have to look far for examples where smaller companies have a distinct advantage over their larger competition due to their high VQ. "Compare the market valuation of Airbnb over Marriott or Tesla sales in Europe compared to BMW. In a start-up, innovation can happen every 48 hours," says Paknad.

4. Cognitive computing becomes business staple. The technology market has spent a lot of time and money on big data over the past years. Eighty-perfect of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data we generate everyday is unstructured. Companies struggle to consume, use, and apply dynamic insights to inform market and product strategies. "IBM's Watson has paved the way to synthesize an incredible amount of data for value, information, and actionable knowledge," says Pakand.

5. Right-size spending transforms into a competitive differentiator. Paknad sees the recent reality check on unicorns as a sign of things to come. "People will enter 2016 with more anxiety than they did in 2015. The trend toward getting more competitive with less money and fewer people is growing," says Paknad. The best companies will get in front of this trend and use it to their advantage. Companies that can outperform, out-market, and to innovate and acquire more customers because they are able to shift resources in more innovative ways, without increasing spend or losing momentum, will gain market-share.

6. Expect continued disruption. Don't think that the do-more-with-less 2016 trend will stop disruption. Real disruption, the kind that impacts whole industries, will continue to run rampant next year. "It doesn't matter if we are talking about the fact the people with smartphones don't need physical credit cards anymore or that the largest travel accommodation company does not own real estate. If an industry is inefficient or lacks clear customer value, it will be disrupted" says Paknad. What industry might be disrupted next? Research indicates 40% of the US workforce expected to be contingent by 2020 and 50% of global businesses expected to increase their reliance on freelancers; the way we attract, recruit, and onboard talent has to be disrupted. "Someone is going to amend that market," says Paknad.

7. Dynamic workplace trends cast a wide umbrella. Hierarchy-minded managers will need to make way for a workforce that places value on networks over titles. "Lines in an organizational chart become borders that do not get changed. Millennial business leaders and influencers value impact over title," says Paknad. Organizations are dynamic. Creating the right culture and structure to achieve agility that does not adversely affect focus and impact is needed.

Published on: Dec 22, 2015
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