The Future of Work Will Change Everything. Are You Ready?

The way we think about it and get it done, how businesses organize it, and its impact on global competitiveness and quality of life – “work” is undergoing a sea change. There are more questions than answers; just as many opportunities as there are challenges. But amidst the rise of on-demand jobs, the boom of the sharing economy, advances in artificial intelligence, the explosion of big data and the values-shift among the workforce, the implications for all of us – companies, leaders, employees, society – are real and significant.

It’s time to better understand the future of work, prepare for it, and innovate and lead within it. Several of Stern Strategy Group’s renowned authorities and advisors are helping organizations of all sizes and in every sector do just that.

  • “The sharing economy is empowering millions of people to unlock the value of their time, skills and talents to make money in ways and on a scale never before possible,” believes Rachel Botsman, a social innovator who has been at the forefront of the collaborative consumption movement since she coined the concept in 2010. Entrepreneurs and established brands alike must pay serious attention to the trend and reevaluate their business models to avoid negative disruption, activate untapped value and capitalize on an emerging market of talent. Botsman developed and is currently teaching the world’s first course on the collaborative economy as part of the MBA program at Oxford University’s Said School of Business.
  • Harvard Law Professor and renowned cyber security expert Jonathan Zittrain doesn’t see artificial intelligence as a threat to the future of work, but he does acknowledge that it presents puzzling new challenges that must be figured out – in law and across other disciplines – as technology continues to push the line between tool and friend. Zittrain, who has long studied the legal, technological and world-shaking aspects of quickly morphing technology terrains, believes if we examine these issues now, we can have some sway in bringing about changes that will help move us in a direction where privacy, autonomy and human values are taken into consideration.
  • The Internet is not the answer, according to Andrew Keen, one of the world’s most influential thinkers on 21st-century business, technology and media. “If you don’t think your company is vulnerable to the digital revolution, then your company is dead,” he says. The tech world, explains Keen – a senior fellow at CALinnovates, an organization advocating for California’s consumers of technology and innovation – will not become sufficiently equitable unless we legislate it to be that way. Instead of waiting for technology to sort us out, it’s time to intervene, and manage digital developments in ways that increase rather than undermine human welfare.
  • MIT Sloan School of Management Professor and co-founding Director of the MIT Initiative on “Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century,” Thomas Malone argues that the future of work is not a man versus machine challenge, but a man working together with machine opportunity. He says the combination of people and technology enables us to think in ways neither people nor computers have ever done before, presenting vast potential to organize work in new ways and build more intelligent organizations. Based on 20 years of groundbreaking research, he provides compelling models for actually designing “the company of the future.”
  • Tammy Erickson, a global authority on the changing workforce and generations at work, believes the leadership model is broken – and an entire generation of potential leaders is on the verge of falling through the cracks. Organizations simply aren’t suited to thrive through the challenges of today – or tomorrow. “It’s all about intelligence and how it’s leveraged. Organizations and their leaders need to focus on creating context – not structure – that empowers smart people with great ideas to make meaningful contributions.” These needs – and the leadership skills to address them – are exactly what Erickson, an adjunct professor at London Business School, homes in on in her executive education program, “Leading Businesses into the Future.”
  • We’re connected more than ever; yet we’re sacrificing conversation – to the detriment of life and business, says renowned social psychologist and MIT Professor Sherry Turkle. “New hires and young consultants are coming out of the best colleges and business schools. They have done amazing things both academically and in their extracurricular lives. But they are struggling with the simplest workplace conventions and conversations,” she explains. This inability to truly connect is an urgent issue and it’s undermining everything. Turkle champions the power of talk in the digital age and provides us with the insight to reclaim conversation
  • Familiar fixtures of the economic landscape, including retail stores, physical products, corporations and even human workers, are about to be vaporized – replaced by digital information. According to digital pioneer and innovation expert Robert Tercek, every aspect of our economy and society will be reconfigured by technological forces that only a handful of increasingly powerful companies have mastered. He reveals the inner workings of this transformative shift and explains its implications for retail, finance, employment, education, health care and more. If you’re in the information business (hint: we all are), Tercek will help you navigate through the massive changes, seize control and shape your future.
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