Businesses, organizations and entities must adapt to an increasingly digital world, which means jobs (and the skills people need to do these jobs) are changing.
Fifty percent of jobs will change in the next four years – and they will change, on average, by 30 percent. This means that people will need to learn new skills, workplaces (businesses, nonprofits and government entities) will need to effectively leverage their investments, and processes will need to be updated. Organizations need to build change and innovation into their DNA.
If you want to remain relevant in the coming years, listen to this episode and learn:
From Rea & Associates, this is unsuitable, a management and financial
services podcast for entrepreneurs, tenured business leaders, and others
who are ready to look beyond the suit and tie culture for meaningful,
measurable results. I’m Doug Houser.
Businesses continue to adapt to an increasingly digital marketplace, which
means jobs and the skills people need to do those jobs are changing.
Maureen Metcalf, founder, CEO, and board chair of the Innovative Leadership
Institute says the rate of change is accelerating. In order to prepare for
transformation and ultimately take action, we need to be aware of the
changes coming down the pike while simultaneously working to update our
mindsets and behaviors. On today’s show, Maureen will talk about the
changes taking place, the new skills and cultures needed to embrace these
changes, and the training that she says is needed to help navigate these
Thank you. This is a lot to talk about in 22 minutes.
It is. Glad to have you here. You are episode 201, so thank you. Hopefully,
that’s your lucky number.
I’ve been waiting for something to be 201 in my life.
There you go. Now you can go play the pick three tonight and maybe a win.
And share with all of us please.
I certainly will share if I win.
Thank you. Talk to us about digital transformation. Boy, that can mean a
lot of things. So what’s going on in the world of jobs that we’re all
subject to digital transformation these days?
So digital covers obviously a broad range, everything from ERP to Siri to
robotic process automation and beyond that. So if we think about the amount
of work that humans used to do that is being replaced with a machine, so it
is not necessarily that the Terminator has come to town and will be in your
office, but it is that all of us are using some kind of devices, or most of
us, to change in theory make easier the work we do. Everything from I
program my Nest on my phone, and I have the Ring doorbell, so I can see
what’s going on in my neighborhood, to everything in the world seems to run
through Google, so I get notifications and my travel stuff shows up on my
calendar. That’s the basic stuff.
But when we think about robotic process automation or bots, machines can be
programmed to do tasks. So thinking about in the past, this has automated
pharmacy picking and moving things through a hospital on robots. In
warehouses, again, picking, packing, that kind of thing is done more by
robots. What is unique is now this robotic process automation is going to
take over some of the more routine tasks that professionals do.
And then we add in machine learning. A colleague, I’m on the board of an
organization that does fraud detection using AI, so we find fraudsters. The
machine learns what to look for and continues to learn and get better but
at a rate quicker than humans because it digests information more quickly.
So thinking about the rate that these machines can learn changes your
profession, my profession, the legal profession-
… the medical profession, right? We want our doctors to stay as current
as possible. Some of this will allow them to diagnose and come back with
information when they’re partnering with the machine in a different way
than they have in the past.
So easier to look for anomalies, easier to, as you said, digest more
information rather than sort of one brain or a couple of brains trying to
look for what the issue is. You’ve got literally an almost infinite amount
of brains in essence.
Exactly. And think about if you are a patient with a rare disease, you
don’t want one doctor, and you certainly, if you’re living in a rural area,
don’t want a doctor who doesn’t know what you’re talking about, right? You
want the smartest people in the world coming together. And that’s what some
of this automation enables in a way that allows patients to get better
treatment. So at the end of the day, many people will be much better off.
The flip side of this is, according to the World Economic Forum, people
like us are going to get retrained, right? So we’ll get smarter about using
automated tools. We’ll integrate it into our lives. We’ll adjust like we do
to other things. Some people will get outplaced, and their lives will not
be as good. The challenge is people who aren’t getting the training are the
people who already have fewer skills, so probably economically not as well
off. So they don’t have the same cushion. They don’t have the same ability
to go get retraining. And in many cases, their organizations aren’t
investing in them. So as a society, we’re going to face some big
challenges. And companies like Microsoft are looking at this and making
bets that will help support the bigger community. But not everybody is. Not
So that’s an interesting dilemma certainly. So you, in your estimation,
you’ve been published in Forbes obviously, but I’ve read some of what
you’ve indicated that up to 50% of all jobs will change in some fashion.
And is that accurate?
That’s a quote from the World Economic Forum report of December 2018, so
it’s recent statistics. Half of jobs will change. So of the five of us
sitting in the room, two and a half of us will have our jobs change. I
don’t know about the other half a person. And they’ll change by a third.
Now, these are obviously gross aggregations. But that means if you’re
sitting in any room that may not be your office, probably half of the
population will have some to a significant change in the content of their
jobs. Now again for some of us, it’s not a big deal, and we welcome the
labor savings, so we can do the more interesting stuff.
Yeah, we like to evolve and adapt, right, and like you said, have a little
more enjoyment in what we’re doing.
And have the routine stuff done by a something but not me. Somebody,
something because I’m not very good at it.
But some people like the routine though, right?
Well, and some people, that’s their job, so they don’t want that job to go
away. So again, part of the message is as companies, we have to take
advantage of it, right, because our competitors are. And if we think of
some of the cyber attacks, the people perpetrating the attacks are using
these bots, right? There aren’t 10,000 high school kids in Russia trying to
break into your computer. There are actually cloud based applications that
leverage bots to go hit millions of sites in seconds and just see who they
can break into.
Where’s the weakness? Where’s the anomaly?
So these bots are being deployed already on the dark side of the world. The
question is, how do we, on the light side of the world, leverage them to
better serve our customers, to create more engaged employees? There are a
lot of opportunities. And there were some things we need to attend to as we
take advantage of the opportunities.
Now, that’s fascinating to me. But I’m a person who likes to adapt and
evolve and all that. And I think about our business in terms of audit
review, tax, other things to get away, again, from the mundane part of that
and focus more on the analytics. What are the real differences? How can I
help a client think about their business rather than the compliance based
part? But not all employees in every business want to evolve and adapt, so
how do I instill a culture? If I’m a business owner, how do I get that kind
of culture moving within my business so that my employees can think that
way and want to embrace that change?
So it starts with you as the leader and what you value. So you, Doug, value
innovation. And if you do, you are probably continuing to update how you do
things. So you walk that talk in theory where even the recording studio
looks different this time than last time.
So you’re using different technology and really cool microphone by the way.
And the technology around the room works different. So I assume that you
also bring that ethos of innovation into how you engage employees, what you
read, what you talk about it, so you as a leader modeling innovation. And
that’s one of the things that I think some people fail is, “You people go
innovate and tell me when you’re done,” versus “I’m innovating, and I’m
inviting you all to come along on this journey.”
So I saw Cameron Mitchell speak this week. And for people from the Columbus
region, we know Cameron Mitchell and his restaurants.
And I’m not going to get this exactly right, but he said one of his values
is we will do everything better today than we did yesterday. And every day
beyond that, we will continue to improve. When the leader walks that, when
he walks in and says, “Everyone in the test kitchen, how are you doing
this? We had this kind of reviews. Now, we’re going to get customer
feedback. So how are you building that commitment to innovation into… ”
You say you value it. You’re doing it. Now, we have to look at the
processes. Are the processes doing it, and are you rewarding people for it?
And then the agreements we have with one another. So is the agreement in a
meeting if I suggest something and you don’t feel like doing it, you find
some way to kill it? Or do we have a bias toward yes? Someone comes up with
a recommendation, and it’s not ridiculous, right? So let’s remove those.
Seems like it’s reasonable. How do we find a way to build experimentation
into our business?
It’s interesting. I’ve been reading about this because we internally have
been going through probably a more enhanced way to share client and the
like information through a more enhanced CRM system. Like you would expect,
we have early adopters, people who love it and say, “Oh, my gosh. I’m on
board. I can’t wait to share more information with my colleagues.” And then
there’s those that are more skeptical. And I read a recent article in the
Wall Street Journal in fact that a similar thing happened in a large
hospital system. And some of the physicians went so far in fact as to
literally poison the information in the system so it would become unusable.
In other words, sabotage the evolution or the moving forward with
technology. I mean, is that something that you’ve heard of or see
frequently with digital transformation? Do people get so they will actually
sabotage these types of things, and how do you combat that?
I haven’t seen actual sabotage. Not in the digital space. In the physical
space, I’ve seen people sabotage things including products.
Yeah, pharmaceutical products. That borders on criminal, if it’s not
criminal. If I walked into your office and took a bat to your computer,
it’s destroying your property, right? You’ve invested in that. If I
sabotage your technology, it’s still sabotage, and that should be grounds
for dismissal. It’s one thing to be angry and find an appropriate
expression of it. It’s another to damage. I have a client who’s doing some
clinical trials, and they use patient information. If that information is
altered in any way, they may be approving or disapproving medical devices
based on the data. It becomes a bigger issue than I said Bill Smith weighs
125 pounds versus 150. Now, I didn’t read the article, so I don’t know
what… But when you’re talking about patient data, there are a ton of
implications and altering it in any way can impact people’s health. That
It just surprised me more than anything to think of the lengths that people
will go to to try to not change in other words. That was kind of the focus
of the article. And I guess that, for me, is sort of a concept that’s a bit
foreign, and I think, “Gosh, how do you combat that mentality?” I mean, you
talk about obviously trying to instill that culture from the top, but how
do you really get it to permeate through everybody so that everybody buys
So we use a tool developed by a Harvard prof that looks at cultures, and
one of the things he looks at is he looked at what causes people to want to
be in an environment and what causes them not to. So why do you go visit
your grandparents in Montana versus going to Hawaii to the beach, right? So
I feel good about myself when I’m with them. I interact with them well. I
feel supported. I value the relationship or the mission in an organization.
I am open to try things.
And again, we value innovation, right? So when I am creative, people take
my ideas, and when I try to implement those ideas, I am supported in my
growth and development. So if all five of those are in place, so it starts
with basic respect. I care about you, my colleague, and as a supportive
colleague, my role is to understand you, appreciate you, respect you, and
support you as you are growing and changing. Because as we’re implementing
changes, if I don’t feel safe trying something new, I’m not going to,
So that’s a big part of the combination of our agreements with each other
and then the supporting way we evaluate performance and deliver training.
Because often these changes are not only automating a process. They’re
removing someone’s identity, right? I, as a doc, have invested 16 years of
school and 20 years of a professional career being an expert in this thing.
Now, you’re going to automate the stuff? Really? That will never work. So
my guess is for some people the resistance is not just preserving status
quo but keeping the organization from doing harm. So I think some people
actually are well-intended and not everyone.
But then the key is to get those that are maybe having a little more
difficult time thinking in terms of adaptation to get them to focus on, all
right, well, this is how things are changing, but let’s think about what
you can do. Let’s talk about where you add value and where we see things
really being just so much better for you going forward. So again, it comes
down to that communication and all of that type of thing in your view.
Well, so it is certainly helping people see the positive that’s coming, but
it’s also understanding who they are and what they value. So if you value
the impact you make as a physician on a patient, then I have to find a way
for you to continue to do that thing you value so deeply using the system
versus not. So let me give an example. I’m working with a cancer surgeon
right now, and he’s the one doing the research on this new medical device.
Right now, there are two people in the country doing this work. If the
device is approved, it can be printed on 3D lasers and delivered to
patients in their homes. So we no longer need to go… And again, think of
rural cancer patients. And he talked about the difference when someone’s
going through this treatment of just often having to stop the treatment
because it’s so damaging to their tissue that they can’t continue.
This treatment allows them to continue the healing process and accelerates
it dramatically. So he changed his perspective, right? So by understanding
how the technology will drive his ability to do the clinical trials, now,
he goes from, “This thing’s a pain in my neck,” to “This entirely changes
what is possible in healing cancer,” right? So it’s, in some cases, a one
on one conversation, and there’s a bit of exploration. He and I worked
together for a while, and he’s already a forward looking person and a
person who’s incredibly committed to his patient success. And the
introduction of technology, we went from, “I just don’t like this stuff,
and I don’t know that I want to continue doing this work,” to “This changes
everything.” And what’s available to patients is game changing for hundreds
of thousands of people, if not more.
That’s amazing. So you get people to think about what they’re really
impacting. How do I serve my customer or my client, or how do I finish this
job or finish this project or whatever the case might be? So focus on how
they can do that better and get more satisfaction and provide better
service to the client ultimately.
Well, and in each case, we have to know the individual person, right? This
isn’t done by newsletter, right? Now, the CEO doesn’t need to know, but
each individual’s direct supervisor needs to know them, needs to appreciate
them, needs to understand how what they value and how they identify
themselves in the world can connect to the success of this project. And the
truth is, not everyone’s going to make it through any transformation. Some
people will opt out because it is no longer aligned with who they are and
what they care about. Then it’s our responsibility to help them either
retrain or transition in a way that is respectful and appropriate.
Find something that is more impactful for them, so again, it’s kind of
connecting, understanding that emotional connection, how do they identify,
and what gives them the satisfaction in their job. And I guess for
everybody, that’s a little bit different, right?
It’s significantly different. I’ve got people on my team who their biggest
objective is to work from home and be there when their kids get home,
right? And the one person who is like that in my organization is one of the
most valuable people I have. I will make sure she is home with her kids
whenever she can be, and she is phenomenal. So it’s not the old up or out,
and you have to want to get promoted. Not everyone wants to get promoted.
And I am so happy that this person’s part of my team.
That’s fantastic. So that’s a great outlook. Well, you’ve been published in
Forbes, and I understand you’re now part of the International Leadership
Association. So tell me a little bit about that.
So I was just invited to join the International Leadership Association as a
fellow. So that is, and this is weird to talk about myself, but it is an
acknowledgement of my contribution to the field of leadership and the
expectation that I will continue to do that in partnership with them. So
they host an annual conference. It’s done around the world, and they have
hundreds of speakers. And I get to interview between 12 and 20 a year and
share that knowledge with everyone like you do with your podcast, right,
for free. So my commitment in the world is to elevate the quality of
leadership around the world as much as I possibly can. So I’m a drop of
water in the ocean, but these people are phenomenal.
So folks now get access and again, like your podcast, to brilliant
information at no cost. And for lots of people, they can’t afford to buy a
textbook or pay a membership fee, and yet, they’re able to listen and learn
and grow and develop. So it is connected entirely. As we talk about visions
and values, that’s a big commitment of me of time and investment to bring
something that I so deeply think is required in a world that is growing
quickly, to build the leadership that helps us move into the future we want
to create versus the future that will happen if we’re unconscious.
That’s a great way to put it and great outlook, and we certainly look
forward to following that as well. So it’s been great to have you on,
Maureen. Really appreciate it. It’s been fantastic, and I could go on
forever with this topic, so thank you very much.
Thank you, Doug, for the opportunity and for the information you put out in
the world to make all of our lives better.
Absolutely. Thank you.
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