January 31, 2017 in Events (live blogging)

Building Intelligent Organisations – Lynda Gratton & Tammy Erickson

Lynda Gratton & Tammy Erickson (Thinkers50)
@lyndagratton @tammyerickson

Lynda Gratton opened by talking about visiting the Masia in Tanzania with her son, and the experience of seeing a Masia Warrior answering his mobile phone; a moment of realisation that the world has changed forever. Technology is impacting in so many ways, including the globalisation of talent (e.g. an 11-year old from Lahore attended Davos this year as a result of getting the best result in a Stanford-organised coding course). Technology is also impacting the nature of work, for example it is predicted that 60% of jobs in the US will go as a result of technology. Things that we previously thought could never be automated are now seeing some technology developments, driving being one example.

Tammy Erickson then explored the way in which technology allows us to work in new ways, reducing the costs of communication and coordination and leading to an increase in outsourcing of non-core activities. As organisations no longer need to control non-core activities, Tammy believes that the trend of outsourcing will go well beyond IT and catering and will affect lots of people. This will lead to a more flexible approach to people, with few job titles and structure and more of a project structure with people engaged flexibly as required. Consequently, job titles will be more project/delivery focused.

Lynda Gratton then explored increasing longevity, talking about ‘the 100-year life’ and exploring beliefs that it may not be long until people live until an average age of 120. If we live to age 100, then we will probably work until we are 70 or 80. This trend doesn’t mean that we will be older for longer. Rather, we will be younger for longer. We will get to experience good health for longer whilst still having lots of life experience. There used to be three stages of life – education, work, and retirement. Increasingly, 100-year lives shift the focus from tangible things (savings, property, pension) to intangible things (productivity, vitality, and transformation). In a 100-year (or multi-stage) life, you can do many things such as take time out (e.g. gap years), run your own business, and experience more learning.

Tammy Erickson then closed by exploring how the importance of college degrees will diminish and we will place increased emphasis on what we learn with organisations. Companies will compete for talent based on the value of the learning they provide, and that we need to make the most of these badges of learning. Providing great learning and development opportunities will become a real differentiator. Young people want opportunity, challenge, meaning. The most important work today is discretionary and there isn’t a single thing we can to force people to do that. The challenge is to create conditions in which people will want to do the right things.  We need to give people confidence in the organisation’s unique identity. ‘Meaning is the new money’ so we need to stop adopting so-called best practices, but be unique and offer what attracts the right people. The most important work today is helping people to mobilise their intelligence and to think.  As we build flexible organisations that take advantage of new technology and 100 years of life, we really need to think about what makes us special – about how we can be unique and engaging and offer people a rewarding learning experience.


This was live-blogged during a session at the HR Directors Business Summit 2017 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in. I’ve also curated the story of the session as told through the tweets of the attendees (you might need to tap ‘load more tweets’ to see the full story):



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