Indranil Roy is an Executive Director in the Human Capital practice at Deloitte Consulting, based in Singapore. He leads the Deloitte-Leadership Practice for Asia Pacific and is the Chief Strategy Officer for the global Deloitte-Leadership practice. Indranil is a globally renowned strategic advisor in innovation/digital, leadership, strategy organization and culture. He has extensive experience in advising clients from ASEAN, Brazil, Japan, China, India, Korea, United Kingdom and United States across a wide range of sectors, including financial services, IT, government, consumer and healthcare.
Here are the excerpts of the interview with Indranil.
One of the messages from Davos this year is that people around the world will need to upskill and re-skill? And there is wide agreement that we need a massive push to prepare people for new jobs and skills. How do you view the current skilling scenario at a broader level? Are we doing enough to prepare people for those future skills?
According to our research, the technical and functional skills that we are certified by educational institutions (e.g. Marketing, Finance, Management etc.) have seen a sharp drop in the ‘half-life’ (the time it takes for the skills to become irrelevant). We have gone from a ‘half-life’ of 24 years in the early 90’s to about 4.5 years today. In other words, formal education degrees can no longer guarantee a career of more than 5 years. We have to reskill /upgrade our skills actively (in our everyday routine) to stay relevant at this pace. This problem cannot be addressed by any sector alone. It has to be a collaborative effort between educational institutions, corporates and their learning functions, individuals making an effort to keep up, and by government providing the right incentives at the right time. What we see today is disparate and disjointed efforts from each of these agents but little evidence of joined-up initiatives across all agents.
The future of work lies in creating a new generation of workers who are adept at augmenting their human skills with machine intelligence, learning new ways of adding value in the process
Skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today. How can organizations prepare for a future that we can't define? What's your advice to CHROs and other people managers?
This statement is partly true. Job titles are difficult to predict but future skill areas are easier to visualize. Organizations need to pivot from job-based or level-based learning architectures to skill communities and ‘chapters’. So, for example, as an organization you can focus your efforts on building a learning community around ‘analytics’, curating and sharing content on a range of different skills like data visualization, data governance, deep learning, etc., rather than focus on the future job titles and hierarchical levels of jobs. Each ‘chapter’ can then have the goal of creating continuous learning mechanisms to keep community members engaged and up to date. Investments can be made in emerging areas quickly; centers of excellence can help accelerate capability pools and external specialists can find a ‘docking point’ in the organization to collaborate and co-create. Organizations often make the mistake of setting up informal learning communities, but not pivoting their formal architecture and investments to give these communities the fuel they need to succeed. Instead, the formal organization created on job hierarchies get the real attention and investment, while the informal communities are left to fend for themselves.
Given this Fourth Industrial Revolution, how do you envision the future of work? Can you share some broader dimensions that can improve the future of all workers?
There is a dystopic view shared on media platforms around the coming tsunami of joblessness because of automation. We do not share that view. We believe that there will be significant short term dislocation between the demand and supply of skills but as new jobs are created in the economy at a faster rate, there will be continuous demand for human skills side by side with machine capabilities. Amazon highlighted this recently – they believe that increased automation will create new jobs for humans as it replaces human activities with machines. The future of work, therefore, lies in creating a new generation of workers who are adept at augmenting their human skills with machine intelligence, learning new ways of adding value in the process. The fundamental human skills of empathy, judgment, relationships, creativity, problem solving, etc. will find greater demand and the machine domains of analysis, repetitive processing, transactions etc. are more likely to go away from human endeavor.
Deloitte is in the business of advising the world's most complex companies. What are your top pieces of advice for CEOs to align their workers in line with changing work dynamics?
We focus on a few basics here. Large companies are bureaucratic machines, often encumbered with legacy ways of working that slow them down from active experimentation and innovation. The North Star for future readiness, according to us, it the ‘clockspeed’ of the business – the time it takes to make changes and effect new outcomes. Designing around a ‘clockspeed’ of weeks as opposed to the traditional speed of quarters should be front and center of the CEO agenda. This requires 3 fundamental shifts. First is the new leadership mindset – we use the term ‘Leaders as Founders’ as opposed to traditional ‘manager’ mindset. Second is the organization – designed as a network of cross-functional teams (squads) rather than large monolithic functional silos. Third, an unleashed workforce empowered to solve problems, access capabilities from inside and outside the organization, work in cross discipline teams, and move from challenge to challenge. These 3 aspects must come together to deliver a future ready organization at scale.
Being an APAC head of a consultancy firm, how is the skilling scenario in APAC countries different from the rest of the countries? Do you notice a change in terms of skilling initiatives, ways of tackling skill shortages and mismatches?
APAC has some specific tailwinds and headwinds when it comes to adjusting to the future of work. The major headwind is the fact that more economic activity in the region tends to be transactional, manufacturing related or process centric. That will mean a higher vulnerability to automation in the future. The tailwind is the growth and aspiration of the consumer class. This will create more jobs in human skill areas like healthcare, services, governance, relationship management, care giving, teaching, coaching etc. – jobs that are better done by humans than machines. Governments and educational institutions need to focus on building some of the ‘soft skills’ or ‘essential human skills’ in the workforce so that they can transition quickly to areas being automated to jobs being created. This is in addition to creating more skilled manpower in technology and data science, technical areas that will see job growth in the future. Finally, the skill marketplaces in Asia don’t work too well. Job seekers often struggle to find the jobs that need their skills and companies struggle to fulfill demand with the right people. Investing in better online marketplaces, creating communities of talent, and modernizing recruitment as an industry will pay off in the medium term.
The challenge is not to re-skill leaders but to re-orient them- as founders. Founders tend to have a very different orientation to risk, speed, autonomy, problem solving, relationships, execution, teams
How do you view the new leadership skills for an uncertain world? With the world becoming more connected and more diverse, do you think businesses will need different types of leadership skills? How must leadership programs adapt to teach these new skills?
Our research suggests that the leadership skills required are not necessarily new, but the leadership orientation is. The challenge is not to re-skill leaders but to re-orient them – as founders. Founders tend to have a very different orientation to risk, speed, autonomy, problem solving, relationships, execution, teams. They tend to ask different questions of themselves and their teams, set goals in a different way and for different time horizons etc. Traditional managers build a stack of ‘preconceived truths’ that inform how they lead day to day. Challenging their worldview, immersing them in a start-up ecosystem, asking them to take on a ‘founding challenge’, changing the way they view their rewards and risks … are ways to trigger this re-orientation. Teaching, lecturing, or case studies of Google/Amazon in a class room setting or in a mountain retreat does very little to shift their orientation.