Article: We must be better at work design to really transform how we create value: Wagner Denuzzo, Prudential Financial

Strategic HR

We must be better at work design to really transform how we create value: Wagner Denuzzo, Prudential Financial

We must be better at work design so that we take this opportunity to really transform how we create value and avoid the natural tendency to build bureaucracy in the organization, believes Wagner Denuzzo, Head of Capabilities for Future of Work, Prudential Financial.
We must be better at work design to really transform how we create value: Wagner Denuzzo, Prudential Financial

Wagner Denuzzo is the Head of Capabilities for Future of Work, Prudential Financial. He currently leads the Future of Work Talent CoE at Prudential. His team is responsible for Organizational Design and Capabilities, Change Management, Workforce Analytics, and the transformation of careers and skills development for the future. Prior to this role, Wagner was leading Leadership Talent Transformation at IBM where he also served as the head of Leadership and Management Development for the enterprise during IBM’s largest transformation in its history. 

Wagner has been a Talent Strategy Leader, Leadership/Organizational Development Consultant, Executive Coach, and HR strategist for over 20 years. Prior to joining IBM, Wagner had an Executive Coaching practice in NYC serving Fortune 500 clients nationwide. In an exclusive interaction with us, Wagner who will be speaking at People Matters TechHR India, sheds light on reinventing the new shape of work.

What do you think should be the priority for organizations to address the emerging needs of this altered world around us?

I see may organizations overthinking what I call The New System. I refer to it as a system because we are no longer compartmentalizing our lives between work and life. In fact, we have quickly moved from work/life balance in early 2000s to work/life integration in 2010s and now we are entering the work/life harmonization era which will be here to stay. 

Organizations must enter this new world with a new mindset, and I think there are 3 success drivers of this movement towards a reimagined workplace: One is about the Human-Centered Design approach that requires the co-creation of the future with your employees and managers; Two, is the idea that we must be better at Work Design so we take this opportunity to really transform how we create value and avoid the natural tendency to build bureaucracy in the organization, and Third, organizations need to focus on leadership! I can’t emphasize enough the critical role of senior leaders in reinventing their companies. Transformations are highly dependent on leaders’ ability to sustain high performance with confidence within ambiguity, courage to take risks when there is no roadmap, and most importantly, leaders must be get used to being vulnerable and become one with themselves so they can move others through empathy, inspiration and optimism.

What are some of the ways in which redesigning organizations can deliver efficiencies of scale?

You have to start with the identification of Critical Capabilities that will give your organization a disproportionate competitive advantage. This is the most important step in redesigning an organization.

Once you know what “excellence” means, you can start redesigning the work and build the organization with the right people, with right skills within the right structural system. This will facilitate the process of clarity. I often say that clarity creates capacity and with capacity we can build systems at scale. But we must learn to be simple, and that’s really hard.

Reinventing for the future means also rethinking how to harness the value of your workforce in new ways.  What would be some of the ways organizations can do that?

That’s absolutely right. The winners of tomorrow have the full power of their people driving full value for clients, shareholders and themselves. 

An approach that puts talent first on the list will definitely generate enough energy in the system to deliver to their clients the best experience possible.

I strongly believe that leaders can engage their people to a level of performance that’s exponentially more likely to translate effort into value for our companies and customers just by the fact that people want to be leading a meaningful professional life and our intrinsic motivation and rewards is something that we can only inspire to achieve through our people. The days of directing, managing and evaluating others is over!!! Managers will become coaches of high performance through engagement, purpose and authentic relationships with their people.

What role can AI and automation as well as human skills play in reinventing the new shape of work?

It is important to leverage all resources available to us to build a Talent Development System that generates insights from the data we already collect from our people. Data by itself has no value if we can’t derive insights and new thinking from deep analytics. People analytics is also here to stay and it is growing fast with new developments in AI and the ability to integrate our HR systems. It is important, however, to understand the limitations of our current AI engines in the process of identification of talent. 

I believe performance is the outcome of skills being applied by the person whose life experiences, combined with complex systems thinking generates the highest output towards a desired outcome.

This is critical to understand, as we many times, rely on skills in isolation. So for example, having someone who is really smart in skilled in building an AI platform does not necessary lead to best outcomes, if it is not combined by their experiences and knowledge of behavioral sciences that can augment their ability to derive insights and actually create much more valuable outcomes. So, in short, yes, we are in a skills based economy, but we must remember that skills are just like ingredients in a recipe, and if we don’t combine with intangible attributes, experiences, and a strong synthesizing mindset, we might end up with fragmented work that leads to slow processes and many times to mediocre performance.

What would be your advice on best practices for embedding agility and business innovation?

Start with self-acceptance and allow yourself not to know things. Approach everything with curiosity, courage and compassion for others. Let people know they have the accountability and autonomy to get the job done, that will definitely increase speed, then tell your people that collectively they are much more powerful if they go for radical collaboration. And finally, give permission for people to do amazing things, even when there are failures on the way to success. 

I know it is not easy, but for example, be courageous enough to celebrate success. I remember once, when I worked in a large global company and one of our senior leaders made a mistake that cost the company approximately US$1M. When the individual was called into the CEO’s office, he basically started the conversation by apologizing and stating that he understood that would be the end for him at the company. The CEO looked into his eyes and calmly said, “Why would I let you go now that I just invested US$1M in your development?”


Meet Wagner Denuzzo and many more HR tech and Worktech leaders at People Matters TechHR India 2021. Click here to learn more. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #TechHRIN

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