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Shepherd and Phaup's book begins with a look at our technology-driven future and invites readers to recognize the challenges of change, glimpse new possibilities, and start planning for what's ahead.

If ever there was a time to evolve and grow into a new tomorrow, it is now. The World Economic Forum has described the 4th Industrial Revolution as a new chapter in human development. The turning of history's pages is set to accelerate, driven by the stream of technological advances we have witnessed in recent decades. These changes can be likened to the dramatic shifts societies experienced in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Industrial Revolutions. Today's advances are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds to create enormous opportunities alongside daunting challenges. Standing still against this tide of change is not an option for ambitious business leaders.

The authors lean on the wisdom of researchers, thinkers, and practitioners across a broad range of disciplines from management theory and psychology to decision-making and motivational techniques. They map a framework, supported with resources, thoughtful questions, and easy-to-understand charts, that leaders can use to plan their way into the future with confidence and clarity.

From little things, big things grow

The changes to the world and workplaces will affect people, businesses, and societies at all levels. We will need to adapt and prepare for the new job roles of the future. That will demand that we cultivate creativity and flexibility, strengthening our ability to engage, cooperate, and collaborate while attaining new technical skills.

As machines and computers take over repetitive, mundane, and dangerous tasks, new tasks will emerge. These tasks will call on us to develop and use essential human skills and qualities such as creativity, communication, and empathy. People will need higher levels of interpersonal skills to work with each other in the same or dispersed locations. We will need to understand the new technologies that power our workplaces. Employers and employees alike will prize adaptability, creativity, and emotional intelligence.

The book names ten essential skills for adapting to this new work environment: complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; social, conversational, and emotional intelligence; decision-making; service orientation; negotiation; and cognitive flexibility. A short, dynamic work cycle of learn/ change/repeat – will replace traditional, long-term working careers. The days of earning credentials that will see us through from entering the workforce to retirement are behind us.

It's not just employees who will need to adapt to the new cycle of work-life and the skills. Organizations will also play a role in mapping career paths, identifying critical skill sets, and communicating the behaviors needed to achieve that vision.

Preparing for change

Whether the change is thrust upon an organization or chosen boldly by visionary leaders, the first step is to develop a crystal-clear vision. Transformation is easier said than done. But the authors provide pertinent and insightful questions to help leaders articulate their vision and bring stakeholders with them.

As with any change, not everyone will be thrilled with their organization’s new direction and goals. By explaining the types of resistance and offering tips for addressing them, this book will help leaders and managers move through inertia, gain momentum, and reach their goals.

At the heart of this book is the Talent Transformation Pyramid, a framework for executing change that any organization can adapt to its needs. The Pyramid provides a complete model for improving individual and team performance by building on technical skills, creativity, flexibility, and emotional intelligence. This model highlights twelve critical factors for enabling employees, teams, and the entire organization within an easy-to-understand framework for predicting performance. It also addresses environmental factors that impact performance, and it neatly incorporates technical competencies, tools, information, policies, and culture. The model illustrates how factors support each other and help you understand the puzzles of competence, performance, and working in teams.

Assessing the road ahead

Talent Transformation asserts that assessments will play a larger role in recruitment, onboarding, learning, credentialing, and certification. Multiple studies have already shown that valid and reliable tests are better predictors of organizational fit, job fit, and job performance than interviews. The range of assessments is likely to grow with the increased adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Although assessments and the measurements that come from them will never be perfect, perfection is not the goal. Assessments and measures need only to deliver the information required by the recruiter to make sound decisions.

Assessments are not only for recruitment. They can also help to identify appropriate career paths for individuals, evaluate team dynamics, and enhance compatibility across team roles. They can be a powerful aid to give us a deeper personal understanding of our personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

It’s clear that employees are increasingly working remotely and distributed teams are becoming more commonplace. It is therefore important to note that dispersed teams need more support than those onsite, if we are to forge robust connections and stay engaged. Assessments can help this support and increase the engagement of distributed teams and remote employees.

Assessments are also vital throughout a team's lifecycle and to an organization's growth. Through forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning, each stage of a team's lifecycle provides an opportunity for greater connection, creativity, and communication. Assessment results are a fast and straightforward way for individuals to understand themselves, others, and their team's dynamics

In summary

Improving individual and team performance helps leaders build organizations that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Improving an organization’s outcomes calls for setting SMART goals, selecting the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and regularly monitoring progress. These efforts help organizations succeed as they move away from rigid, vertical hierarchical structures toward horizontal models that support agile ways of working, information sharing, and collaboration between functions.

The world of work is changing. Customers are also changing, moving toward hiring services over owning goods, seeking personalized experiences, and using innovative marketplaces that put buyers in direct contact with creators and sellers. Customers increasingly expect businesses to embrace social responsibility.

Tomorrow's world of work will demand new skills and require greater agility, responsibility, and vision from leaders. Talent Transformation provides a clear framework and practical pointers to help you begin your journey into the future today.