Killing Innovation (5 Apr 15)There are many conversations about multigenerational workforces and the likely impact on organisational outcomes. However there is a far greater challenge looming for all of us; automation. In 2014, Google chairman Eric Schmidt stated the next two decades will be “defined” by the topic of automation within the workforce. What does that mean for the Organisation, the Executive team and more importantly you?

University of Oxford Associate Professor Michael Osborne published a study in February that concluded up to 47 per cent of jobs in the US were at high risk of being replaced by automation within a generation. Jobs linked to data entry, accountancy and heavy vehicle driving would dramatically decrease and in some cases vanish completely. The mining industry in Australia is already exploring the commercial advantage of using driverless vehicles. The use of highly detailed 3D maps makes this a reality.

History is full of examples of machines replacing workers (aka automation). Ranging from the 19th Century English textile industry to the 20th century where almost 40 per cent of US workers lost jobs in agriculture. Did the world stop? No! What it did create was a mechanism for more innovative thinking from the leaders of the day and from within the workforce to what would be the next ‘big thing’. In the current era there appears a tendency for organisations to use automation as a means of improving the bottom line not for creating the environment for innovation. Innovation is really continuous improvement by another name.

Automation removes the time consuming, administrative or repetitive tasks that cruel free thinking and allows employees to take on more strategic, creative and customer facing projects and tasking. Engaged employees thrive with this kind of work and thus experience much greater job satisfaction. It is through innovation where many organisations will prosper. Combine innovation with automation and you have created the point of difference for longevity and success.

Start the innovation journey today, embrace the forthcoming change and create the work environment for employees to contribute. A workplace that fosters innovation has a clear vision, common goals and aligned values. Ready to meet the changing dynamics for the future workforce!