Category Archives: Future of Work

I was delighted when I heard that Bradford has become a technology university. As the world’s leaders are struggling to manage the impact of technology – is this an opportunity for the University of Bradford School of Management to lead the world in helping business leaders create strategies and manage for the future? Read my ...

For the first time since the Great Library at Alexandria burnt down, all human knowledge is now available in one place, thanks to the internet which gives us endless content, smart search engines and the ability to create queries in the form of questions.  Unlike the great library it is available to anyone with a ...

I am giving a talk at a compliance conference next month and looking at whether our legal system can cope with the speed of technology over-turning the world as we know it. A story this week has beautifully illustrated some of the challenges.  The celebrity couple, Richard and Judy, apparently spotted a drone flying over ...

Have you ever had that moment when suddenly the things that you write, talk and worry about are happening to you? Surely they always happen to other people? I have been writing about artificial intelligence and my worry that business leaders don’t think they need to understand it – it will only affect future generations. ...

Recently I wrote a short article in the Financial Times which said that Business Schools needed to change radically if they were to be fit for the 21st century. I thought that all I would get from the schools would be pushback against the idea. Instead the wonderful Karthik Kannan, a Professor at Purdue’s Krannert ...

Last week I spoke at Accenture’s International Woman’s Day conference. It was a great event, with a bunch of really interesting speakers. I’d been asked to speak on disruption, in particular the disruption that technology causes in business (I wrote in an earlier blog about the emergence of disruptive business giants). While I was planning ...

Innovation is today’s buzzword. Every CEO claims that his company is at the forefront of innovation – at least every CEO who wants to keep his or her job. Every politician talks about the need for his country to be innovative if it is to grow and prosper. The innovation word is everywhere but I ...

I spend a lot of my time talking about the future to groups large and small. One of the common reactions is that “we’ve seen this before – technology just changes jobs – it doesn’t do away with them”. No-one seems to think it will affect their job or even their children’s jobs. It is ...

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the end of car ownership. Dan Neil argues that cars as we know them will not exist within a generation. When you want to travel, a self-driving car will be summoned by an app to your location, clean and fuelled. You can have it ...

If your image of robots is that of C3PO and R2D2 bumbling around in Star Wars, think again. An algorithm is now a director sitting on the board of Deep Knowledge Ventures in the Far East, with voting powers equal to the humans. A robot prepared a meal for Michelin-starred restaurateur, Angela Hartnett, requiring it ...

I’ve wondered in the last few weeks, as storms have swept across the UK, why we are now giving names to UK storms? Is this an attempt to humanise something that is beyond our control? I think this is important as part of the debate about what is the long-term future and role of robotics. ...

This week the great and the good will gather in Davos to discuss ‘Managing the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – what it means and how to respond. But I am concerned that the debate will be superficial, futuristic and miss the point. We are in the middle of a crisis – now. And we need to ...

Technologies and markets are now moving so fast that few organisations escape the need to reorganise. Reorganisation is rarely easy and never simple but there are some things that I have learnt painfully over the years that may help. 1. Make change long term and inspirational All change, particularly changes to culture, take time: between ...

Predictions of the future have to be taken with a large pinch of salt – especially when considering the impact of technology on business over the next 12 months. However, as someone who started her career as a historian, I know that if we do not think hard about the future now, then we will ...

The time between Christmas and New Year is a real gift of down time from work. Yes there is all the busyness of Christmas but there is time to do some thinking about the things that are important, as opposed to all the urgent things that we spend our days on. When I talk to ...

One of my favourite stories about how the world is changing is of the CEO of one of our leading technology companies being shown round a classroom. The great man stopped by the desk of a young girl using an iPad. “Who taught you how to use that” he asked? She looked at him in ...

We are on the cusp of extraordinary times. Businesses are automating functions from online bookings to telling you which lift to get for the quickest rise to your destination. We are all too familiar with computer system failures. The call centre operator saying, “I’m sorry the system is down” or the supermarket checkout that thinks ...

I mentor a number of ambitious, driven senior executives and there are a number of questions that come round again and again. The one I want to talk about today appears in many guises, but can be summed up as “what is enough?” (I will look at some of the other themes that appear regularly ...

  I recently spoke at the Balanced Business Forum about the skills that businesses need for the future. In the panel session, there was a very interesting question about how did I see career progression in the future. I used the analogy of bridges. Most of the owners of iconic bridges such as the Sydney ...

One of the most frequently recurring themes among my mentoring clients is “how do I get a seat on the board?” Some clients are looking to take the next step up to be Executive Directors, others are looking at NED (non-executive director) roles. Neither is an easy step to make and few people really think ...

Today I have published a report, March of the Robots … into the boardroom. In it I challenge UK bosses to start understanding and managing technology before our businesses lose profitability, brand names and even their jobs within the next three to five years. Will your job be here in the next five years? Have ...

I talk to a lot of groups, large and small, about the impact of technology on work as we know it. But rarely have I had as great an introduction as last week when I was invited to speak to the in-house legal team at one of our major energy suppliers. I was preceded by ...

There are a number of themes that run through my mentoring work but one of the most common is “How do I get a Non Executive Director (NED) role”? Senior leaders have two reasons for wanting to be an NED: 1. To get another viewpoint on board governance and to understand what NED’s need from ...

In the last episode of the very good BBC Radio 4 series “The New Workplace”  Justin King, late boss of Sainsbury’s claimed that introducing a nationwide minimum wage is “ludicrous” and went on to say: “One of the consequences of productivity is fewer people producing the same output. Companies will invest more in productivity and ...

An article this week by Aaron Krumins in Extreme Tech says that DARPA is teaching an Artificial Intelligence to improvise and play jazz. Now the interesting thing about jazz is that it requires a high level of innovation, something we have always seen as the preserve of humans. So if computers can start to innovate ...

I’m constantly surprised by talking to people who can see how technology is impacting on every area of business but have a complete blind spot about their own area of expertise. Recently I’ve talked to a number of global law firms who exhibit the same blind spot. They give me two reasons: They think that ...

Pat Chapman-Pincher has a long history of working at the highest levels of some of the world’s biggest technology companies and today works with a range of FTSE 100 businesses helping leadership teams to plan for the future and manage the risks posed by technology today. In the podcast below, Pat is interviewed by the ...

Leadership skills and management styles have always evolved over the years, but businesses are facing an unprecedented era of change in the way they manage their teams. Intelligent automation in the workplace, or “the age of robots” as many are calling it, presents a difficult question. How do you manage humans and robots as they ...

Driving instructors (another dying breed as we go to driverless cars!) tell their pupils that “objects in the rear view mirror may appear larger than they are”. An HBR article on managing business risk that was published last week reminded me of this. It was mainly about the financial services industry, but the lessons are ...

Businesses can do great things by seizing on the opportunities presented by intelligent automation, but also have to understand how this new sector is evolving so they can effectively plan for the future. It’s a topic that is becoming increasingly debated at the highest levels of industry and in this blog, I share some of these discussions.

Is intelligent automation the key to our productivity crisis? A lot of people are worrying about the UK’s productivity, not least the Bank of England’s Governor, Mark Carney in his last press briefing. It seems a strange anomaly that when some of the economic statistics for the UK look good versus our EU colleagues, our ...

In my last blog, I looked at which jobs have been automated over the last 50 years and which ones are being automated now through what I call ‘intelligent automation’. I am carrying out research with businesses to understand how they view the impact of automation on jobs and business structures – I plan to ...

There is a great deal of talk in the media about the effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Eminent minds, including Stephen Hawking, have been warning of its dangers and say that uncontrolled development of AI poses a threat to the human race. Some of these dangers are real and may or may not be avoidable. ...

Recently I spoke to a large group of General Counsel about the future of work and the impact of technology. My own view is that they are an influential group of people, but often under-rated. So I was keen to get their views on what our future workplaces would look like – and what would ...

Last month I was invited to speak at The Two Per Cent Club. Instead of just talking, I asked these smart, senior women to look at a serious business problem from the variety of perspectives in that room. What was the problem? What were their views and most importantly what do they think boards should ...

Will this be the last election when we vote with pencil and paper? Could it even be the last time we vote as we know it – and data analysis could form future governments? The wonderful Josie Rourke, Artistic Director at the Donmar, is always an inspiration. She made some comments about voting in a ...

One of the difficulties about the future is predicting time-scales for change. There is no doubt that the world is changing faster than ever before but getting leaders to think about the future never gets any easier. It’s the short term that is the most difficult. 50 years is not a problem, 10 is much ...

I have spoken recently to two senior leaders, one in retail, the other in professional services. Both were clear that they are looking to automation for the cost benefits it can deliver. So they would be replacing jobs currently done by entry-level staff with automation. What neither had, was a working model for what their ...

There’s been an interesting thread running on Twitter lately on the topic of robots. “Robots” it claims “are taking our jobs”. It’s interesting, not just because it raises the debate about jobs going to robots but because it implies that something new is happening and that robots are in control of the process. Robots, at ...

There’s been an interesting thread running on Twitter lately on the topic of robots. “Robots” it claims “are taking our jobs”. It’s interesting, not just because it raises the debate about jobs going to robots but because it implies that something new is happening and that robots are in control of the process. Which jobs ...

Stephen Hawking has always been one of my heroes, not just because he has a brilliant mind, but for the way in which he has never let adversity get in the way of what he wanted to achieve.  He has also managed to maintain a sense of humour through all the problems that he has ...

There has been a lot in the press lately about the driverless car.  A few years ago this was thought to be an impossible piece of technology, now we are trialling driverless cars in the streets of Milton Keynes.  But while it’s exciting to think about the technology itself, the thing that seems to me ...

This week my old colleague, Vint Cerf, warned at the American Association for the Advancement of Science of a ‘digital dark age’where all the images and documents we have been saving on computers will eventually be lost. I have a great deal of respect for Vint who many claim has fathered the Internet, so he ...

If there is one thing that makes mobile phone users cross, it is the cost of roaming.  Why, in an age where the technology is everywhere and the cost of calls so cheap does it cost more to call France from London than Newcastle – when France is nearer? The reason is down to the ...

Have you looked at adverts for watches lately?  Watch manufacturers spend a fortune on promoting watches but not to tell you the time any more.  It’s because everyone now has a super-accurate device in their pocket that will do that for them. So watches have become high-end items of jewellery now their original purpose has ...

Over the last year I have become increasingly concerned that boards do not understand the pace of technology change, let alone managing the impact it will have. When I heard a farmer on the famous radio programme, the Archers, looking at automating their milking and considering the future of robotics, I couldn’t help thinking these ...

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Innovation happens, it’s what people do, and it is essentially neutral. In part two of this blog on innovation I look at the role of the board and what they can, and do, govern – and mostly don’t. The first part looked at Is Innovation Good or Bad for Business – and Society? 1. Boards ...

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I mentioned I am sharing old blogs that still seem relevant, as I kick-start this new blog. Here I bring together extracts from three posts which looked at three aspects of customer service. 1. Sales teams are disconnected from customer follow-up I had the same conversation with three different major customers in just one week ...

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Globalisation is sometimes seen as a modern phenomenon. But of course it began when our ancestors left Africa and started spreading out over the globe and, as the explorer Thor Heyerdahl proved, our ancestors were able to sail the Atlantic in mere papyrus boats. In the past, phases of global growth have often ended in ...

I have been blogging for a number of years, mostly for companies I have worked in. As I now set up my own blog, I thought it was worth sharing some of the early posts again, where the messages are timeless. I wrote a version of this post just as the recession of 2007/8 was ...