Embrace Your Human Skills | The Future of Work Is Automated & Human
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Embrace Your Human Skills | The Future of Work Is Automated & Human


With all of the hype about AI and machine learning transforming how business is done, it’s easy to focus on automation and data at the expense of letting the human elements atrophy.

It’s obvious that robots are here to stay. And they’re doing more and more kinds of work that only humans had previously been able to do. This has many workers worried and wondering how to robot-proof their jobs, and with good reason as McKinsey reports that up to 800 million workers are expected to be displaced by automation come 2030.

However, machines still haven’t acquired some skills and abilities that remain essential to human interaction. That doesn’t mean AI will never successfully have empathy. But for now, humans have that market cornered; it’s just that there’s always room for improvement.

Whether you’re a business owner, executive, mid-career, or entering the job market after graduation, you want to be cultivating and strengthening some core human skills that will improve your business and ensure your growing value to any organization.

Some see AI and automation as a threat. To those who want to perform repetitive work with minimal cognitive load, the machines probably do represent a threat to their livelihood. Others see that the wonders and potential of AI and machine learning also need complementary strengths found in uniquely human skills and abilities. Humans and machines work best when they work together, and this will become the new normal. Just like any team, different members bring different skills and perspectives to the table. In many contexts, just as AI and machine learning can calculate and operate at rates unfathomable for human beings, uniquely human abilities such as empathy are still superpowers to AI.

Develop strengths that are uniquely human: Formerly known as “soft skills”

Improve critical thinking and problem solving

Machines do what they are programmed to do. They can’t assess a situation and understand the many intersecting cultural and emotional contexts that will often factor heavily into finding the best solution to any given problem. Most problems that need to be solved are wicked and messy, and only human beings in the room can negotiate such a volatile web of meanings and consequences.

In Forbes, William Gormley’s work on critical thinking is discussed, saying that he differentiated critical thinking and other cognitive abilities in the workplace. “It’s a complement to creative thinking, which is much more about novelty and inspiration, vs. analysis and weighing of arguments. Both have to be brought together to do problem-solving. Problem-solving typically leverages critical and creative thinking to find a solution to a particular issue.”

In Scientific American, Heather Butler discussed her research, stating that critical thinking “can improve with training and the benefits have been shown to persist over time.”

With so much information available – the truthfulness or usefulness of which is often questionable – being able to think critically and evaluate the credibility and value in multifaceted and fluid contexts is an essential skill for success both in business and in life.

Boost your emotional intelligence (EQ or EI)

Coined by Daniel Goleman, the term “emotional intelligence” is “comprised of four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Nested within each domain are twelve EI competencies, learned and learnable capabilities that allow outstanding performance at work or as a leader.”

The compelling case for fostering improved emotional intelligence is that the domain of EI contains more than 80 percent of competencies that set top performers apart from others. Unsurprisingly, companies with executives who have higher emotional intelligence are more likely to be highly profitable. EI is contagious; it’s learned. Whether you’re an executive or not, boosting your emotional intelligence enables you to work well with others, build stronger relationships, and increase your productivity as well as that of others.

Take the time to do your research and get to know other people. Learn about a culture, whether it’s that of the company you work for (or want to work for) or the cultural background of your managers, co-workers, partners, clients, or customers.

Grow your empathy

You’ve likely heard empathy mentioned a lot lately, especially when it comes to customer experience, employee experience, and generally improving organizational and business performance and productivity. Research supports the business case for empathy in enabling meaningful communication, building trust with employees, colleagues, partners, and customers. Tony Robbins says, “Nurturing empathy in business brings numerous benefits, including increased sales, productivity, innovation, and competitive advantage.”

This is related to your emotional intelligence, of course. Take your EQ a step further from knowledge of cultural norms and acceptable practices to understanding and respecting the perspectives and emotions of others.

Update your human skills and knowledge continually

Expect to be a lifelong learner. Preparing for the job means your degree was just preparation for the beginning. A set of skills used to carry a worker through most if not all of their career. The “half-life of a skill was about 26 years,” according to Indranil Roy, head of the Future of Work Centre of Excellence (Deloitte). “Today, it’s four and a half years and dropping.”

Keeping up to date on the skills and technologies in your field or discipline is the minimum. Seek a mentor. Educate yourself. Going forward it’s vital that you expand your skillsets, gain new competencies, and look ahead to find out where technologies are developing and taking business. Increasingly, this includes being aware of broader social, political, and economic contexts, which all factor into your empathy, your EQ, and ultimately your ability to work with others in an ever-expanding and interconnected global economy.

Ultimately, if you are doing business with partners and customers who are human beings, you need human beings involved. Customers still want to deal with human beings. Employees must feel that they are contributing and that their work is valued, and employee experience has a direct impact on customer experience. 

Even the most advanced organizations at the leading edge of digital transformation still need human beings to drive business to serve their customers. In fact, as discussed on the Marketo blog, human skills have become even more important to complement the rise of AI. And the human talent who embody and exercise their human talents have a great advantage in the workplace, in business, and in life. 



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Don’t Expect Many Brands to Embrace April Fools’ Day in 2020 – Adweek
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Don’t Expect Many Brands to Embrace April Fools’ Day in 2020 – Adweek


Apparently not, if you check Twitter, where commenters have been proactively warning brands for at least the past week against pulling any April Fools’ Day pranks.

“Many of you typically have big plans,” wrote @amaliaefowler, a Vancouver tech company marketing director, mirroring much of the sentiment on the platform. “I beg of you, put them away this year. You will be remembered for launching them, and it won’t be in a good way.”

Marketers, already trying to tread lightly and sensitively with their communications in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, seem to have read the room. Brands, including Google, SodaStream, Honda, T-Mobile and Giphy, are skipping the annual “holiday,” even as they’ve made it a perennial and high-profile part of their advertising.

There will be exceptions (see Poo-Pourri), but the spring tradition of companies unleashing a flurry of fake products, epic misdirects and clever (or cringeworthy) hoaxes doesn’t appear to be happening. Not en masse, anyway.

“When times are good and brands want to show their humor and personality, it can be positive. A good stunt can humanize a brand,” said Joe Baratelli, evp, chief creative officer at Los Angeles-based RPA, whose client Honda says it will opt out of the holiday. “When things are serious, it’s probably not the time to be messing with people.”

Execs at Poo-Pourri respectfully disagree, and they’re willing to swim against the prevailing tide this year. But they think consumers will immediately understand that their candle called This Smells Like My Poop is a gag, so to speak, meant simply to get a chuckle from the public, says Nicole Story Dent, the brand’s svp, creative.

If the Goop-inspired name doesn’t give it away, then its description (“evokes rich, warm and familiar aromas”) and price tag, $41.20, certainly should, she says.

“We think it’s important to continue to bring some levity to those that need it most,” Dent said. “It’s an uncertain and devastating time, no doubt, and if we can bring a little bit of joy to people right now, we are all for it!”

Poo-Pourri isn’t actually selling the odiferous swag, but giving away a handful of them via Instagram. (This was not a mass-produced item).

Companies seem to be erring on the side of caution, like SodaStream, which already had its 4/1 campaign locked in place but will not go forward with it. The planned video revolves around a fake product and, like much of the brand’s ongoing advertising, focuses on environmental and social messages.

“It was a hard decision because April Fools’ is a beloved tradition with us and this would’ve been our fifth year,” said Karin Schifter-Maor, the Pepsi-owned brand’s global CMO. “But now is not the time for pranks.”

SodaStream will likely use the spot later, Schifter-Maor says, calling it “a unique and disruptive idea.” For now, the brand will continue to adapt its social media and marketing to reflect the current crisis. “It’s not just business as usual,” she noted. “All the messages we put out right now are about how you can make your life easier.”

Google has been a legendary player in the April Fools’ game for more than a decade, with goofs that range from a faux high-tech, low-carb “smart drink” called Google Gulp to a Morse code keyboard. The company, via a recent internal memo from CMO Lorraine Twohill, put the kibosh on stunts from any and all departments.

“Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people,” she wrote in the email, “so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one.”





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