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WORDS FROM VIVIAN - Foreword to the 2019 Roundtable on Institutional Innovation Report

Momentous shifts in the workplace, largely driven by an increase in automation and artificial intelligence, has placed immense pressures on organizations to explore new ways to balance its utilization against the needs (and fears) of their human workforce. How should organizations approach these trade-offs? What can firms do to anticipate and mitigate employee concerns? How can organizations develop better metrics to understand the impact of increasing human and machine interactions in the workscape?

This report of the 2019 Roundtable, written by Richard Adler, explores Redefining the Workscape: Bringing Value and Values to Machine-Human Collaboration—focusing on how firms can address the inter-relationship between humans and machines. It features a robust discussion on the workscape of the future, employee benefit and meaning, paths for education, business structures, and leadership strategies that can maximize the opportunities presented by new smart technologies.

Adler begins the report by focusing on the many different strategies already happening within organizations—shifting from prioritizing skills to capabilities among hires to recognizing the multiple dimensions of employee trust, meaning and value. The report also includes a discussion on Superminds and the role computers can play to make them smarter. Next, the report emphasizes the need to deliberately create space—or an “adaptive space”—for innovation to emerge.

The report concludes with a discussion on how leadership can move to implement the various strategies. Specifically, it calls upon leaders in any organization to recognize the value-added in augmenting human skill and capabilities with technology, not just simply substituting one for the other. In order for firms to maximize their capabilities, increase efficiencies, pursue innovation and retain top talent, novel forms of collaboration of people working together with each other and with technology in new ways is imperative.

On behalf of Aspen Digital, I want to thank the Deloitte Center for the Edge, specifically co-chairmen John Hagel and John Seely Brown, Deloitte Global Human Capital, its lead, Jeffrey Schwartz, and Alexi Robichaux, CEO of BetterUp, for sponsoring this Roundtable. Without their innovative thinking and leadership, this exchange of ideas would not be possible.

Additionally, the Program extends its gratitude to Richard Adler, our rapporteur, for capturing the discussions and translating them into an engaging, thoughtful report. As is typical for our roundtables, this report is the rapporteur’s distillation of the dialogue. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of each participant at the meeting, or their employers.

Thanks, also, to Kristine Gloria, associate director of the Emerging Technology Initiative and Tricia Kelly, managing director, for their work on the conference and bringing this report to fruition. I also want to thank, Charlie Firestone, for his long-standing role as the roundtable’s moderator and as the executive director of the Communications & Society Program. Finally, none of the content in this report would be possible without the insights and expertise of the Roundtable participants. We thank them for their valuable contributions to this project.

Vivian Schiller
Executive Director
Aspen Digital
The Aspen Institute
April 2020

 
 
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