Looking Forward

Katie Jacobs, HR magazine editor expands on future changes we can expect to see in businesses and business education

Katie Jacobs, HR magazine editor

Every year HR magazine compiles the HR Most Influential ranking: the definitive list of practitioners and thinkers who have the greatest influence in the field of people strategy. In 2007, HR magazine formed a partnership with Henley Business School who undertook a key piece of research that helped form a better understanding of what influence really means in the world of HR. This had a huge impact on the rankings, increasing their credibility within the field of people strategy and influence.

With the 10th anniversary of HR Most Influential this year, the ranking owes some of its influence in the industry to Henley’s academic rigour.

HR magazine has formed a valuable relationship with Henley Business Faculty who have offered amazing insight and value to our subject field. We work closely with the HR Centre for excellence which has proved to be a very useful source of information and fresh thinking for the HR community.

Could you sum up Henley in a sentence?

A unique combination of long history and cutting-edge new thinking.

Looking ahead just 7 years, name one of the biggest changes and challenges you think might face business

Change is constant. Businesses have to deal with continual change and new technologies, which both enable and challenge how they are organised. This will have an impact on leadership, with collaboration and distributed leadership coming to the fore. It is no longer possible to have boardroom secrets due to the proliferation of social media. The information about a company will have to match up both inside and outside. Transparency is the new normal, like it or not.

The concept of what makes a good leader is changing, and organisational leadership strategies will have to evolve to keep up in a fast-changing world. External trends like globalisation, technology and the shifting demographics of the workforce mean organisations increasingly need a different type of leader. What made people successful in the past will probably not make them successful in the future, and the age of the ‘rock star’ CEO may well be behind us as organisations embrace more collective leadership styles. Collaboration across different organisations and the globe will only become more important, so we need leaders who are comfortable with ‘co-creation’. It is impossible for one leader, however exceptional, to deliver the traits needed for success in a volatile world; we need a more collective approach.

There are also shifts around how people are working, both in the rise of more agile working and in how people think about career paths. Traditional, linear career paths will become less common, with skilled people choosing to work for a number of different organisations and an increase in portfolio careers. These kinds of trends are changing how HR functions think about talent, considering lateral moves or whether your top talent is even employed by your organisation at all.

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Now look ahead 17 years and name the biggest changes and challenges that may face business education.

In the next 17 years we can expect to see the redevelopment of leadership tools, for example real time apps that can nudge people to change a specific behaviour. These mobile type tools will become more popular, this will not be the end to face-to-face communication but an increase in how organisations can supplement learning with real-time tools.

People are increasingly starting to question how they can practically apply learning to their work within an organisation. We can expect to see coaching courses become more popular and have an increasing impact on business education. This may not involve sending participates to undertake classroom based training and will emphasise the practical applications of learning. We will see people start to bridge the gap between theory and practical and really understand how their learning will impact their jobs, supported by technologies which will encourage and embed genuine behavioural change.

We're now in the year 2085, 70 years from now, name one way in which the world will have changed.

In 70 years we can expect the polarisation of the ‘haves and the have nots’ to rapidly increase, thanks to the increase of automation. The automation of middle and low skilled jobs will lead to an increase in unemployment and a polarisation of skills. These are issues that HR and business leaders will have to address, to ensure that people continue to feel connected to organisations and wider society. To keep up with the ever-increasing pace of technology, there will need to be a focus on re-skilling people to ensure their skills remain relevant. Organisations will need to play an increasingly important role in society and to be embedded within the communities in which they work, creating shared value rather than just making profits.

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