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The Future is Human. The Decisive Key is YOU.

This webinar recap shares thoughtful insights from Professor John Amaechi on maintaining our humanness in a digital world.

Published By Jeffrey Yeager
The Future is Human. The Decisive Key is YOU.

Transformation comes fast and frequently, spurred forward by humanity’s endless capacity to discover and leverage digital innovations. How to respond to the changes those technologies precipitate is a constant theme of discussion across boardrooms and virtual meeting spaces. But when thinking about transformation and how much of it relies on immersion into an increasingly digital world, it is crucial not to lose sight of one essential fact:

People will always be the most important catalyst for positive change. And for any successful transformation to take hold, whether in office or at home, there must be a willingness to transform the self.  

That is precisely the sentiment discussed in the Transforming Planview, Transforming You webinar featuring world-renowned human resources authority Professor John Amaechi. The following is a quick recap of the insightful and inspirational discussion hosted by Planview’s Kaleidoscope and Pride Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), covering topics such as:

  • Challenges of managing a digital work environment
  • Building and maintaining authentic human connections in a digital world
  • The importance of embracing change, inclusion, and diversity

But first, some background on Professor Amaechi.

About Professor John Amaechi

Professor Amaechi OBE is a respected organizational psychologist and the Leadership Transformation Expert at APS Intelligence LTD, the consultancy he founded in 2006. At APS Intelligence, John and his team of specialists partner with businesses to build bespoke programs focused on executive coaching and behavioral change that help create effective leaders and authentic and ethical cultures. This is what John believes leads to sustainable organizational growth and high performance while ensuring the dignity and well-being of all colleagues.

In addition to his work at APS Intelligence, John also teaches Leadership at the University of Exeter Business School (United Kingdom), is an Institute of Science and Technology Fellow, and is the best-selling author of The Promise of Giants.

Drawing on his early life in Stockport, near Manchester (UK), his career as the first Briton to play professional basketball in the NBA, and deep psychological insights, he hopes to challenge and inspire others, continually driven by the words his mother once used to inspire him:

“The most unlikely of people in the most improbable of circumstances can become extraordinary.”

Professor Ameachi is also a non-executive director of an FTSE 250 company, was a 10-year director of the UK’s largest healthcare organization, and a board adviser for several FTSE 100 organizations in the financial, legal, and professional services, technology, publishing, engineering, and retail sectors.

He is a LinkedIn influencer and has been a LinkedIn Top Voice since 2020. In 2023, John was nominated for and awarded the Sport’s Industry, Integrity & Impact award.

Now that you have gotten to know our speaker, let’s dive into the great insights he shares.

New Approaches to Managing Digital Workplaces

The discussion starts with a valid concern that in a world increasingly dominated by technology and digitization, there is a fear that our society may become less human, especially in the workplace.

In response to the transformative disruptions and opportunities arising from the changing dynamics in work environments, Professor Amaechi assures us that “the future is human.” He also provides some valuable notions on how leaders can partner with others to navigate this evolving work landscape without losing touch with our essential humanity:

Move from transactional resource management to authentic people leadership

Leaders should be encouraged to move away from highly structured, delegation-focused approaches, recognizing the importance of treating employees as individuals rather than mere cogs in a machine.

Transition from hub working to remote ‘spoke’ working

There needs to be a significant change that emphasizes the potential of tapping into talent from diverse regions. For example, while NYC may be a center of finance, that does not mean the skills financial organizations seek can only be found in the NYC area.

Move towards a dynamic and adaptable culture

A single perspective should not define organizational culture. Organizations should embrace various cultural perspectives and recognize how they respond to their environments, considering them unique parts of a whole.

Utilization cultures to learning cultures

There is an evolution in roles that also sees a move from traditional performance management to coaching feedback and from compliance learning and development to purpose-driven.

These shifts, illustrative of a response to increased digitization, imply the need for new leadership approaches and structural changes within organizations.

Securing the Value of Human Connectivity in a Virtual World

Still in the virtual world but away from workplace management, the discussion next turned to the challenge of authentic human connectivity through the digitized self. Professor Amaechi states that while in-person human connection is vital, virtual connections are still connections.

The challenge is that people can get away with a lot more virtually, which can lead to dehumanization.

He offers suggestions for overcoming this challenge that “require patient curiosity mixed with enthusiastic excitement,” further proving his point by citing a direct correlation between well-known people and people who know others well—reciprocation at the heart of this observation.

In addition, each person should try to see and understand individual idiosyncrasies, fostering an environment where differences are respected and valued. When people show they care about differences, they earn the right to know more about a person, and real connections begin to form.

Communicating the Value and Positive Impact of Inclusion

Professor Amaechi dedicated a significant portion of the webinar to discussing how leaders and ERGs can support change and communicate the positive impact of inclusion.

Drawing on 35 years of metric analysis, he stressed the importance of inclusion and diversity, highlighting its benefits for creativity, innovation, resilience, and risk reduction. He also suggests ERGs reframe themselves as entities composed of individuals with multiple perspectives. This composition will help them to identify blind spots and ensure a safe space for sharing diverse opinions.

The discussion then delved into the need to change the “bad code” in our heads that tries to place people in categories instead of intentionally recognizing the myriad of varieties people come in. He challenges each person to avoid defining individuals based on physical appearance or personal preferences but rather spend time getting to know each other, offering a few thoughts on accepting people’s differences and driving change.

As a close, coming full circle back to the lessons he learned from his mother, Professor Amaechi reminds attendees that we are all giants to somebody and that being a role model is not a choice. Whether individuals know it or not, they can positively impact others through their daily decisions.

We are all giants to somebody.

When Giants Transform, It Leads to Giant Success

If there is one lasting takeaway from this discussion: People will always be the key to change.

From leadership to individuals to ERGs, we must strive to be present and aware, recognizing that transformation at the personal level is crucial to breaking down barriers to broader organizational change.

We are immensely grateful to Professor Amaechi for his expertise and the thought-provoking discussion. His insights on navigating the digitized world while keeping our humanity intact are incredibly relevant. The lessons he shared on embracing change, valuing diversity, and fostering authentic connections highlight the potential within us all to ensure an inherently human future augmented and enriched by the technologies that continue to shape our world.

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Written by Jeffrey Yeager Content Strategist

Jeff Yeager is a Content Strategist with Planview supporting the Product Portfolio Management Solution. A storyteller at heart, he has over a decade of content marketing experience with various software companies spanning industries from publishing to healthcare to AI. With a knack for distilling highly technical topics into easily consumable narratives, he is grateful for the opportunity to help elevate the Planview platform and spread its message about the benefits of connected work.