I am on a mission to innovate business by putting people back at its centre. It seems almost a paradox in an era in which we talk more and more about robotics, automation and face the challenges that artificial intelligence is bringing to the workplace. Yet I believe that the strategic advantage of the organisations of the future is in humanising business.
Every entrepreneur needs to learn how to do this to have a future in the work environment. The experience of human-centred business begins with a common vision that is intersectional and takes into account customers, employees, employer and all the parts involved in such experience. This includes a vision that takes into account not only the business impact but also social and environmental impact. The key to do so is in the word integration. The leaders of human-centred organisations must take an effort in integrating all the elements of a complex multidimensional mixture: behaviours, context, preferences, as well as customer goals, aspirations and much more. The objective is to build sustainable relationships.
An extraordinary business starts with extraordinary people. Extraordinary people start with purpose, Jesper Lowgren said. These type of organisations don’t assume their purpose is static. They engage around their purpose and make the process iterative. There are no more excuses for not evaluating how good an organisation is doing against its purpose. This should be formally measured both externally and internally. We have the opportunity to take the lead and start asking to ourselves what is our own purpose as an individual. What drives us? What action can we take on a daily basis to live that purpose? We must start asking first to ourselves before asking to our employees and customers. In my opinion, it is the easiest and fastest way to evaluate engagement and alignment. Our own engagement before the engagement of others.
It is said, and sometimes I doubt it, that we, humans, are the most social and emotional of all the species. Yet we spend little time thinking about empathy in the design of an organisation. We experience the world through communications and collaboration , then how can we ignore the “humanistic approach” in everything we do? How can we ignore it in the work we do and hide behind “it is business, it is not personal”?
I have reflected on what are the principles and goals that we have to discuss when talking about innovating business. This is my point of view:
- Business must be designed to assist humanity. If we do so, for example, as we build more automated systems we need to focus on maintaining human autonomy, safety and dignity.
- Business must be transparent. Ethics and design go hand in hand. This means that not only businesses have data and knowledge about people but that people have insight into business and the systems they operate under.
- Business must have the goal to maximise efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people. We need broader, deeper, and more diverse engagement of populations in their design.
There are requirements for us humans too—particularly when it comes to thinking clearly about the skills future generations must prioritise and cultivate to stay relevant.
- Empathy. Perceiving others’ thoughts and feelings, collaborating and building relationships will be critical. It is through empathy we differentiate ourselves from a robot. It is through empathy we build trust.
- Integrity. The feeling of being complete, whole. We will need increased investment in an education to attain higher level integrity for people. Such education focuses not only on the development of thinking and logic but also on the emotional development.
- Creativity. The point of creativity is to keep searching; hence evolve as human species. Humans˙ search for meaning is perhaps the most fundamental search on the journey to self-discovery. The beauty of the journey is that every one of us has to find her/his own answer and create the path for oneself.
While there is no clear road map for what lies ahead of us the most critical next step in our pursuit of the future of business is to agree on an ethical and empathic framework for its design.
My take away is simple: whatever the work is, do it well and with integrity. It might seem stating the obvious but it must be stated again and again.
We all hold in our hands this responsibility.