Culture Scout 2021: 2 articles, a survey and a podcast peer into the future

culture scout

It’s that time of year when leaders channel their uncertainty about what’s happening around them now into what they think might happen in the future. As executive teams turn attention toward 2021 plans, Culture Scout has few helpful, culture-related crystal balls to toss into their mix. 

1. The heartland strikes back, and productivity tech is passe 

As head of the digital whiteboarding firm Miro, CEO Andrey Khusid has a ringside seat to digital transformation, and shares six predictions about the future of work in 2020 with ZDnet. Among his forecasts: Talent will stay regional, and that will have “a massive impact on American culture,” not to mention real estate and politics. And companies will shift the focus of their tech solutions from productivity to engagement because“in an era of remote and hybrid work, high levels of engagement will be a competitive advantage.” FYI, CultureIQ’s take is that engagement is an outcome of culture, so if you want to improve it, culture-strengthening is where you have to start.

Excerpt from the ZDnet article:

“The phenomenon of highly skilled college graduates leaving their hometowns in middle America and relocating to economic centers like Silicon Valley, New York, and Austin is commonly known as “Brain Drain,” — and remote work may finally bring it to an end.”

2. Plan your way out of fear

There are a few critical ideas leaders have to mull “when bracing for an unpredictable future,” COO Lisa Zeeveld writes in GritDaily. Zeeveld suggests starting to plan more strategically by diving deeper into analytics data, and getting more grounded by thinking about necessities like insurance, social media presence and enhanced emotional intelligence.

Excerpt from the GritDaily article:

“It’s essential to leaders to get off of the ‘insanity loop’ of what will happen next and start to make conscious and strategic decisions based on the current needs of their business – while thinking proactively of what’s to come.” 

3. Survey: Growth mindset at top of HR’s hill next year 

A recent survey from Gartner of 800 HR leaders found 3 priorities on their list for 2021: Building critical skills and compentencies, organizational design and change management, and current and future leadership. But their survey data also found some stumbling blocks in setting these priorities on a successful course. Their findings show that just 19% of HR leaders think their workforce can effectively shift direction when priorities change, just 21% say peers share accountability or collaborate with HR to determine skills needed for the future, and only 44% of employees say they trust leaders to handle a crisis well. 

Excerpt from the Gartner survey:

“Many organizations have experienced, in trying to respond at speed to the effects of the pandemic, that their years-long focus on efficiency has actually left them with rigid structures, workflows, role design and networks that don’t meet today’s needs or flex with fast-changing conditions.”

4. Could tech bring an “in office” feeling to remote work? 

A conviction that remote work, at least on a hybrid basis, is here to stay, and a hint that tech is may bring us ways to make remote work more office-like, are some of the insights that a Slack founder put forth in a delightful interview with Alexa Von Tobel, in her Inc. Founders Project podcast. Slack CTO Cal Henderson said office life in 2021 will remain flexible, remote and will need to keep incorporating agility into the mix. A big silver lining amid all the changes, Henderson says, is the talent that flexible has ushered into the door. “When we allow flexible schedules we allow more people to participate in the workforce, so I think that’s one huge win by itself,” he says.

Excerpt from the Inc. Founders Project podcast:

“One of the biggest challenges that organizations have is not the ability to know where to go … [but] how to change direction to go toward the thing that you need to get to. The biggest challenge for enabling that kind of agility is organizational alignment. The larger the organization is, the harder it is to get everybody pointed in the same direction.”

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