There’s no denying it: Disruption is trending. If you think of the biggest organizations to explode in recent years, some of the world’s most disruptive companies will come to mind – Uber, Airbnb and Tesla, to name just a few.

Only weeks ago, Elon Musk launched his SpaceX rocket; when he fired a Tesla Roadster into space, he was pushing frontiers in more than one way. The potential for investment in the space technology industry, commercial space flight and colonizing of other planets (something Musk readily admits is his goal) is disruptive, too.

But disruption doesn’t just live out in the sphere of space travel; we know that it is coming to almost every industry. After all, we’re constantly deluged with stories of how machines are going to take over our workplaces, our society and our world in general. We’ve seen this level of disruption before, of course; it was called the Industrial Revolution. That’s why disruption is, in some ways, both a tale as old as time and an increasingly banal everyday phenomenon. It automates our administrative process, leaving customers delighted and employees free to focus on more high-value activities, and it allows us to have employees spanning every time zone, so that a customer query never goes unanswered. Technology enables us to help employees get on board with the latest organizational change from their own desk, in their own time and through their device of choice.

A Very 21st-Century Dilemma

Disruption also raises a central issue that today’s business leaders are going to have to confront: In order to retain a competitive advantage, should you invest in technology, or do you want to put your money where your community is?

There’s a clear moral imperative that our people (who are not simply a human resource but a community) are at the heart of everything we do, including the strategies we implement and the culture we create. So, how do you retain your competitive edge if you choose to remain a community-focused and commercially successful organization?

Recruit For Humanity

According to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, “If technology leads to fundamental transformations in the kind of jobs available … we have to increase our focus on … investing in people.” In practice, that means that, when so much of the day-to-day menial work is done by machines, recruiters will be gloriously free to bring in people who may not have all of the technical skills they would once have been expected to but who will be fully realized humans instead. Employees will be people who deeply know their strengths and weaknesses, who are skilled relationship-builders, who know how to inspire others to do great work, and who can speak truth to power.

Just think of the possibilities for your organization if you fill your ranks with people at the very peak of their potential.

Put Your Money Where Your People Are.

There’s not a person out there who couldn’t stand to learn a little something about himself or herself. If you help all the members of your community become the very best version of themselves by giving them access to continual, meaningful, professional development, you’ll keep upping the ante on what’s possible. Increased innovation and productivity, better teamwork, a stronger culture … all of these benefits and more are up for grabs in a company where people are fulfilled, show up wholly every day and know that they’re appreciated for exactly who they are.

Use Technology With Humanity at Heart.

If you choose to proceed with humanity at the heart of your business, you can implement artificial intelligence and machine learning in a way that frees your people to do things differently: to dream bigger and to work smarter and on projects that inspire and push them.

Amidst all of this innovation, there’s learning to consider. Today’s learners are smart and connected and want to control their own learning. We need to mix up the media – yes, do face to face learning, but make it applicable and smart, and mix it with video, podcasts, e-books, interactive webinars, quick exercises and impactful one-on-one human conversations. Building a real, human-centered culture will sustain your community, giving your organization a competitive edge that can’t be replicated by competitors.

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