For more information about Improvid Performance Consulting visit our Human Performance Improvement website.

In the next decade, more than a third of jobs won’t need a human to do them. As Alan Hosking writes “Unless you’ve just returned from a long stint on Mars, you will be very familiar with all the talk, articles, presentations and workshops that are shouting out the same message: Big changes are coming and they’re unprecedented in terms of their scope, impact and magnitude (read full article here).”

The future workplace…

The automation of processes will unfortunately mean that the basic tasks people perform will be taken over by robots (with associated job losses).  Some of the implications could be:

  • Automation will play a huge role in determining which “jobs” are relevant and whether repetitive tasks can be removed. Robots will do predictable work, nevertheless, it’s important to remember that creativity and innovation cannot be replicated (just yet!).
  • When contact centres were first introduced, they focused on the wrong side of the value chain. Employees should be placed above customers, because they are the source of innovation and value in any organisation. In other words: Flip the value chain.  This is also true for the monsters of back offices that mushroomed due to risk and compliance issues.
  • “Human” will be the new word and focus for organisations. Rohit Talwar writes in 20 Predictions for 2017: “The corporate sector and many governments continued to adopt a somewhat cautious approach to the use of disruptive technologies such as block chain and AI. Those who are pursuing expensive digital transformation projects began to see that their technology initiatives were eliminating the distinguishing human element and effectively commodifying everything they do. They began to learn that digital differentiation is impossible to maintain and that their strategies were almost identical to their competitors.”

(You can read more how you can prepare for the changing workplace in 8 steps to focus on in a volatile world).

What does this mean for your business?

The challenge of cost-saving, mitigating risk, improving value contribution and sustainability of performance in any area of the business is becoming increasingly important given potential rapid process automation (RPA).  Very often one or some parts in the value chain are highlighted for attention, particularly in highly-regulated environments and industries. However, it’s good practice, if not essential, to regularly audit all elements to identify and confirm the value of their contribution to the organisation.

The benefits of flipping the value chain!

The Human Performance Improvement practice of systems thinking supports a performance-based “double C” approach that starts with the customer and ends with the customer. Consider the following:

  • Customer What are the actual current and future business needs of customers?  Are we delivering what they are expecting? Is it aligned with our strategic direction?
  • Conditions: What are the conditions and changes in the environment and the performance landscape that will impact sustainable results and performance?  Do we presently focus enough on the future? A conundrum indeed, but it has relevance for staying current.
  • Outcomes: What should sustainably be delivered and achieved for customers?
  • Input: What is needed for sustainable outcomes? Do you have the innovative strategies and resources, particularly the right talent and are you focusing on the “human” as indicated in  Bersin 2017 Predictions?
  • Process: How will the sustainable outcomes be achieved? Do you have the right systems in place? How important is technology? Is your focus on technology too little or too much?
  • Consequences: How will holistic performance be managed?  What are the feedback loops? How will the sustainable results be measured?
  • Customer: Have sustainable results and business needs been achieved and addressed?  Are you retaining existing and attracting new customers?  Are your strategies aligned with the future?

Performance Improvement, as a practice, is based on systems thinking which simply means any performance in a value chain happens in a holistic way and the system is dependent on it components for delivering value and performance to the customer, first and foremost. Organisational, operational and people factors should therefore be aligned for risk-free impact on the entire value chain.

The first four International Standards for Performance Improvement has particular relevance when flipping the value chain:

  1. Focus on results and outcomes by taking the risk profile into consideration.
  2. Identify and view any performance and risk systemically: Align all the sub-systems and all the elements in the value chain that will impact performance.
  3. Add value to all the areas of work without placing too much emphasis on the activities of any particular element in the value chain.
  4. Work in partnership: Include all stakeholders to minimise risk and maximise performance and value in the total value chain.

10 Ways to FLIP the value chain

  1. Focus more on value chain streamlining given for instance, in a highly regulatory environment.
  2. Determine how to create an environment for self-directing performance in a highly-controlled context or industry.
  3. Identify and address the behavioural elements required for success.
  4. Do a risk audit of the entire value chain by identifying the “go” and “no-go” risks at people, operational and organisational levels.
  5. Identify the external factors that are out of your control.
  6. Map and identify each process activity and step in the value chain from the front office to the back office to identify the exponential value. Understand its impact on risk as well as its measurable contribution (particularly the repetitive processes).
  7. Incrementally introduce robotics (RPA) to automate the repetitive processes without compromising possible risk deviation, compliance and governance issues.
  8. Flip the value chain by identifying and shifting value from the back office to the front office (as this is where the growth of your business will happen). Stay close to the needs of your customers.
  9. Shift value to the front office by placing more emphasis on developing current talent, as well as the new employees who are redundant in the back office, as a result of automation.
  10. This may also necessitate a rethinking of the business and operating model, as well as creating a new performance architecture and landscape to support this shift to the Future of Work (FOW) world.

Apply the People Risk Impact Assessment below as a guideline:


4 Steps you can take to get started – today!

  1. Make a decision. Identify the “go” and “no-go” risks. How will you mitigate risk?
  1. Take action. Create a new performance dashboard and architecture. Design and implement new plans that are based on holistic, risk-free performance to avoid irrelevant activities that are time and money-wasters.
  1. Make a commitment. Design and deliver sustainable value to your customers based on informed data and don’t fall victim to vendor fads and one-leader-wonders.
  1. Measure results and outcomes as well as evaluating value chain outcomes and sustainability. This will allow for the continuous refreshing of plans and strategies that don’t work.

Remember any performance in a value chain happens in a holistic way and the system is dependent on it components for delivering value and performance to the customer, first and foremost. In order for you organisation to thrive in the FOW, it’s essential that organisational, operational and people factors are aligned for risk-free impact on the entire value chain.  To learn more about this process, read my article on future performance here.

If you would like to know more about what we do, please visit our website or connect with Belia Nel on LinkedIn.