The role of talent transformation and job-reinvention in the era of AI | by Kim Bartkowski | Dec, 2021


Designing Intelligent Workflows.

Kim Bartkowski

As enterprises adopt new intelligent workflows that support augmenting and automating some of the existing tasks and jobs that employees perform, it is integral that we adopt a human-centered approach that builds trust and transparency, leaning heavily on talent transformation and job-reinvention.

This article explores the interplay between disruptive technology, process re-design, business value creation and talent transformation. Human-centred design is at the core of creating these new intelligent workflows and we can leverage design to create better outcomes to utilise technology, engage people and meet strategic business outcomes. We present a framework to help design intelligent workflows and ensure that people remain at the core of the future of work.

Intelligent workflows must be designed with the user in mind.

Intelligent workflows constitute new and innovative processes where people work with machines to achieve tasks. As intelligent workflow design permeates existing business processes, and as companies move towards ideas about a “cognitive and remote enterprise,” humans and machines need to learn to work together in new ways. Historically, large business processes have been replaced with automation. These large business processes have embodied a clean “lift-and-shift” approach where a task which has traditionally been performed by a human is now replaced fully by a machine.

As core processes are automated, businesses are looking to further optimise their workflows though automation and augmentation of micro-processes. When these micro-process improvements are launched, they require humans and machines to work together to complete tasks in a workflow.

Humans must augment machines, just as machines augment humans. We should be designing intelligent workflows that account for all the jobs-to-be-done that humans and machines perform, working in a symbiotic way.

We cannot design intelligent workflows without the User in mind. Talent transformation and change management approaches must be closely adopted to ensure intelligent workflows succeed in enterprise settings. Involving Users in the design process dramatically reduces the anxiety and fear associated with this type of role change, and it starts the talent transformation process on day 1 of the MVP roadmap. More than learning new technical skills, our observations on talent transformation are about the mental and emotional shifts that come with job fulfilment. As intelligent workflows are deployed, what happens to the people who sit in those job roles? The only way to know for sure is to use a human-centred design approach.

Linking the User to technology, process, value, and talent.

Intelligent Workflow Design is a method for bringing together business processes, service design, technology platforms, and business and User values. We use intelligent workflows to create more optimal business processes, User experiences, and technology platforms.

Specifically, we want to design optimal experiences and processes for interactions between humans and machines both from an internal business and end-User perspective. In IBM Garage, we help companies vision how they might achieve better operational efficiency across their functions with these types of new workflows, and we track the anticipated value associated with the efficiencies projected. This gives business leaders and product owners the leading KPIs to know what success will look like when the workflows are deployed at scale. As part of the design process, we also provide suggestions for better job goals, job motivations and KPIs for the people who perform within these intelligent workflows to match the new experience.

Including Users of the process in design and delivery.
In both design and delivery, we include real Users to ground our work in a human-centered way. We use a human-centered design lens to consider the jobs that people perform in roles more broadly than the pure functional or practical outcome of that job. It is important to consider the social and emotional aspects of jobs performed as well as how satisfied the user is with how that job is currently performed. We consider the context that surrounds a job. The functional, social and emotional criteria linked to ‘job-success’ is critical here. While AI and machines can often perform the functional aspects of some jobs better than how people perform them, they often cannot reach the same outcomes relating to the emotional and social success of a job.

Functional, emotional, and social outcomes of jobs are important context when considering job changes. Consider a hypothetical scenario, maybe a role gets their sense of accomplishment at work from a certain job they perform. We should consider this before making any big changes to that job.

Functional: What is the functional, practical outcome/reason for doing the job?

Social: How does this job relate to a person’s team, other people, or their environment?

Emotional: Are there any emotions attached to the job? What emotions does the person feel upon completion?

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