Digital Leadership: Bringing Disruption through Innovation 0

Abhijit Bhaduri
This article is a part of the All Things Talent Magazine (November 2018 Edition) – An Initiative By iimjobs.com | hirist.com
In a beguiling interview with All Things Talent Abhijit Bhaduri, Founder, Abhijit Bhaduri & Associates shares his insights on how digital tsunami is revolutionizing the traditional workspaces.
Abhijit Bhaduri is an Indian author, columnist & talent management expert with global experience across various sectors. He is the Founder of Abhijit Bhaduri & Associates where they work with individuals, teams and business units across the world to design world class talent management strategies. He is the former Chief Learning Officer of Wipro. He has led HR teams at Microsoft, PepsiCo, Colgate & TATA Steel. Awarded the Distinguished Alumnus award from XLRI, he also holds a degree in law. He has written for several publications including Harvard Business Review, The Economic Times, and the Hindu Business Line and has also authored four bestselling books. Forbes describes him as “one of the most interesting Globalists”.

Q. You were Wipro’s Chief Learning Officer and went on to become a published writer and ultimately founded your own company. Any favourite life experience which took you one step ahead in achieving your life goals?

A. I got opportunities because someone took a chance on me. I enjoyed writing. I tried my hand at writing a novel. The publishers at Harper Collins took a chance on me. The readers encouraged me and that kept me going. Readers were generous enough to appreciate my writing and that kept me going.

The same can be said of me at work. Wipro took a chance on me and gave me the canvas to experiment. That gave me a chance to put some of my ideas into practice. Some of them worked. Several of them did not. I have always had employers who have been very supportive of my ideas. I have started running my own practice. My clients have been generous enough to give me fabulous projects to work on. I believe I have been the beneficiary of people’s faith in me.

Q. Cultivating a tech-savvy workforce is not only critical to help companies grow but it is also a catalyst for revolutionizing the traditional know-how. How can companies equip talented and motivated workers with the right tools to make digital workspace a reality?

A. The digital tsunami is everywhere. There will be only two kinds of businesses – the digital ones and the extinct. In the analog world, the best technology, the fastest machines were all at the workplace. In the digital world, the best technology for most people is what is there on their mobile device. The organizations have to keep pace and make investments in work-tech. Besides facilitating productivity, tech must be used to find a better fit between the individual and the organization.

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Work-Tech must encourage employees to build skills and navigate their careers in a world where expertise will be the biggest driver of career success. The cautious adopters of digital tech look at cost saving as the reason to adopt digital tech. The real benefit of digital tech lies in being able to use tech to grow the business and identify new markets and possibilities. The market shapers are leveraging technology to create new business models. Tech is augmenting human creativity.

Q. With Millennials growing into leadership roles, communication across generations is becoming the most challenging issue in the workplace. How can businesses work on paying more attention to the generation gap? Also, how can cross-generational mentoring bridge this gap?

A. Communication has changed in many ways. There is new media like WhatsApp & Slack which people are using to communicate. These require the users to learn a new grammar. The way we now communicate has changed. Short attention spans mean that storytellers have a natural advantage. The rise of video and visuals means that the old model of communicating via emails and text is not effective.

“The real beneft of digital tech lies in being able to use tech to grow the business and identfy new markets and possibilites. The market shapers are leveraging technology to create new business models. Tech is augmentng human creatvity.”

The leaders need to communicate within the organization as well as with external stakeholders in real-time. That also means that the leaders are more likely to make mistakes. To have the humility to admit errors and acknowledge that there is a lot they do not know has created a new model of leadership.

Q. The Tech giant, Google has been using AI to power the internal talent deployment. According to you, the disruption that AI is likely to bring to work is in favor of HR or not? How can AI revolutionize today’s talent crisis?

A.Today most large corporations have resume screening software. If the keywords that you have mentioned in your resume do not match the keywords in the job ad, the software will reject that resume. But algorithms may have exactly the same kind of bias.

Q. In your opinion is it possible to cultivate creativity and innovation? If yes, then how can companies truly harness the power of their employees and not just “work with what they have” in terms of employee talent?

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A. When a company has an outside in view, they stay connected with diverse ideas and possibilities. That forms the core of an innovator’s DNA. But there is another side to every innovation – flawless execution. Writing a novel is less about having a brilliant storyline and more about finishing the incomplete novel. There is a brutally boring side to every creative idea that is not highlighted enough.

Q. Even though hiring for ‘Culture Fit’ has its benefits yet it sometimes can act as a shield for hiring discrimination. According to you what should be a midway approach when hiring people without over-indexing the importance of culturally fit parameters?

A. We all find certain work environments more appealing. A person who enjoys working in a small startup may not enjoy working in a large organization. Many others may view a large canvas as a vast set of opportunities. For somebody else it symbolises bureaucracy.

“The digital tsunami is everywhere. There will be only two kinds of businesses – the digital ones and the extinct.
In the analog world, the best technology, the fastest machines were all at the workplace. In the digital world, the best technology for most people is what is there on their mobile device.”

Hiring people from the same institution, gender or socio-economic background is a sign of unconscious bias operating. Diversity is useful when a business needs to innovate. When the need is to execute to a plan, the businesses are better off cloning what works best. For example, if a company has opened a hundred warehouses chances are that what the need has been standardized. Uniformity of expertise builds speed. But even two people with identical qualifications and experience will have very different personalities.

Q. In this coming age of social media, a new breed of online leaders known as ‘influencer’ has emerged. Are these influencer really forming a crucial component of influencer marketing or is it that they don’t really influence anything or anyone?

A. People who can engage the consumer through their own content and opinions emerge as influencers. Brands find them effective go betweens to reach their consumers. Influencers are significant when it comes to consumers making choices. Influencers are curators and powerful choice shapers for the people who trust them with their views & their wallet. It is a responsibility that can never be taken lightly.

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