planning for the “unknown unknowns”*

That evolution in the workplace and business will be forever a moving feast must be taken as read. No sooner have businesses adjusted to

technology-driven change, a new set of implications, challenges and opportunities arrive. Harnessing digital transformation to respond to disruption requires a fundamental shift in business models and leaders that are; agile, adaptable and capable of driving a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.


We have barely reached the foothills of the mountain that is A.I, Machine Learning and the cognitive computing revolution. While much attention is given to how digital technology can transform business processes and customer experience, it is also disrupting how organisations are structured, how HR processes are managed and, most acutely, the expectations of how leaders should lead. As businesses harness digital transformation in order to respond to disruption, leaders must marshal a fundamental shift in business models, and this will require agility, adaptability and capability to drive a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Consequently, the agenda for succession planning now, is to recruit and develop a pipeline of future candidates in step with digital technology and data science, to

shape their organisations and those of their competitors, be vigilant to the ever-increasing risk from cybercrime, while still retaining the foundations of traditional leadership, emotional intelligence and a sense of purpose. Perhaps unsurprisingly, leadership roles have developed in recent times to reflect digital technology: Chief Data Scientist, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Data Officer, Chief Transformation Officer and Chief Information Security Officer - these are not roles that existed until recently, but are now joining the C-Suite and are certainly influencing the executive. The traditional leadership team is rapidly evolving: The trinity of the CEO, CFO and COO still stands firm, but with new ‘Chiefs’ and triumvirates of; CIO, CDO and CMO or CPO with a seat at the table, this reflects the transformative influence that both

digital and data are playing across every industry and function of an organisation. In reality, the Chief Digital Officer role will - in a relatively short time - cease to exist, as there will be no such thing as a non-digital company. These changes have had a huge impact on how leaders are selected and developed. For example, for a recent executive search mandate, 78 percent of the CDOs engaged were in their first senior leadership role. As such, they will have limited experience of how to operate at executive level and speak ‘executive’ language, or use it to obtain stakeholder buy-in. However, there is much that both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ chiefs can learn from each other. Dynamic, forward-thinking businesses appreciate that data and digital now affect nearly every aspect of an

36 | thehrdirector | MAY 2019

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