The Collision of Self Driving Cars and Work

 
I am fortunate to have clients in many places.  That means I get to spend time on the road - and between conference calls while driving -  I get to drive myself crazy thinking about a more productive world in a self-driving future. Here are a few sectors that can benefit by getting ready now:

 

Employment Markets - with self-driving cars people will be willing to commit to longer commutes.  According to the US Census Bureau, 86% of American workers commute to work by car, with an average round trip commuting time of 51 minutes. And 8% of American workers have round trip commutes of 2 hours or more.   Being able to spend commuting time doing something productive or something entertaining will justify considering opportunities with longer commutes. The implications for employers will cut both ways: a) you will be able to attract willing commuters from a broader radius, and b) more organizations will compete for the talent you are trying to retain.  Talent driven employers will analyze these trends, forecast driverless car impact and act on the new insight in their workforce planning.

 

Distance Learning – Today, people bogged down with long driving commutes may be deterred from taking on executive education programs and advanced degrees.  Personally, I earned my MBA from Columbia Business School at a time when I was commuting 2 hours a day on a train – built-in studying time! Campus based learning has great advantages, but it is not always an option depending on the learner’s finances or lifestyle.  Distance learning will inevitably become a more viable option for more hard working and long commuting people as driverless cars turn drive-time into discretionary time.   Strategic learning organizations, and organizations that want to help their employees develop, will see this opportunity coming and start planning for it now.

 

Media & Entertainment - the car is the last sanctuary for passive entertainment such as music and talk radio formats, and audio books.  Today radio and TV in the living room now compete with the internet, social media, smartphones and game consoles. In the same way, all forms of interactive entertainment will compete for the time and attention of those previously known as drivers. Content owners can adapt by finding ways to make their content more interactive, by offering premium content that is valued on more interactive streaming services, by protecting their rights and investing in infrastructure that ensures monetization, and by positioning themselves to command a premium for the most enticing uses of their content such as VR expanded and AI informed experiences with music, news radio, sports talk and other content genres that are primarily passive today.

 

This will bring about a significant lifestyle shift.  Many industries should be considering how they can position themselves to take advantage of this opportunity.

 

The Pros and Cons of "Off-Limits" Policies at Executive Recruiting Firms

Choosing the right executive recruiting firm is a big decision. Before investing tens of thousands of dollars in fees to recruit a VP or CXO, you want to be sure you have the right partner. 
And finally, you think you have found them! They are known in your space, connected, enthusiastic and understand your business. They also boast an impressive list of clients and recent placements. In fact, they have placed talent at the exact companies you want to recruit talent away from. Good, right? Actually, now is the moment you need to stop and ask about the firm's off-limits or hands-off policy. 
Their first answer will be how off-limits protects your company - once you become a client, the recruiting firm won't poach your talent. This is good, but you also will want to know how the flip side affects you, and what companies they will be blocked from recruiting out of on your behalf. There are several ways that off-limits policies prevent many of the most qualified people from getting on the short list, even while you are paying large retainers to your recruiting firm. 
The following are all (understandably) off-limits at most reputable recruiting firms:
  • Executives still in the role they were placed at by the recruiting firm
  • Active candidates on any open search for other clients of the search firm
  • Any employee at any company that the recruiting firm has done work for in the last 12 months. 
 
The larger or more specialized the firm, the longer this off-limits list becomes. This restriction means that when a large or well entrenched specialty firm is your exclusive recruiter, there are many ideal candidates you won't see. The solution? Before you sign on with a recruiting firm, have an open conversation about what companies you want to recruit out of, and which of those companies are off-limits to the recruiting firm. This may make some larger firms and industry specialty firms less aligned with your executive recruiting needs. 
Often boutique firms, newer firms, or generalist firms can offer more access to more qualified candidates. Be sure to invite these smaller firms to compete for your executive recruiting work to ensure you maximize the pool of candidates you can draw from.

The Secret to Cat Herding is  . .

 
. . . Making Sure The Cats Are Heard! 
We have been doing a lot of change management, leadership development and strategic planning work with clients this year.  Key to our approach is capturing the voice of the broadest set of colleagues - and doing something productive with it.  Starting the process with all-employee surveys, all-staff workshops, and high participation exercises ensures that - by design - it is safe and encouraged for everyone to equally contribute their ideas and concerns. 
 
Our program design also ensures that the leadership team truly hears from everyone, and incorporates a collective voice into future decision making, employee development and strategic planning.  We have been struck by the transformative power of simply being genuine - when our clients go beyond merely "listening" and digest the ideas (from the most anticipated to the most uncomfortable), and then commit resources and put plans into action, we see organizations enjoy a boost in resilience and agility. 
 
So before you lament the challenges of herding cats, make sure you are doing your part to ensure the cats are heard.

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