2018 Global Talent Summit Report

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A Global Affairs Media Network F E BR UA RY 2 0 1 8 I S PE CIAL REPORT ON TH E 2018 GLOBAL TALEN T SUM M IT



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06 I Highlights from the 2018 Global Talent Summit

By: Ana C. Rold

12 I The Role of STEM Education in Preparing Future Global Talent

Presenter: Anders Hedberg

14 I Productive Failure: Principles for Developing Talent for the Future

Presenter: Manu Kapur

Presenter: Scott Hartley

Presenter: Anand Chopra-McGowan

20 I Leveraging Crowd Intuition in the Future of Innovation

Presenter: Jacob Friis Sherson

22 I How to Fix the Future

Presenter: Andrew Keen

24 I Putting the Fun into Work with Robots

16 I Why the Liberal Arts Matter in an Algorithmic World

18 I Practical Solutions to Closing the Tech Skills Gap

28 I Industry 4.0: Impact on Organization, People, and Society

Presenter: Volker Stephan

30 I Critical Continua for the Future of Organizations

Presenter: Carissa Carter

32 I What Works: Gender Equality by Design

Presenter: Iris Bohnet

Presenter: Andra Keay

26 I The Flexible Future of Organizations

Presenter: Shanthi Flynn

Masthead Publishing house Medauras Global publisher & ceo Ana C. Rold Editorial Advisors Andrew M. Beato Sir Ian Forbes Lisa Gable Mary D. Kane Greg Lebedev Anita McBride Creative Director Christian Gilliham director of social media Madeleine Terry un correspondent Akshan de Alwis

GLobal talent summit 2018 Featured presenters (In order of appearance in the GTS18 Programme) Lino Guzzella Ana C. Rold Susan Kish Chris Luebkeman Anders Hedberg Manu Kapur Scott Hartley Anand Chopra-McGowan Jacob Friis-Sherson Andrew Keen Andra Keay Shanthi Flynn Volker Stephan Carissa Carter Iris Bohnet

DC EDITORS Michael Kofman Paul Nash Report author & Contributing editor Winona Roylance senior photographers Michelle Guillermin Sebastian Rich CONTRIBUTORS Charles Crawford Marc Ginsberg Justin Goldman Joshua Huminski Sarah Jones Arun S. Nair Bailey Piazza Richard Rousseau

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ISSN. The Library of Congress has assigned: ISSN 2161-7260 (Print); ISSN 2161-7287 (Online). ISBN: 978-1-942772-01-9 (Print); 978-1-942772-02 (Online). LEGAL. Copyright Š2006-2018 Diplomatic Courier and Medauras Global. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced without written consent of the publishers. All trademarks that appear in this publication are the property of the respective owners. Any and all companies featured in this publication are contacted by Medauras Global and the Diplomatic Courier to provide advertising and/or services. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information in this publication, however, Medauras Global and the Diplomatic Courier magazine make no warranties, express or implied in regards to the information, and disclaim all liability for any loss, damages, errors, or omissions. CONTACT. Mailing Address: Diplomatic Courier, 1660 L Street, NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC 20036, U.S. Fax: 202-659-5234. E-mail: editors@diplomaticourier.org. ART/PHOTOGRAPHY/ILLUSTRATIONS. Cover photo by Joshua Fuller; p14-15 by Martin Reisch; p17-18 by Denys Nevozhai; p22-23 by Igor Kasalovic; p25 by Steven Wei; p26 by Mia Baker; p28-29 by Mike Kononov; p30-31 by Yiran Ding; p32-33 by Nattu Adnan. All GTS event photos courtesy of ETH Zurich. All other images by BigStockPhotos.com.


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Highlights from the 2018 global talent summit By Ana C. Rold


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hile the future of education remains ambiguous, all members of the Global Talent Summit education panel agree—current educational systems and frameworks will need to change drastically in order to prepare students for a tech-filled future. Anders Hedberg, Global leader of STEM education policy, argues that all educational institutions need to focus more heavily on STEM, as these are the skills that will be the most necessary for the future of work; conversely, Scott Hartley, author of “The Fuzzy and The Techie,” advocates for more focus on the liberal arts and how they can be used in conjunction with STEM subjects. Manu Kapur, professor of learning sciences at ETH Zurich, argues that focus on which subjects in school are most significant isn’t as important as how these subjects should be taught, while Anand Chopra-McGowan, Global Head of Consumer Practice at General Assembly, says that individualized programs are what is really necessary to fill the tech skills gap found in many workplaces. Judge a person by their questions, not their answers. With most modern educational programs advocating for learning through problem-solving, not enough emphasis is being placed on inquiry-based learning where asking questions can be just as important as searching for solutions, and can even lead to unique insights and deeper levels of learning. Nonsensical questions should be asked to students in order to stimulate a student’s creativity. In order to have students focus fully on inquiry-based thinking, asking questions such as “what if our ears were round?” has the ability to stimulate creativity and deeper

“Some of these disciplines that we think of as dusty old books are actually very modern concepts and questions.” –Scott Hartley levels of thinking in students as they explore theoretical answers to the question. Learning environments need to be crafted in a way that stimulates questions. Rather than creating learning environments in which teachers from a purely teaching background or experts from a strictly working background teach a subject, experts need to be partnered with experienced instructional designers to create a learning experience for students that allows experts to teach about their experience using frameworks instructional designers provide for them in order to combine the right amount of experience, discussion, creative thinking and question asking. Productive Failure allows students to ask questions in order to learn. While most emphasis is usually placed on problem-solving, aspects such as problem-posing and problemfinding are equally as important, but often less common. Indeed, it F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 08

is through focus on questions that students can apply learned knowledge to new contexts, a task that ultimately builds stronger learning abilities. Young minds need to get in the habit of asking questions. Asking questions is the basis of inquirybased learning, and it is crucial for young learners to begin nurturing this habit as early as possible in order to understand how it is the questioning of preconceived notions and prior knowledge that can create paths to new insights. Apprenticeship programs are making a resurgence in higher education. Many U.S. higher education institutions have begun focusing on apprenticeship programs. With the pendulum of higher education swinging back towards more experience-based learning, focus on programs such as apprenticeships and internships are becoming more popular. While historically successful, apprenticeship programs do not scale well. While apprenticeships provide a powerful learning context, there are more effective ways to transfer experiential learning to students. If you can take the dynamic of knowledge gathered from the disciplinary practice




of apprenticeships and design learning environments based on this concept in schools, you can provide the same sort of knowledge in a classroom environment created specifically with a learning framework in mind. A bridge needs to be created between science and liberal arts. While Techies—those in STEM fields —have traditionally steered clear of Fuzzies—those with a liberal arts background—it is absolutely crucial for the students of the future to focus on the multidisciplinary aspects of both, as this will be the only way to not only survive the future of technology, but succeed as humans in such a landscape. We have applied math—we need applied liberal arts. Much like how applied math teaches learning through the doing of math, programs that focus on applying liberal arts to real situations—such as applied philosophy or applied anthropology —should also be put into place. By placing equal emphasis on both science and the humanities, a person’s

“Asking good questions underpins the whole concept of inquiry-based learning.” –Anders Hedberg

“The ability to solve a problem helps you dive deep into the domain; the ability to ask the question helps you transfer it to different situations.” –Manu Kapur ability to navigate complicated questions in the context of STEM, such as ethics in the context of self-driving cars, will allow for the creation of innovative solutions that need to be found.

hile there is a plethora of factors that contribute to how the future of work will ultimately be shaped, the role of humans and technology and the potential partnership between the two will not only redefine the function of work, but the responsibility of humans as a species as well. While Andra Keay, managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, envisions an ideal future where automation in the workplace will help humans in a variety of ways and allow humans to focus more on their interests and passions, Andrew Keen, best-selling author, fears a more dystopian future characterized by powerful monopolies on technology. Jacob Friis Sherson, director of ScienceAtHome, however, believes in a more neutral future where humans and algorithms can work together to reach new insights into human psychology. However, the question still remains: which of these futures is the most likely?

Hybrid roles are in high demand. Digital product managers, for example, are extremely hard to find due to the lack of eligible candidates that have backgrounds in both liberal arts and science, as the type of person who is required needs to be someone at the nexus of technology, design and business.

The question of whether or not machines are capable of consciousness remains ambiguous. Perhaps one of the biggest dangers —and opportunities—of the future of work is the potential for artificial intelligence to eventually reach a state of consciousness. Questions regarding whether or not this will have positive or negative effects— or if it is even within the realm of possibility—however, still remain.

Technological problems need to be reframed. There is a lack of humanities degree holders in the technology sector available to answer the question. In order to attract those with a focus in humanities, therefore, questions need to be reframed in the context of a social or human problem. ●

Machine consciousness is a possibility, but it is a long way away. Andra Keay posits that while consciousness in machines may be possible in the distant future, questions regarding whether or not we would be able to recognize if a machine reached a state of consciousness, its willingness to


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“The role of benefit can be derived from the sense that if we have activities in which we have various forms of synergy, that has forms of usefulness.” –Jacob Friis Sherson communicate its consciousness and any potential interest it may have in dominating the human race would make it difficult to determine if true consciousness as we understand it had been achieved. Experiments in inputting emotions into algorithms may lead to machine consciousness. Sherson argues that while data scientists can input certain behaviors into algorithms that have the effect of creating emotive-like actions, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not emotionally reconfiguring algorithms could lead to consciousness. Regardless of consciousness, artificial intelligence is dangerous for the future. Andrew Keen argues that the biggest problem with artificial intelligence is its vulnerability to the winner-takes-all economy that has developed around the Internet, for example, where most of the money and activity in these technologies is being developed by a tiny group of massively wealthy companies—something that poses potential consequences such as the monopolization and radical privatization of artificial intelligence. While it is difficult to sketch the exact outline of what work will look like in the future, one thing is certain—it will be radically different from what we know today. Our work tasks will be informed by our interactions with technology. Because the world of work places such emphasis on the role of efficiency, tasks that create better efficiency will become more common in future workplaces—and with algorithms in

“We need to turn our technologies and economies to the pursuits that are already there within us.” –Andra Keay particular being designed to be more efficient, the partnership between humans and algorithms will be crucial to working together on these tasks. Not only is the future of work uncertain, but so is today’s work landscape. Many social theorists hypothesize that work during the Paleolithic era of humans amounted to no more than a few hours a day of work, with the rest of the time spent on social pursuits. Over time, therefore, our relationship with work has continued to change, and it is therefore difficult to determine whether or not aspects such as survival, money or the pursuit of happiness and entertainment will characterize the future of work. The future of work will see an increasing difficulty in obtaining a job. With current workforces being built upon an inherent precariousness that is characterized by its dependency upon temporary, part-time jobs instead of lifelong careers, it will be a challenge for future workers to obtain jobs that provide stability and structure. ● F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 10



hile the future of organizations remains largely unpredictable, influences from technology, education and an ever-changing workforce will undoubtedly play a large role in how organizations will interact with future economies and labor markets. Carissa Carter, director of teaching and learning at Stanford University, argues that the concept of inclusion will be a critical factor to determining the future success of organizations; similarly, Iris Bohnet of Harvard Kennedy School agrees that it is the increasing inequality found throughout the world today that will be the biggest challenge for organizations moving forward. Conversely, Volker Stephan, head of human resources at ABB, debates that globalization will present the greatest opportunities and challenges for companies, and Shanthi Flynn, chief human resources officer at Adecco Group, argues that it is actually education that will continue to play the biggest role in the future of organizations.


“What is the best predictor of performance? It is actually a work sample test. It is not where you went to school, it is not your education, it is not your background, and it is not who you are—it is what you can do.” –Iris Bohnet Teaching people how to relearn is key to the future success of organizations. While the idea of teaching people how to learn instead of what to learn is logical in theory, figuring out the methods by which people can effectively practice learning remains a challenge, though methods such as inquiry-based learning and productive failure are helping researchers gain new insights into how we can encode knowledge more successfully in the future. Learning how to learn leads to the ability to transfer previous knowledge into new contexts. For example, when global company 3M originally hired a team of scientists to tackle the task of refining an extremely strong glue, they accidentally created a new type of glue that could stick and unstick itself —and rather than throwing away this new insight, 3M was able to apply this knowledge into a new product they decided to call “post-it notes”. It is this sort of learning through failure and applying these insights to a new context that ultimately led to the successful creation of a new product. We need to change learning environments that foster productive failure. In order to learn how to learn better, it is important for instructors to create environments in which students can experiment and learn while becoming comfortable with taking ownership of their own failures—without the repercussions of this failure reflecting on their grades. In this way, students will be more prepared to learn from their mistakes in the real world and turn this knowledge towards new insights, rather than letting these failures discourage them. Learning how to learn requires reflection. In a learning environment, it

is crucial that time be set aside for reflection, questioning and pondering. Whether it’s listening to a lecture, reading a book or experimenting with one’s hands, it is important to continue to engage the brain afterwards in order to think about the newly acquired knowledge in the context of oneself and different situations. Agility can be learned. While traditionally viewed as a personality trait, modern research reveals that learning agility is a behavior that can be practiced and mastered by everyone. It is the responsibility of companies, therefore, to assess their employees’ learning agility in order to cater different skills programs to the needs of each individual employee. The gig economy will greatly affect all organizations. With the advent of the gig economy—which is the concept of labor markets based on freelancing and short-term contracts —organizations will have to change not only their relationship with their employees, but also the way in which these tasks will be accomplished, either by humans or automations. Many industries have been employing gig-like practices for decades. In the traditional retail economy, for example, most organizations tend to have predictable business cycles with peak seasons that cause the number of employees needed at any given time to fluctuate dramatically. The decadeslong practice of hiring temporary employees during peak season demonstrates one way businesses have been dealing with short-term employees for years. Freelancing is on the rise. While freelance work has always existed, recent technological and digital developments have created a drastic rise in the volume of these workers


throughout the world, and the gig economy has created a system in which rather than having one long-term career, workers who turn to freelance now need to work several short-term contracts to make a living—and while this form of work provides less stability, it also has the added benefit of allowing freelancers to use their skillset in different and innovative ways. There is often an implicit class system between full-time workers and freelancers. With the labor market’s move towards a gig economy, companies are beginning to have to employ both full-time and freelance workers to fill their needs—and sometimes, mistreatment of freelancers can occur and toxic work environments can develop consequently. It is in the best interest of an organization, therefore, to treat all workers with respect and foster an inclusive environment in order to inspire a healthy team environment that creates productivity and efficiency. The future of organizations will be global. With the Technological Revolution well under way, current and emerging technologies will enable companies to become even more global and digital in the coming years. Competency and merit should be the basis for hiring job candidates. With educational qualifications becoming more centered on brand name than actual skill level, it is crucial that organizations find other ways to assess competency and actual skill level in job candidates in order to ensure that those with merit can succeed in the job they apply for. Inclusion is a huge opportunity for the future of organizations. In addition to advocating for inclusion to expand the talent pool within organizations, it is also important for organizations to promote technologies that are inclusive so that people from all walks of life can use this technology to arrive at new insights and innovations in the workplace. ●

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hen is the best time to begin preparing individuals for a global future largely characterized by its unforeseeable job landscape? While the exact shape of the future of work may be uncertain, one thing is for sure: STEM education will be a necessary component to navigating an undoubtedly technology-laden workplace. It is crucial, therefore, that STEM education—comprised of lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math—is taught from an early age and across all educational systems in order to best prepare students for an ambiguous future. Innovation is crucial to economic development and wellbeing.

Presenter: Anders Hedberg

The 2017 Global Innovation Index, published by Cornell University, INSEAD and WIPO, revealed that there is a direct positive correlation between national innovation capacity and the economic development and wellbeing of a country. In order to improve a country’s wellbeing, therefore, it is necessary to focus on innovation capacity from within the country. F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 12

Innovation capacity can be used as a global equalizer. As revealed in the Global Innovation Index, the national economic development and wellbeing of a country is directly tied to its capacity to innovate, and therefore can help countries with marginal national wellbeing catch up to those with higher levels of wellbeing—as long as they can create innovative talent from within. Innovation skills cannot be packaged or shipped. In order for countries with marginal wellbeing to increase their economic power, however, it is crucial to develop innovative capacities from within through the education of the younger generation—something that can only be done through strategic education that includes STEMcentered education from an early age. STEM education needs to be infused into formal education systems. STEM education encompasses not only science, technology, engineering and math but also concepts such as innovation, creativity, problem


solving, critical thinking, and respect for evidence—all of which can be taught and nurtured in a school setting, and should be encouraged at the earliest level. Empower teachers to be effective role models. Educators are the backbone of the education system and as such, it is important to support programs in which teachers are trained to help learners explore topics using inquiry-based instruction instead of the traditional system of simply providing mass amounts of information. Introduce programs that help teachers become more familiar with different career paths. Similar to changing focus from traditional models of education to inquiry-based education, programs that educate instructors on different workplace environments and career practices are necessary in order to allow educators to more effectively give students real-world knowledge about the different career path options available to them, as well as provide classroom-based experience

dealing with these different fields of work.

“It is really about how we use the knowledge and how we contribute to society, the community and our profession that is the important outcome of education.” –Anders Hedberg Be an advocate for an effective K-12 STEM education. It is important for all members of the community to engage with legislative and community leaders about the need for more effective STEM programs in today’s education system, as well as advocate for more partnerships between the education sector and workplace sector in order to create a more efficient talent pipeline. ●


ABOUT THE PRESENTER Anders Hedberg earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physiology and Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, University of Göteborg, Sweden. Dr. Hedberg has served on several national boards, including the Smithsonian Science Education Center, Teach for America, National Alliance of Business, Biological Science Curriculum Study and Rider University Science Advisory Board. He currently leads a private firm specializing in partnership development and collaboration between the education, private and government sectors for STEM education and workforce development in the U.S. and internationally.

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ith new and emerging technologies spurring rapid change throughout the world, there is much anxiety over whether or not our current educational infrastructure will be able to develop the talent necessary to keep pace with this evolution. Indeed, experts from across industries agree that the traditional, top-down approach most educational institutions use today will ultimately be rendered inadequate in preparing students for the unknown future landscape of work—and therefore, a new, more flexible model focused on creativity, innovation and learning how to learn is critical to developing the talent necessary to tackling future careers. There are four critical principles derived from the science of learning.

Presenter: Manu Kapur

Rather than focusing on traditional forms of learning such as rote memorization and pure data consumption, it is crucial for learning scientists, educators and students alike to learn how to learn in an effort to increase their ability to solve novel problems through creativity and innovation. Therefore, learning scientists have identified four critical F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 14

principles that separate learning from simple information gathering: Seeing vs. Encoding. There is a drastic difference in simply seeing information versus encoding it effectively. In a football match, for example, while both the coach and spectators receive the same visual information from the match, the coach (an expert) would view the game much differently than a crowd of novices. If you want to teach somebody about something you have expertise in, therefore, the first step is not to teach—it is to mentally prepare and prime them, and then to begin teaching them once the groundwork has been laid. Knowing vs. Doing. While many jobs, such as carpentry, traditionally relied on learning through doing— for example, you wouldn’t expect a carpenter’s apprentice to have taken classes in physics, mathematics and business before beginning their training, despite the fact those are essential components of the carpentry trade—many of today’s educational systems have divorced learning from doing, where we expect students to learn the knowledge first and gather experience later. However, studies show that the best way to learn is


to let the “knowing” be situated in the “doing”—in other words, to allow students to learn through experience. Basic Knowledge vs. Creativity. In order to be creative and innovative, it is critical to first gather a base of knowledge upon which one can later play around with. Indeed, when knowledge is used as a conceptual toy, true creativity and innovation begin to occur more frequently. Learning vs. Performance. While we intuitively understand that low learning and low performance result in unproductive failure—and that high learning and high performance result in productive success—the most dangerous form is low learning coupled with high performance, which results in a form of unproductive success. It is this illusion of success with very little actual deep learning that has become common throughout school systems, and has ultimately resulted in poor learning habits. Productive failure is the most effective way of learning. Productive failure—which is the result of high learning and low performance—is perhaps the most

“You have to design for creative practices while learning even very simple concepts.” –Manu Kapur effective way to not only learn things on a deeper level, but also simultaneously encourage more creativity and innovation. Productive failure can be simulated in a math classroom. In learning the concept of standard deviation, for example, an experiment asking students to calculate the most consistent striker from a set of football data was given to students in an effort to test their creativity and prime them for the eventual “correct” way to solve for the data. The experiment ultimately revealed that students most often used previous math concepts they had already learned— such as finding the average, calculating year-to-year difference, and taking the sum—in an attempt to solve this purposely-unsolvable problem. Eventually, certain students managed to “solve” the problem through graphing the changes in scores and stretching the results into a straight line using trigonometry.


Productive failure in the classroom setting can lead to deep learning. Because students were forced to think creatively before learning the concept of standard deviation, their minds were primed to better understand new math concepts due to their knowledge of how not to solve the problem. It is through this active doing of math—rather than simply learning about math—and productively failing that students are ultimately able to learn new concepts deeply and effectively. ●

ABOUT THE presenter Manu Kapur is professor of Learning Sciences and Higher Education, educational psychology, and STEM education at ETH Zurich. Previously, Manu was a professor of Psychological Studies at the Education University of Hong Kong. He is widely known for his research on Productive Failure.

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hile the nurturing of STEM-related skills in both K-12 and higher education is an undeniable necessity for students in today’s technology-centered landscape, the development of a liberal arts mindset may be just as fundamental in order to not only discover what it means to be human in contrast to technology, but to also learn how we can combine our humanity with technology to solve the world’s biggest problems. In fact, many of the founders of some of the best companies in Silicon Valley boast a solid liberal arts background in fields such as philosophy and linguistics and use these skills to not only think about the world from a human perspective, but to also apply technology meaningfully to problems they see in the world. Ultimately, it is this combination of humanity and technology found in these tech founders that demonstrates how it will take skill from both science and liberal arts to tackle the world’s biggest problems. The way automation affects the future of jobs is up to us. While technology will undoubtedly alter the landscape of jobs in both F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 16

the near and far future, it is important to remember that jobs aren’t monolithic by nature but are instead comprised of a plethora of tasks of varying levels of complexity—and while many of these tasks will eventually be performed by much more efficient technologies, the most complex tasks will always require a human element. There is a growing chasm between science and the humanities. While many are beginning to understand the significance of both science and liberal arts working in conjunction with each other, the decades-old dichotomy between the two remains persistent throughout educational institutions, despite evidence that it is only through the combination of science and humanities that we can successfully navigate the future and ensure humans remain part of the equation. Oxford University has found that 47% of U.S. jobs are at high risk of being affected by automation. Similarly, the McKinsey Global Institute has found that around 30% of tasks in 60% of jobs are tasks that could be technologically automated


“While we think about the importance of STEM, we can’t disentangle that from the need for broader context as well.” –Scott Hartley ourselves—on a deeper level.

in the coming years. These tasks will most likely be comprised of more simple, routine and manual responsibilities associated with low-skilled duties, however. Humans will be in charge of more complex tasks. Because automation will be able to efficiently accomplish the simplebut-necessary low-skilled tasks, humans will be freed to focus on more complex tasks, including those those that require a lot of cognitive thought and a break from routine— such as improvisation, collaboration and empathy. And because the liberal arts places heavy emphasis on these aspects, it suffices to say that liberal arts should remain a necessary part of any student’s education. We need to know how to ask the right questions. There is a lot of talk about data science, but not enough about data literacy. While we live in a world of overwhelming amounts of data, figuring out how to interpret this data and ask the right questions is a difficulty necessary to understanding technology—and by extension,

People from all different backgrounds need to participate in answering hard-pressing questions facing the technology sector. Analytics company Kaggle is one such example of how innovative question-asking can lead to real answers. Having found that a large portion of data is locked up in silos, Kaggle decided to partner with NASA, the European Space Agency and the Royal Astronomical Society in an effort to release previously private data on dark matter and create a competition around this data that asked the question of how best to quantify the amount of dark matter in the universe. Within two weeks, a glaciology student from Cambridge was able to use their background in glacier sciences to accurately quantify the amount of dark matter in the universe, a task that had taken each of the agencies years to find a solution to. It is about IA (Intelligence Augmentation), not AI (Artificial Intelligence).

as the age and location of their consumers—that would affect the stylist’s ability to objectively suggest clothing preferences. Questions of ethics need to be posed in technology. In today’s attention economy, many technologies are being optimized for a lean-back world where users scroll through services that are monetizing based on engagement and time spent within the app. However, technology should be something that enables us to perform better, and therefore we need to tackle technology from a more philosophical and social perspective that focuses on the betterment of our individual selves and the human species as a whole. We need to blend philosophers with engineers. For example, employees at Quora, a question and answer website, were faced with an important question early on in the development of their company: should their website allow users to post writ-large, or should a moderating system be enforced? With similar questions found throughout tech and non-tech companies alike, it is important to have employees with experience in fields such as philosophy, ethics and even constitutional rights available to provide more human perspectives on the less-technical aspects of a company. ●

While we often view algorithms as standing for truth and objectivity, at their core they are merely a series of determinations and questions asked by the coder. Viewing technology as an extension of humanity rather than an objective truth, therefore, has the ability to reveal new insights into how humans can design technology to better our businesses and better ourselves. ABOUT THE presenter

Data science can be used to mitigate human bias. Stitch Fix—a Netflix-like clothing subscription company—is one such example of how machine learning and humans can work together to create a successful business. Using data science to help machine learning determine the clothing preferences of their consumers, Stich Fix’s 3,400 stylists are able to de-mitigate any biases—such


Scott Hartley is a venture capitalist and best-selling author of THE FUZZY AND THE TECHIE, a Financial Times business book of the month, and fi nalist for the Financial Times and McKinsey & Company’s Bracken Bower Prize for an author under 35. He has served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the White House, a Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV), and a Venture Partner at Metamorphic Ventures. Prior to venture capital, Scott worked at Google, Facebook, and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He holds three degrees from Stanford and Columbia and is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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ith technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, the tech skills gap is bigger than ever before. The General Assembly, which is an organization created by the United Nations in an effort to pave transformative career pathways for people in exactly the areas employers desperately need, is one such institute that is tackling this problem through the creation of campuses and individualized programs for companies struggling with the technology skills gap. Fortunately, with over $110 million in venture funding, the General Assembly and other similar venture funds may just have enough capacity to begin closing the tech skills gap— and many are already well on their way to doing so. There are several forces affecting the tech skills gap. While there are many forces affecting the tech skills gap both negatively and positively, the near future will see the biggest impact from these three forces: Force One: Automation. Because companies are beginning to implement advanced software F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 18

and artificial intelligence that is often more capable at effectively accomplishing tasks than their human counterparts, many companies are starting to reconsider the ways in which they deploy their talent and human resources—including how many human employees are actually necessary. Force Two: Digital revenue streams. Digital revenue streams are not only increasing dramatically within tech companies, but across all sectors as well—especially the industrial, retail, cosmetics and packaging industries. Because businesses from all sectors are digitizing many of their services, therefore, data scientists and software engineers will continue to be in high demand in virtually every company. Force Three: Talent with digital skills is lacking. In current and future talent pools, workers with sufficient digital skills are failing to keep pace with the increasing demand for their expertise, despite efforts in education and talent development to alleviate this problem. There are a plethora of potential solutions to closing the tech skills gap.


“We’re seeing that companies are taking matters into their own hands—not necessarily sitting back and complaining about the impact of automation and the changes on their workforce, but instead coming up with creative solutions and new ways of closing that talent skills gap and making it work for them so that people can pursue the work they love.” –Anand Chopra-McGowan

Solution One: Expand the talent pool. Rather than looking for new talent through traditional avenues, look in unconventional places—such as graduates with humanities degrees or even your own employees. In the insurance industry, for example, many large insurance companies are pushing for new data-driven insurance policies and are consequently in need of data scientists. Rather than hiring from an empty talent pool, however, some companies have turned to their internal actuaries, whose duties as risk profilers and data analyzers have already given them many of the skills data scientists require. Similarly, companies like Capital One have begun tackling their lack of data scientists through the creation of 6-month long developer academies that can turn liberal arts graduates into software engineers—many of whom often out-perform traditionally trained software engineers. Solution Two: Follow the money. While many companies’ talent acquisition budgets account for as much as $25,000 per person in hiring new talent, their learning and development budget often only puts aside around $1,000 per employee

per year. By allocating the talent acquisition budget into the learning and development budget, however, companies can actually begin to save money and time by re-training current employees to take on any new skills necessary to expanding their company’s technology capabilities instead of hiring new workers. Solution Three: Bring data to the conversation. Whether or not an employee is well versed in data, every employee should be encouraged to come up with new solutions, ideas and products based on data and facts. In order to increase digital literacy, therefore, it is important for companies to train a large portion of their employees in different data-oriented skills. The General Assembly’s work with Booz Allen, for example, allowed employees of varying skill levels to participate in learning courses best suited to their already existing skillset in an effort to dramatically shift the skills of existing employees to fill the data skills gap the company was experiencing. Solution Four: Rethink outplacement programs. As companies are forced to lay off employees as they change their talent pipelines, existing


severance packages and outplacement training programs are often ineffective in preparing former employees for a new job. However, Liberty Mutual, an American insurance company, decided to design a 3-month course in partnership with General Assembly in an effort to not only prepare former employees for the skillset they will need to successfully navigate any new job, but to also provide them the opportunity to re-apply for their jobs back at the company if they are able to successfully complete the course. ●

ABOUT THE presenter Anand Chopra-McGowan leads General Assembly’s European operations, and has been with the company since its founding in 2011, responsible for various roles over the past 6 years. Prior to that Anand worked in business development roles at SCVNGR (a US tech startup) and The Ad Club (a regional trade association) in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in India and attended Boston University.

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s we approach a hypothetical singularity—which is the idea that computer algorithms with general computing capabilities will be able to surpass human capabilities in the near future—questions about humanity and our existence as a species have come into play. Jacob Friis Sherson, director of the ScienceAtHome project, believes that rather than a bleak future in which robots surpass humans in all areas, increases in artificial intelligence capabilities will actually provide a unique opportunity for us to reexamine what it means to be human—and we will therefore be able to reconsider human psychology with the help of sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms.

Presenter: Jacob Friis Sherson

The ideal future is characterized by technology operating in a partnership with humans. While we already work closely with technology in virtually every industry, humans still tend to use technology as a tool. However, advances in the ability of artificial intelligence to understand human behavior and psychology is set to disrupt the workforce in mere decades, and if handled correctly, F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 20

could potentially steer humans towards new insights while also fueling the development of algorithms that could combine both the efficiency of technology with the power of human intuition. Human psychology still contains unknowns. In an experiment dealing with connected gears, children were asked to figure out which direction the last gear in a connected series would turn if the first one was turned clockwise. While most children initially used their finger to trace the path, many quickly discovered a simple algorithm: the direction of the last gear could be determined by whether or not there were an even or odd amount of gears. Once they discovered this algorithm, their bodies gave a physiological response to their generating of a new idea—which points to a connectedness between physiology and psychology that has yet to be understood. Human intuition is our greatest strength. In a game created by Sherson and his team that was designed to study human psychology and behavior


“Understanding the conditions in which we make decisions based on intuition will be the key to understanding our role in the future where we have human and artificial intelligence interacting much more strongly.” – Jacob Friis Sherson

in comparison to the behavior of algorithms, Sherson found that when tasked with challenges involving quantum mechanics, humans tackled the landscape of the game much differently than algorithms. In fact, the thousand-dimensional landscape was created in such a way that rendered it extremely difficult for algorithms to efficiently search for any correct solutions, yet human players were able to use something akin to intuition to pinpoint a small region where most of the good solutions could be found almost instantly. Therefore, the game was able to reveal how human players could be used to precondition the large search space into something much smaller and more navigable, unlike algorithms.

with technology to create new forms of hybrid intelligence. The ScienceAtHome social science supercollider can be used to study hybrid intelligence.

Games can create a path towards understanding what hybrid intelligence means.

ScienceAtHome, which is an infrastructure social scientists can use to create large-scale investigations across different platforms to generate new kinds of data, has gamified several experiments in an effort to gather the cognitive profile of millions of people and create benchmarks of normality. In addition to studying different aspects of human psychology—such as the detection of mental diseases and how to best form teams effectively—the supercollider also aims to create empirical knowledge on topics that many studies have not covered before, such as macro economic policies.

By posing high-dimensional and complex natural science in the forms of games for thousands of people of different backgrounds to play, insights into individual cognition and collective social interactions in humans can be found, and learning scientists can use this data to determine how humans can best work in partnership

ScienceAtHome reveals insights into human psychology. Quantum Minds, a game created by ScienceActHome to investigate human learning, is a game that asks users to participate in challenges related to quantum mechanics in which they are required to perform certain tasks well three times in a row to pass in an effort

to show how they have mastered a specific task. Through the data gathered, learning scientists are able to split data from those who have succeeded and those who have failed and use both sets of statistics to find patterns that could reveal new insights into the way we discover the path to discovery. ●

ABOUT THE presenter


Jacob Friis Sherson is an established quantum physicist who has set the world record for quantum teleportation. He founded ScienceAtHome to create an online gaming platform that democratizes science by turning scientific problems into engaging games. Now, with the help of gamers around the world, Jacob aspires to create a quantum computer and turn social science inside out with massive multiplayer games.

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HOW TO FIX THE FUTURE Presenter: Andrew Keen


ndrew Keen, author of “How to Fix the Future,” argues that it is our inability as a species to keep up with our accelerating technological environment that is the biggest challenge faced by humans in the modern age. In order to fix the future, therefore, humans will not only need to figure out how to catch up with and control current and emerging technologies, but also refigure what it means to be human in a future characterized by human-like machines that may very well render the human species irrelevant. Technology has already created many issues in the modern world. While undoubtedly beneficial, technology has also spawned the creation of many pressing issues that threaten today’s world. Technology has led to increasing economic inequality. Many of the wealthiest companies— such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook—in the world today are tech companies. Similarly, the nine wealthiest people in Silicon Valley are worth an estimated $1.5 billion, which is more than a majority of F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 22

the world population combined. Therefore, it can be said that economically, culturally and politically, there is increasing inequality between tech and the rest of the world. Technology is undermining our traditional roles in the economy. Reports from several credible economists reveal that 47% of jobs will be eliminated by 2020. Indeed, much of what we do—such as tasks associated with low-skilled jobs like working in fast food restaurants and driving cars, as well as more high-skilled tasks such as medicine, university lecturing and even writing and thinking—are being made essentially unnecessary by emerging technologies. The technological economy promotes surveillance capitalism. In today’s big data economy where individuals have become productized, tech companies have managed to turn a profit on consumer data and online behavior and issues of privacy have consequently become a hot topic. The technological revolution has spurred cultural chaos.


technology was advancing. Therefore, if we spend enough time studying the historical outcomes of the Industrial Revolution, we may be able to generate insights into how to tackle problems of the modern age. Being human in today’s age means shaping our own history. Rather than giving in to the inevitable logic of a singularity where we will have no control over technology or ourselves, it is crucial to fight back with our humanity and remind ourselves that machines can’t do everything—and that it is human agency that will ultimately prevail.

“What it means to be human is showing, demonstrating and articulating human agency. Our ability to be human is to master ourselves—to make our own narratives. –Andrew Keen

Moore’s Law vs. Moore’s Law.

In addition to greatly altering the economy, the particularly disorienting nature of the cultural world has been made even more perplexing, leading to increasing divisiveness and a general undermining of truth on a global scale. The technological revolution is not unique. While many live with the notion that we are experiencing truly unique times, cultural and economic revolutions are not anything new, and the Industrial Revolution boasts many similarities to the current Technological Revolution—which is an insight that could actually prove helpful in solving many of today’s problems. Both the Industrial Revolution and the Technological Revolution created similar issues. The Industrial Revolution, just like today, created instability around the world and led to issues such as economic inequality, a changing of traditional roles and the revitalization of cultural chaos, as well as a general discomfort over the speed at which

While the modern world tends to focus on Gordon Moore’s Law— which argues for an inevitable singularity—it is important to remember Thomas Moore, 16th century English philosopher, and his law that discussed what it means to be human. While both Moore’s Laws are important, a structured refocus on Thomas Moore’s Law is needed to help us rediscover our humanity. We need to be taught about our humanity. While a large focus of today’s education system is to acquire programming and data skills, it is perhaps more important to teach students about the things that make us human—such as having agency, being creative, demonstrating empathy and being able to think apart from computers. There will always be jobs that require humans. While the job landscape is going through an undeniable transformation due to the Technological Revolution, jobs that require human elements such as creativity and empathy will always exist, albeit in different forms. Therefore, it is imperative that we profoundly rethink education in order to emphasize the humanities and help students gain a better understanding of history and how it can inform us about the present, the future and ourselves. ●


ABOUT THE presenter Andrew Keen is one of the world’s best known and controversial commentators on the digital revolution. He is the author of three books: Cult of the Amateur, Digital Vertigo and his current international hit The Internet Is Not The Answer which the London Sunday Times acclaimed as a “powerful, frightening read” and the Washington Post called “an enormously useful primer for those of us concerned that online life isn’t as shiny as our digital avatars would like us to believe”. He is executive director of the Silicon Valley innovation salonFutureCast and a much acclaimed public speaker around the world. In 2015, he was named by GQ magazine in their list of the “100 Most Connected Men”.

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hile there are several forms of technology set to transform the world, there are none quite so inevitable as robotics. In the past five years alone, many robotics-focused companies have gone from zero funding to a net worth of millions of dollars, and the industry continues to accelerate at a staggering pace. In fact, mega investment funds such as the Softbank Vision Fund, which has an estimated $250 billion committed to investing in robotics and artificial intelligence, are set to fuel the growth of robotics dramatically in upcoming years— and unsurprisingly, many robotics companies are already disrupting industries around the world today. Automation will make our jobs easier and our lives better. Contrary to popular belief, robots are not taking jobs that people currently have Instead, many robots are beginning to be deployed in order to fill unwanted jobs that are too dangerous, monotonous or low-paying for human workers, such as those in the fields of transportation, mining, outdoor agriculture and construction—all industries in which robots have already F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 24

been at work for decades. In agriculture, for example, issues with an aging work population and a need for increased food production can be solved using robotics, which can deliver precision agriculture at a much more efficient rate and encourage higher local production. Disney’s Big Hero 6 is a case study in the power of robots. Based upon up-and-coming robotic technologies, Disney’s animated movie Big Hero 6 has been able to reveal exciting new forms of robotics—such as soft and inflatable robotics—to the general public. For example, Baymax’s inflatable form can also be found in real-world disaster recovery robots that have the ability to slide into small crevices in collapsed buildings and provide support by inflating their strong exoskeleton in order to help people escape from disaster situations. Similarly, SRI International is in the process of creating microbots capable of operating on curved surfaces and zero gravity, and more importantly, when put together, also capable of building extremely strong carbon rod structures—much like the technology found in Big Hero 6. Robots are making the economy more effective.



“The ideal rollout for robots is to follow the things that people don’t do [but] that we need to have happen.” –Andra Keay

In terms of e-commerce, new forms of robotics pose promising avenues. Mothership Aeronautics, for example, recently developed a solar-powered blimp that can generate enough power to fly forever—a technology that could potentially create supermarkets in the sky for large retailers. Similarly, company Kindred.AI is currently working on teaching more complex physical maneuvers to delivery robots in order to allow them to more effectively manipulate items of different shapes and sizes—an exercise that could eventually spawn the creation of successful household robots. ●

ABOUT THE presenter Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon ValleyRobotics, non-profit industry group supportinginnovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra is also founder of the Robot Launchglobal startup competition and a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.


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e live in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment where change is not only persistent, but also accelerating. In fact, it is this constant rate of change that has caused the majority of traditional work infrastructures to begin losing their rigidity, leading to an increasingly unpredictable job landscape. In order to survive in this landscape, therefore, it is vital for both organizations and people to remain flexible and agile, as well as possess the ability to constantly reinvent themselves in an effort to successfully navigate the job landscape. People need to be flexible. Studies estimate that by 2025, 6 out of 10 jobs will be jobs that do not yet exist in today’s world. Therefore, it is imperative for people to become agile and develop a variety of skills to navigate the unknown future of occupations. Everyone will need learning agility to survive the unpredictable job landscape. With automation set to take over many low-skilled tasks, it is important that everyone—especially those in lowskilled fields—focus on learning how F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 26

to learn and relearn. Therefore, it is crucial that educational programs be put into place to help those with little training learn the skills necessary to acquiring higher-skilled jobs. People will need to focus on their core skills to remain agile. In addition to gaining new skills associated with technology and data, people will also need to continue focusing on core skills such as memory, focus and movement. With current trends such as instant access to information via mobile devices de-incentivizing these sorts of skills, however, many are in danger of having these core assets erode. Organizations need to be flexible. While it is important for people to become flexible to better fit into organizations, it is equally important for organizations to gain flexibility in order to remain relevant in the tumultuous economy of both today and tomorrow. Organizations are already changing and transforming. The gig economy, which is an emerging economy based on temporary and short-term gigs in lieu of lifelong career paths, is becoming the new norm throughout the world. Estimated to be worth over $2.5 trillion



“Human beings are fundamentally more creative; we make decisions; we have judgments. AI and robots are always going to be helping us to do stuff, but they are not going to be deciding what we need.” – Shanthi Flynn by 2025, organizations are being strained to allow for a more ambiguous and constantly changing workforce—and freelancers are becoming fundamentally disadvantaged through the loss of benefits and social contributions often gained when working in long-term employment avenues. The technology platform will be essential for any global business. In order to become successful globally, organizations need to create technology platforms in partnership with tech companies—such as Microsoft or Google—that can be used for a variety of tasks and allow the company to become more agile in the technology-driven world. The boundaries of companies need to become more flexible. Even today, many companies have huge amounts of their workforce outsourced to other companies in order to make up for deficits in their talent pool. As the future of work becomes more ambiguous, it is likely that practices such as outsourcing will have to become more common in order to help companies remain flexible. ●

ABOUT THE presenter Shanthi Flynn joined the Adecco Group as Chief Human Resources Officer in March 2016. Shanthi Flynn is currently a member of the WEF Global Future Council on Economic Growth and Social Inclusion and is former Chair HR Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.


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ith our perception of robots drastically changing from a fear of artificial intelligence in the 1950’s to the acceptance of robots as friendly helpers in the 1970’s to today’s view of robots acting in both positive and negative roles, our perception of robots—and Industry 4.0 by extension—has come a long way. Volker Stephan of ABB, a robotics company, details how in the past year alone, ABB was able to sell more robots in the first half of the year than the year before—and more in the first quarter than three years before. With demand for robots increasing dramatically, automation and other technologies are radically impacting all industries, and an important question is raised: how will these robots impact not only organizations, but people and society as a whole? Artificial Intelligence and robots will change jobs. From the transformation of whitecollar jobs to the reshaping of other work, AI and robotics will inevitably change the way jobs will be worked—and this change will continue to accelerate over time. F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 28

Artificial intelligence will transform white-collar management. While robotics is already altering the landscape of low-skilled jobs, AI is also set to transform the role of managers and white-collar workers in organizations. Currently, AI can be used as a decision helper by assisting employees with analytics and providing relevant information to ensure more educated decisions are made, and soon their transformation into decision recommenders and eventually prime decision makers will take away many of the key roles of white-collar managers, leaving organizations to reconfigure the role of how human employees will best be able to operate within their company. White-collar employees need to begin working on flexibility and lifelong learning now. Luckily, while robotics and artificial intelligence do have the ability to operate well in structured, predefined areas, it will be a long time until they are able to take over more complex tasks. In the meantime, it is important for all workers to learn how to be more agile as the job


landscape continues to change and constant occupational shifts become the norm—and in order to accomplish this, therefore, it is imperative that the education system itself be made more agile and interdisciplinary in an effort to prepare future talent for this ambiguous job landscape.

“In the end, I truly believe that collaboration between machine and humans is a solution for the foreseeable future.” – Volker Stephan

Digitalization will impact all aspects of the job landscape.

towards focus on disruption and radical innovation and the transformation of of predictability and structure into the need for ambiguity, tolerance and resistance, digitalization will force people to move away from learning how to do and instead force them to learn how to learn.

Digitalization will impact work itself. As digitalization continues to evolve, the notion of work itself will also change, leading to a necessary redefinition of the employer-employee relationship. The digitalization of work will also change human-led, manual work into automated and machine-led collaborative tasks, as well as shift the need for physical locationbased work to more virtual and task-based work. Digitalization will impact the workforce. From the transformation of managing skills into managing partnerships, shift in focus on improvement and optimization

Digitalization will impact organization and culture. While the world is currently experiencing a dichotomy between centralization and decentralization, digitalization will enable future organizations to focus on a more balanced and hybrid approach to work. Similarly, organizations will no longer have to choose between innovation and speed as digitalization will enable both to work simultaneously. ●

Digitalization will impact the workplace. In the future, rather than people going to where the work is, work will instead go to where the talent is; similarly, limited connectivity and on-premise work will be transformed into a constant digital connection to work, and teams will become more global and technology intensive rather than localized like many companies are today.


ABOUT THE presenter Volker Stephan has served in the role of Head of Human Resources for ABB Europe as well as HR Manager for Switzerland and Group Head for Labor Relations since January of 2015. Volker is currently based in Baden, Switzerland and earned a degree in Business Administration from the BA Mannheim, Germany.

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hile we often acknowledge that the past has the ability to influence the future, the opposite holds true as well, with both the past and future affecting each other through a continuum. It is these sorts of continuums that Carissa Carter, director of teaching and learning at Stanford University, argues can be found throughout our world—such as the continuum between political parties, school and work, and even social issues such as the percentage of male CEOs to female CEOs. In an effort to study the effects of these continua, Stanford’s D School was created to take students from all seven colleges at Stanford and put them to work solving real-world problems in teams where experiential learning was emphasized in lieu of case studies and lectures. Indeed, it is through this highly applied real-world work that students are best able to experience themselves the effects of the political, social, and economic continuums that influence us all, and learn how to dismantle many of the oppressive schemes that hold back organizations today. F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 30

There are several continua that affect the social, political and economic fabrics of our society. School


While we traditionally expect people to follow a straightforward path from school to work, it is more effective for people to loop back and forth between the two in order to continue learning new skills and insights that can then continuously be applied to their work. Therefore, it is in an organization’s best interest to enable the practice of lifelong education in their employees. Education System: Structured Ambiguous. Right now, the US education system is more structured than it has ever been with a clear pipeline from K-12 to higher education. Conversely, the world we experience after higher education is extremely ambiguous—and it is this sharp dichotomy that often leads to the failure of many graduates to tackle the world of work successfully. In order to deal with the unpredictable nature of work after school, it is crucial for this ambiguity to be put into school life by providing students with opportunities


to experience different work settings before they graduate. What you have proven you can do What you have the potential to do. In today’s higher education system, a student’s success is determined by the state of their transcripts, which often only documents what they have accomplished during school. However, a skill print model where both accomplishments and potentials are shown—such as one that showcases not only what classes a student has taken, but also future desires, interests and goals—may be more effective to not only show where a student has been, but also where they have the potential to go. 94.6%


This continuum demonstrates the percentage of male to female CEOs in SMP 500 companies, and also shows how crucial it is for organizations to be combating the large gender gap found throughout industries. Bias


Factors such as where we grew

up, our culture and our current context leads to certain biases, but it is important to both use this bias and dismantle it by experiencing new environments and cultures in order to increase our intuition. Ornithologist (science) Musician (liberal arts).

“I do believe that innovation happens when the edges of disciplines tickle each other and you figure out what you can create together.” –Carissa Carter

Perhaps one of the most important continua in today’s landscape, the continuum that characterizes interdisciplinary learning has the ability to fuel groundbreaking creativity and innovation within teams and organizations. Place continua. From private to open, inclusive to exclusive, focused to generative, owned to maintained and precious to non-precious, the space we operate our organizations in can drastically alter how employees work. While a private, exclusive and non-precious space can be used to help individuals work on private projects, for example, open, inclusive and generative spaces can be used to inspire teams to work together in more creative ways. ●


ABOUT THE presenter Carissa Carter is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Stanford d.school. In this role she guides the development of the d.school’s pedagogy, leads its instructors, and shapes its class offering. Prior to the d.school, Carissa ran her own design practice, Parallel Design Labs, and spent time living in Hong Kong working for Herman Miller. Carissa is a graduate of Williams College, and has graduate degrees in Earth Science from UC Santa Cruz and in Product Design from Stanford University.

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hile almost all organizations desire to de-bias their practices and expand their talent pool, frameworks that reinforce long-held biases often subconsciously influence the job landscape as a whole. As Iris Bohnet of Harvard Kennedy School demonstrates, much like the popular checkerboard illusion where two squares that appear to be different colors due to the lighting of surrounding squares are actually the same color, our often misconceived notions about certain stereotypes— such as our views on women in the workforce—are influenced by the framework that surrounds us, and in order to see past the illusion of bias, organizations need to first dismantle the structures that hold these biases in place.

The Heidi Roisin Experiment is an example of how biases within an organization can be revealed.

Behavioral design can de-bias organizations.

U.S. orchestras reveal one example of how an organization can de-bias their framework.

Rather than focusing on the nearimpossible task of de-biasing the individual minds of employees, organizations need to first focus on using behavioral design to restructure frameworks within their companies in order to de-bias their systems, practices and procedures at all levels. F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 8 32

In a classic experiment where professors switched the name of a successful venture capitalist from Heidi to Howard in a case study they gave half of their students—with the other half reading the case study in its original form— they found that while all students agreed that Heidi/Howard performed well, fewer students agreed to the question of whether or not they would hire Heidi, despite the fact all other factors remained the same except the name change. This ultimately revealed not only the internal stereotypes many of the students had in regards to what a venture capitalist “should” look like, but also stereotypes about how a woman should be.

In the 1970’s, major orchestras throughout the US made a move away from being able to see players auditioning by introducing a curtain behind which they would audition instead—a design choice that was able to remove any biases a director


“We design and contribute to our environment. Wherever you are, try to create a ‘clean beach’ a place free of litter, where people do not feel entitled to drop trash, dirty jokes, and micro aggressions.” –Iris Bohnet

may have towards the player and allow them to focus solely on the music. Since then, the amount of women in major symphony orchestras in the U.S. has increased from 5% in the 1970’s to over 40% today. Changing the language in a job ad can impact whether more men or women will apply for the job. Letters of recommendation are often written in a gendered fashion and can impact the likelihood of a job candidate being hired. Luckily, there are algorithms being created today that have the ability to de-bias letters of recommendation and job ads, allowing for more bias-free selection of candidates. The SAT restructured its test in order to alleviate bias against females. With several studies pointing to gender differences in willingness to take risks, the SAT recently reformatted their test to take away penalties for wrong guessing, an action that allows many women—who are more likely to be averse to risk—to feel comfortable answering all questions. There are several things organizations need to do to de-bias their companies.

While many organizations have focused on things such as diversity training, mentoring and leadership opportunities to de-bias their framework, very little measurements have been put into place to actually measure whether or not these initiatives are effective. The few measurements that have been taken, however, reveal that most of these programs remain wholly ineffective, and therefore a different mindset needs to be adopted by companies.

enough initial support due to their background, nationality or other similar factors. Similarly, it is important for companies to focus on performance and define potential, and it is equally essential for candidates to not share self-evaluations with managers. ●

The way your organization evaluates job candidates needs to change. Practices such as unstructured interviews and panel interviews tend to actually reinforce company biases, even if the panel is made up of diverse members. In order to more objectively evaluate job candidates, therefore, companies need to focus on structured interviews that ask the same questions to all candidates. The way your organization promotes people needs to change. It is crucial that when promoting employees, organizations provide adequate support to promotional candidates that may not receive


ABOUT THE presenter Iris Bohnet, the Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy, is a behavioral economist at Harvard Kennedy School. She is the author of the award-winning book What Works: Gender Equality by Design. Professor Bohnet served as the academic dean of the Kennedy School, is the director of its research center, the Women and Public Policy Program, co-chair of the Behavioral Insights Group, an associate director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, and the faculty chair of the executive program “Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century” for the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders.

Ranked among the top ten universities in the world, this Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland is where the future begins! www.ethz.ch/en

“A good university not only imparts knowledge, it also teaches people to think.” Lino Guzzella, President – ETH Zurich

THE STORCHEN ISN‘T JUST IN ZURICH, IT IS ZURICH The Storchen experience extends far beyond the hotel‘s wall and fully embraces the spirit of Zurich, one of the cities consistently ranked as offering the best quality of life in the world. You are invited to enjoy the Storchen and appreciate an authentic taste of the much-celebrated Zurich lifestyle. For early birds or night owls, a quick drink or a long, leisurely lunch: no matter what you‘re looking for, we offer the full gamut of gourmet experiences – all presented with a hearty portion of passion, creativity and flair. www.storchen.ch