How to Foster Human Capacity in a Tech Driven Economy

The idea of managing human capacity is fundamental to how firms move forward with their organization strategy. However, this is actually part of a bigger issue:

Organizational sustainability.

What a sustainable philosophy requires is the open recognition of a changing workforce, and the understanding that even the ability to manage human capacity needs to be supplemented with an open mind and forward thinking.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), computerization, and automation, devalue certain human skills, and in time will completely overhaul the job market. At this point it will be our uniquely human potential that is valued in workplace.

Working with human strengths and deficiencies in order to get the best out of your company is going to be a defining aspect of keeping up with the pace of innovation and change in the next few decades.

So what are these skills?

The skills that make us uniquely human and the skills that will be required in the coming decades are not purely analytic and technical.

For the last century the corporate world has been run on Darwinian ideas, competition and scarcity have been cornerstones of the dominant mindset. But with our economy we can’t rest on the same laurels. Our world is more social, more connected and far more complex than ever before – the framework by which we will thrive is vastly different.

The degree to which technology can replace humanity in the workforce is really unknown.

Some, such as futurist Ray Kurzweil, believe that the point at which artificial intelligence overtakes (and possible merges with) human intelligence – also known as the singularity – will occur as soon as 2045. At this point Kurzweil theorizes that growth will be exponential as AI itself creates more advanced AI.

Others believe it may never occur.

Regardless of your stance, there is still a wide spectrum of possibilities in between ‘the singularity’ and our current relationship to technology.

What we can defer is that there are certain human skills which will continue be valued in the workplace, most notably

Social Intelligence and Influence

Group of business people and men handshake reflected onto table

Social intelligence encompasses a fluid and dynamic set of skills that include communication, knowledge of social roles and scripts, effective listening, and nuanced social adaption.

The socially intelligent worker is able to use these skills to create and foster the most importance resource in business: high value relationships.

As management consultant Margaret Wheatley notes:

“In organizations real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions.”

At this point only a human being has the capacity to elicit deep and lasting emotional reactions in another human being. Socially intelligent leaders and managers in particular will always be of value as the majority of people have an urge to be lead, and will always be more trusting of a human than a program.

Also, in the near future it will be necessary to have a rich cultural understanding of those we work with as our business models become increasingly international. Unfortunately AI is yet to be able to adequately account for these sensitivities.

Nuanced and Adaptive Thinking

Though computers are very strong when it comes to pre-programmed actions, they still lack the ability to integrate ideas from a wider variety of knowledge and look at things from multiple perspectives.

Adaptive Thinking is the ability to adjust reasoning and problem solving strategies based on a changing problem as it develops. It requires that you think about relationships between ideas and situations, so you can draw non-linear conclusions.

Another nuanced way of thinking that AI cannot yet grasp is the idea of paradoxical thinking. This is when two concepts – such as words or traits – appear contradictory, but can still be integrated to be compatible.

Paradoxical thinking is a large part of the human condition and operating in a world driven by human values, but the binary nature of computation makes this very difficult for AI to understand.


Creativity is the use of innovative or original ideas in the creation of tangible ideas or works. In business context creativity is the essence of lateral thinking, an approach to problem solving similar to adaptive thinking, by which you use an indirect method of reasoning that does not immediately appear to follow traditional step by step logic.

One valuable instance is when we are able to cross ideas from a wealth of disciplines to create something new. Leonardo Da Vinci is an example of someone who mastered multiple fields and drew from his knowledge of painting, engineering, architecture, and sculptor to create new ideas and predict the future.

Emotional Intelligence and Intuition

Emotional intelligence, whilst often overlapping with social intelligence, is the ability to be aware of and control the expression of, one’s own emotions. One key function of this is the capacity to empathize in social relationships. On a deep level this is important in the application of ethics in business.

Intuition is not a supernatural occurrence; it is simply a level of thought, an innate intelligence that moves so quickly and subtly that we are unable to articulate its workings. It is the ability to reflect back instant, what might be considered pre-cognitively, on our actions and decision making with human-centric principles in mind.

Communicating Meaning and Purpose

Robots can’t relate to an inherent sense of meaning in the same way humans can. We are incredibly adept at determining the trustworthiness of a source, and we will quickly acknowledge when an AI is not emotional truly appreciate of a wider meaning.

A human leader, on the other hand, who is able to engage the spiritual energy of others through their communication, will have a far better chance of organization and utilizing human potential.

This fluid economy will offer employees new ways of working, and if their needs are unmet, or if they feel burned out, they will more easily than ever look to move to another job in which they don’t.

What all of these skills have in common is that they require a unique look at our internal experience. Critical reflection and mindfulness go hand in hand with bringing the best out of our employees as both we recognize the subtleties of energy.

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