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AI is a tool, not colleague...plus four other key people issues from Davos

The annual gathering of global leaders in the Swiss Mountains is a chance to discover what is really on the minds of the world’s leading business chiefs

Some 2,500 movers and shakers from the worlds of business, politics and finance meet each year at the annual World Economic Forum talking-shop, Davos (named after the Swiss ski resort in which it takes place). The 48th conference, which took place between 23-26 January 2018, was entitled Visions for a Shared Future, so was there any consensus on what those visions were?

Amy Bernstein, editor at Harvard Business Review, shared her thoughts on the key takeaways at an event on 1 February to launch HBR’s 10 Must Reads of 2018. Here ThePeopleSpace picks the five issues most likely to impact people leaders:

1. Artificial intelligence is a tool, not a colleague

Calm down. That was the key message from the great and good at Davos. Artificial intelligence (AI) is not going to take all our jobs. We need to start thinking of it as a tool, not a colleague. It will free us up to do higher quality work. So, business, stop walking into the brave new AI world with your shield up

2. Blockchain – it will change everything

But not as quickly as we all think. Real benefits will take years to come through. It needs better technology, regulation and, most importantly, more widespread adoption. But that’s not to say you should ignore it. Now is the time to start experimenting

3. We are all in ecosystems now

According to Bernstein, the word she heard most often at this year’s Davos was partnership. Organisations are looking outside their own walls to tap into interesting new thinking in the name of innovation. It’s challenging perceived wisdom about the nature of work models and working environments

4. CEOs: the world’s new activists

What’s the role of the corporation today? With political populism on the rise and big corporations the ‘enemy of the people’, CEOs are increasingly moving out of their ivory towers and taking a public stance on divisive social issues. Whether it’s from personal beliefs, frustration at governmental paralysis or pressure from stakeholders, chief executives are now publicly proclaiming on issues as diverse as transgender rights and immigration to police shootings, through social media or via using their economic might to influence government bodies

5. Yup, talent management is still an issue

It’s been among the top issues in countless global surveys for many years now, but talent management concerns have not gone away. If anything, it has risen even higher up the agenda as our changing world dictates that workplaces need a more agile, pivot workforce. The old ways of supplying and managing talent are no longer fit for purpose. It’s a case of out with the old, but where is the new?

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