50 Answers For 50 Questions


David D’Souza at the CIPD posed 50 questions to ponder regarding the future of the world of work in his blog post here. Here’s my 50 answers. I thought about some questions more than others, and some answers are a tad facetious but, you know, there were 50 questions to answer!

1.       What roles can’t be automated?

We don’t know what can’t be automated as it is likely Technology will surpass any current perceived limitations.

2.       What roles shouldn’t be automated?

Those that can’t be done so safely.

3.       Financial markets, left to their own devices, aren’t good at accommodating a greater social purpose – do we need to take more of an interventionist stance to ensure greater societal benefit?


4.       At what point do we stop running out of corporate scandals? How can we get more proactive at asking difficult questions of organisations as employees and consumers?

Our society has an interesting way of not really being shocked at some of the things we describe as shocking to us. There will always be a scandal of some sort, it is just that the things that are acceptable to us now, might not be acceptable to us in the future.

5.       Does an organisation with a social purpose have an advantage or a limitation?

Both. Its ability to positively influence society (or prevent negative influences on society) has the advantage of having clarity of purpose. Yet it is limited as the scope for purpose being societal prevents pressure for success from other forms of purpose. I’m not sure I even understand what I just wrote.

6.       What work might be most impacted by changes in international border policy or digitisation making borders redundant?

Those that enforce border control.

7.       Who is accountable for my wellbeing?

You along with those that can affect your wellbeing. It is a basic human virtue to look after one another.

8.       If my employer is responsible for making sure I’m not under undue stress – then am I responsible for managing my diet to ensure I’m delivering peak performance?

Yes. The simply answer is that you/we are each responsible for managing our diet, regardless of how that affects anything else.

9.       Can you automate creativity – and if so will we still only feel something is creative if it is produced by a human?

No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

There’s no science to my answer. I write songs. I can’t be forced at any time to write a song automatically, it has to feel right.

10.   How do we balance the concepts of diversity with the drive for cultural fit?

By making cultural fit as broad and varied as possible.

11.   Is the Gen X,Y,Z & millennial terminology helpful for understanding or lazy stereotyping?

Lazy stereotyping. Next.

12.   What’s the point of work? To get happiness? Make a difference? Recognition? Will the point of work change and how might it do so?

There is no one single point to work but the proportion of each of the reasons is likely to vary in accordance with the society in which the work is carried out. The point of work will change because society changes.

13.   How do we step away from a 9-5 working week construct together?

By more vividly demonstrating to employers that work is more effective outside of the standard 9-5 construct. CIPD need to invest more substantially in a PR campaign to raise the awareness of success stories where 9-5 is not operated and the government should incentivise businesses in some way to move outside of 9-5.

14.   How much longer will income and wage inequality be tolerated by those on the wrong side of the stats?

Probably until those on the wrong side of the stats end up on the right side of the stats.

15.   How many more years of casual sexism in workplaces do we have before that dies a death?

We don’t know the answer to this but we can but hope it is not that many, if any at all.

16.   If whole chunks of your life are viewable on the internet will we become more tolerating of mistakes at work?

I think we already are becoming more tolerant of mistakes at work than we used to.

17.   The image of everyone working on the beach is an attractive one – but what does this mean for introverts or people with mobility issues?

It risks excluding them and creating exclusive ideologies that aren’t shared by all.

18.   Do I own my data or am I just a data point?

Don’t know, pass.

19.   You can already automate ‘congratulations’ messages on Linkedin. How much effort can you remove from a gesture before it becomes meaningless?

The amount of effort it takes to consciously think about wanting to make that gesture or not. It doesn’t matter if I used an automated congratulations button, what matters is whether i thought about it and actually wanted to press that button.

20.   If I can outsource work cheaply to another country is that simply the free market in action (and an easy decision) or should I care more about the wellbeing of people I already employ?

I dont think the options are mutually exclusive. An organisation can use the free market in the way its intended and yet be careful of the wellbeing of those already employed.

21.   If work is to become more transient (the gig economy) then who takes responsibility for long term capability building of people? If I’m only with an organisation for 6 months then why would they invest in me?

Organisations and the employee themselves will still be responsible for the long term capability development. Organisations will still invest in those working in the gig economy, it will remain proportionate to the cost and time of the engagement.

22.   The more we understand about the mind the easier it is to manipulate it. How do we build in ethical safeguards within organisations?

By canvassing the government to legislate ethics. Controversial and difficult, yes, but why not?

23.   How much do we really know about the organisations that curate the world’s information and present it back to you and how much do you need to know?

We don’t know enough and we need to know more.

24.   Is happiness a legitimate business and economic outcome?

Yes, but not in isolation.

25.   What is the best way for groups to create influence and make a difference in a digital age?

By demonstrating success with evidence. Evidence-based success should create influence in any age.

26.   Why do organisational IT solutions still tend to be more expensive yet less useful than consumer solutions?

Because the value of the talent creating the IT solutions pushes up the price of the product.

27.   Does the age of automation mean that a universal basic payment to all is required?

To pay for what?

28.   When we do save time where does it go? For all the automation and efficiency I don’t hear many people saying they have more time to relax

It is spent on other stuff we haven’t been able to spend time on before.

29.   What aspects of our behaviour is it appropriate to legislate for? Is restricting access to company communications after hours unnecessarily interfering or saving us from ourselves?

Dangerous aspects of our behaviour we should continue to legislate for as we do now. For the second part of the question, there is no right or wrong, it will work for some and not for others.

30.   Will you ever want a consoling hug from a robot?

Now you’ve mentioned it, I will.

31.   Why are so many organisations already designed and led as though the workers are robots?

Because we still archaically define people in our organisations as ‘human resources’.

32.   What does not having to leave your home to work, socialise or shop do to fitness levels over time?

In my view it will have a negative impact on mental fitness, but due to the extra time it will allow, it could create for more time for actual physical fitness and thus increase physical fitness levels.

33.   What are the chances the world left by this generation will be better than the one left to us?

Slim – the world left by the previous generation will affect our generation and probably the next one too.

34.   Do children entering school need to read or write – or will those be surplus skills by the team they leave school?

Thats a scary and yet fascinating question. I know thats not an answer, because I don’t know, but the questions going to fester.

35.   What are the issues that we are sleepwalking towards now that we will regret not taking action on sooner? (thanks to Siobhan Sheridan at the NSPCC for this)

The ageing population and healthcare requirements for this generation that our government are criminally ignoring and underfunding.

36.   What are the opportunities that we will regret taking?


37.   How much of our enhanced technical capability will be channeled into solving societal problems and how much into increasing profits?

There will be a greater proportion towards increasing profit than solving societal problems. It should be the other way around, but a capitalist culture means this wont happen.

38.   How do you get a mortgage in the ‘Gig Economy’?

Self-employed people have been able to get a mortgage for many years. It’s difficult but not impossible. This will likely continue to be the case.

39.   Does the Sharing Economy really share – or does it just collect a smaller margin from a larger volume of workers that are dependent? If we called it the Snaring Economy would it be such a popular concept?

I think it does, I think it does, and no it wouldn’t.

40.   When Prof Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others describe AI as a potentially extinction level threat why do people think they are overstating it? When did we start thinking we had a better grasp on big issues than Stephen Hawking?

Not enough people (including me) have seen enough success with AI in mainstream media, as such we don’t believe it is sufficiently possible, let alone be a sufficient threat.

41.   How confident are you really that the Financial Services industry is now running as it should – and what are the knock on risks given the fragility of the world economy?

About as confident as before. I believe regulators have adapted safeguards to deal with the issues in a more transparent matter now which gives me some confidence.

42.   How can we help design roles and organisations that make the most of people?

By understanding people better – through embracing and developing Neuroscience.

43.   What are the implications of the current level of gender imbalance within the tech sector over the next decade?

Why is the tech industry gender imbalance any more problematic than the gender imbalance in any other industry? An uninformed guess would be that technology would be gender bias but that might be a gender-biased answer!

44.   Much of the technology we utilise on a day to day basis would struggle to meet most people’s definition of an ethical supply chain. When do we start making different purchasing decisions?

When more ethical suppliers become more mainstream and legitimate competition.

45.   What are the best sources of information on the changing world of work and how can we ensure the independent voices are heard when organisations with the biggest budgets will be looking to exploit this space?

The best sources of information will belong with those that study the organisations themselves and I believe there is insufficient work done in this area. We can ensure independent voices are heard by ensuring a fair representation of workplaces, regardless of budgets, are reviewed.

46.   People frequently talk about wanting more equality and higher living standards for others – yet how many people would give up, for instance, 25% of their salary in order to improve the living standards of others?

MP’s stated they would take refugees into their homes but didn’t. Sadly, not many would give up 25% of their salary for others.

47.   How will we filter content effectively in the future and how open to abuse is that filtering process?

We’ll use popular tools and we’ll blindly trust that the developers of those tools have done so ethically.

48.   How do the business role models of the future act?

Same as business role models have always act, but influenced by the culture of the time.

49.   People cry when their pets die. What will be the first piece of technology that you cry over the loss of?

My Macbook Pro. Genuinely.

50.   If you had one contribution to make to making things just a little better over the next decade what would it be?  

To teach my son how to be a decent, caring, kind, compassionate, selfless, person.