Celebrating Humans

Having recently heard Dave Coplin speak at a Santander Breakthrough Event, I was eagerly anticipating reading his latest book “The Rise of the Humans” it now seems appropriate to share some of the experience, you might have to imagine the sunshine.

From the title all the way through to the acknowledgements I was hooked. The later for me are always really insightful and a great indicator of just how human the author is. In business do we always truly acknowledge the layers of effort and support involved in achieving the end result but isn’t this acknowledgement what makes us really human?

It’s of course surprising at first glance that the “Chief Envisioning Officer” of Microsoft UK should have a book with this title but from the moment you read his argument in favour of his ability to multi task, listening to his own carefully recorded cut and paste of the Sunday evening chart show whilst studying, you realise that there’s something very human on offer.

As part of a generation, brought up creating our own amateur playlists and now able to access an infinite number of tracks & albums at any time of day and night and even more than that, easily create them into slick and professional playlists which we can play on numerous devices anywhere, there is a danger that we are distracted by the constant “noise” and instant availability of music and similarly data.

The pace of change is rapid and in this eloquent book Coplin encourages us to take time to stop and reflect, to ensure that the change is life enhancing and liberating not engulfing, and that we focus on improved outcomes not on the technology and data itself.

We have an ever-increasing number of connectivity tools at our fingertips but he argues that we must ensure that the most important connectivity, that between trusted humans remains intact.

The dangers in the force of the “digital deluge” are, that we forget our human instincts and skills, and allow the data to take over with a resulting lack of creativity and progress.

The deluge is a distraction, which we both snack and gorge on; we become time poor and stressed and allow the data to control us.

This is an alarming premise but looking more deeply there are answers which lie not in trying to adapt our existing behaviours and processes to the deluge, but recognising its power and adapting our processes to use this power for our own, our customers and our employees purposes.

We need to hone our own selection skills and take time to think, not continually be in receipt of data but we must also understand the context of the data, and know the basis of the selection of the data, which is presented to us.

It is the ability to apply contexts which differentiates the humans, the machines map correlations we understand and process causation.

In the context of customers Coplin describes four dimensions which if we change our processes we can access to ultimately understand the needs and wants of the customer from the first point of contact.

They are the current transaction, the historical context, the customer as a holistic individual and the social customer with the power to recommend and complain.

How many of us focus our “great customer service” on simply the here and now? Even though we have data we can access on all the dimensions?

Similarly its great news for employees particularly the newly heralded Intrapreneurs, with access to more data and more connectivity organisations can implement change more rapidly and be transformational.

Are employers willing to break down the traditional hierarchical structures and allow employees to apply the skills and knowledge, which they can more quickly and easily obtain?

There are of course in addition many moral debates to be had not least around the protection of privacy and artificial intelligence but reading this book it feels as though there is still a huge place in the world for human input and understanding.

This is just a snapshot of the book, it’s a selection of the ideas with my own train of thought from this selection, but hopefully it will be sufficient to entice you to read the book, don’t wait for the next sunny Sunday afternoon, “the rise of the humans” needs to be embraced and fostered by all of us right now.

Keeley Molloy