In January, we introduced our 2023 Strategic Agenda based on in-depth conversations with top CSOs in our Outthinker Strategy Network. We will be expanding on one of these trends every week with the intention of supporting your organization’s strategy for the next year and beyond. This is our eighth installment.

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The race to become the leader in artificial intelligence (AI) is on. In the past two weeks, Open AI launched ChatGPT-4, Google released its new chatbot Bard, and Microsoft revealed its 365 Copilot. Each of these technologies claims it offers a new way to work, bringing up as many promises to productivity as fears of job threats. The shiny object syndrome of the moment is blindingly bright, and it’s near impossible not to get swept up in the excitement and possibilities for what the new world of work will look like.

To help separate the signals from the noise, our team at Outthinker spoke to two experts—futurist Erica Orange, EVP and COO of The Future Hunters; and Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CIO of Manpower Group, co-founder of Deeper Signals and Metaprofiling, and Professor of Business Psychology at University College London and Columbia University. They helped to condense all the talk swirling around AI into what it means for the future of work and how your organization can leverage AI tools right now.

Hire and train for soft skills

What does it mean to be a smart leader in an age where machines are becoming smarter than us? As more hard skills are taken over by machines, both Orange and Chamorro-Premuzic agree that the most human and softer skills will thrive in the short-term future.

Customers and employees alike are looking for organizations that demonstrate honesty, fairness, authenticity, and transparency. Orange recommends that you seek to develop and hire for five specific competency areas that she has formulated into a helpful acronym – PLANT:

  • Passion and purpose
  • Literacy
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Nimbleness
  • Trust

Use AI to identify talent early on

Chamorro-Premuzic agreed that machines will not be able to substitute for soft skills in the near-term. As machines advance, the soft skills mentioned above will become even more important than technical expertise.

His work shows that a key success factor for organizations is the ability to identify talent early on. Yet many organizations still rely on instinct and poorly structured interviews to conduct their hiring process. Humans assume that we can infer these traits in an interview, but in reality, machines are better at it than we are.

Identifying talent is an area where AI and data-driven tools can have a serious impact. You should be using traditional psychometric and technology-infused assessments to detect if a candidate has empathy, emotional intelligence, honesty, and compatible values. These are the skills that will ensure talent fits with the current culture and is prepared to evolve with the organization


According to Chamorro-Premuzic, in strategy “…much like in music, what matters at the end is not the score we’re reading from, but the talent and capabilities of the musicians.”

Organizations are awash with data, and analytics and AI have become part of everyday conversation, but if your organization cannot act on the insights generated by analytics and AI, any investment in technology is useless. Begin by leveraging these technologies to identify the right people with the right skillset for the new future of work. Seek out employees and leaders with passion and purpose, literacy, analytical and critical thinking skills, nimbleness, and trust.

Companies that prioritize soft skills and utilize technology to identify talent will be better equipped to adjust and excel in the ever-changing landscape of what work looks like and who performs it.

Photo by cottonbro studio