Developing an Organization in a Virtual World

December 18, 2020

A comprehensive meeting summary, along with all slides and presentations is available to EN Chief Talent Officer 250 members only. Don’t forget to fill out the form at the end to learn more.

Developing an Organization in a Virtual World

Our 2020 Autumn COT250 Virtual Network Meeting brought together 18 Talent Executives from companies including American Express, AXA Group, Bayer, BP, Comcast, Dow Inc., Eni, General Electric Company, Gilead Sciences Inc., IBM Corporation, ING, Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited, Johnson & Johnson, MetLife, Microsoft, Novartis, Swiss Re Ltd, and UnitedHealth Group.

Stretch Thinking Session: Adapting to a New World Blair Sheppard, Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership at PwC

Today, HR leaders are asked to lead in a world that is unlike anything we have ever experienced. We are facing increasingly urgent challenges that are affecting individuals, organizations, governments and society alike: disparities of wealth have never been more significant, dividing communities and impacting continents.

The current world demands us to simultaneously repair and rethink.  The speed at with which we must bring the future into current reality is faster than ever.  In 2015, Blair’s research found that the same worries are felt and expressed all over the world at the same level. The COVID-19 global pandemic has made these common ties even stronger.

Blair structured a way to think about these worries using the acronym ADAPT:

  • A: Asymmetry – disparities in opportunity will grow
  • D: Disruption – continuous change in the relationship between people and technology
  • A: Age – Significant shift in needs and consumption pattern
  • P: Polarization – People’s local concerns become more acute and crowd out other issues
  • T: Trust – Devaluing of institutions and corrosive effects of corruption

Furthermore, the four crises which have been amplified by the global pandemic are:

  1. The crisis of prosperity
  2. The crisis of technology
  3. The crisis of institutional legitimacy
  4. The crisis of leadership

Finally, Blair highlighted the implication of our ever-changing world for the HR function.  One key takeaways that is essential to transforming organizations is that we need to transform how we think about people, the nature of work and careers, and the linkage between people and technology

HR is central to the strategic function of any organization, and HR leaders are more essential than ever before.  HR strategy must focus on people strategy to be able to communicate to other leaders why HR initiatives are important, and how they can help the company succeed.

Member Share and Crowd Sourcing
Allison Joyce, Comcast: “Gig” at Comcast

Much of the meeting was dedicated to member conversations, questions, and best practices.  Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Career agility has not only brought value to employees, but also to the organization by aligning the talent marketplace to business
  • The internal marketplace not only allows for agility, but also accelerates employability by creating a decentralized organization with no single skills taxonomy
  • Talent mobility drives purpose, modernization, and engagement within their culture and strategies, and helps to define the next generation of leaders
  • COVID-19 has emphasized the need for organizations to focus on employee well-being and resilience
  • there is a sweet spot between too little and too much stress where the best work gets done. To find this on an individual level, there needs to be a pattern of oscillation: a sprint followed by a recovery. When employees lack the latter, that is when burnout occurs
  • Focusing on employee well-being and resilience leads to higher rates of retention, satisfaction, and purpose in an organization

Peer2Peer Solutions

The Peer2Peer session of the meeting gave members the chance to share and offer advice on current challenges and pressing issues they are facing in their organizations. Identified priorities are reflected in the word cloud below.

Here are some of the key takeaways:


  • HR leaders are transforming performance modules to leverage business transformation and how managers reflect on their efforts
  • Convincing leaders in non-HR departments that the internal marketplace is beneficial to business has been a challenge
  • It is critical to upskill HR services to allow people to have a voice and encourage tough conversations
  • COVID-19 has had a great effect on mental health. There is an increased focus on wellbeing. Organizations are thinking about different approaches on how to regenerate energy without overwhelming their employees
  • Organizations are facing the challenge of meeting expectations and deliverables with a smaller HR budget.
  • Leaders need to be able to make decisions quickly while still focusing on purpose, inclusion, and reflection
  • Some organizations are shifting away from the traditional performance reviews to a teams-based performance model to encourage individual and company purpose
  • HR initiatives and stakeholder needs are not at odds; rather, they fuel innovation that is attractive to the shareholder – investing in a better future for the world is very appealing to those who are invested in you

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