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Technological integration into work and life focus of Disrupt Madison conference

More so than in previous years, digital transformation will be explored at this year’s event focused on the future of work.

Michael Hahn, of Hero Habits, during the Disrupt Madison 3.0 event in 2018.

Michael Hahn, of Hero Habits, during the Disrupt Madison 3.0 event in 2018.

Disrupt Madison

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When Disrupt Madison started four years ago, the idea of a next-generation approach to HR was still a novel one, at least locally. Now, the way businesses look at the future of work — not just human resources — has grown, and with it so has the Disrupt program, which licenses its format from the national Disrupt HR movement.

Disrupt Madison 4.0, which will take place Wednesday, June 5, at the Sylvee, is taking a page from Disrupt Milwaukee 2.0 this past fall and incorporating an overarching theme for the first time. Focused on “Being Human Centric in the Era of Digital Transformation,” Disrupt Madison 4.0 is taking its usual topics on the world of work and considering how technology is changing everything about the way we do business.

Disrupt Madison 4.0 is a night of quick-hit talks from experts and professionals from diverse educational and functional backgrounds, notes Coreyne Woodman-Holoubek, president of Disrupt Madison. Each speaker has 5 minutes and 20 slides rotating at 15 seconds each to present their unique perspective on the world of work, future of work, emerging HR technology, and digital transformation. Scheduled topics include: empathy in the workplace, artificial intelligence, employee experience, people analytics, automation, blockchain, and more.

Woodman-Holoubek says she made the changes to this year’s program because with the rapid pace at which technology is changing, the jobs people are doing today will not be the same ones they’ll be doing in a few years.

“Our workplace and HR leaders are currently grappling with the fact that we may not be prepared for the changes coming down the pipeline,” notes Woodman-Holoubek. “We may not be able to ‘train’ skill sets for the future, as tech keeps moving us faster and faster. If we are going to move forward, these topics need to come to the forefront of discussions in our workplaces and we need to be ahead of the curve.”

Hinckley Productions has handled video production and live streaming for Disrupt Madison since the event began in 2016.

To accomplish that, Woodman-Holoubek believes the rapid-fire Disrupt format is ideal for practicing a mindset of experiential learning, social learning, and a lifestyle of disruption and adaptability.

“It sounds cliché to say we really do not have the time to sit in an hour-long presentation to learn about a topic today,” posits Woodman-Holoubek, “but it’s more about how our brain takes in information. We’ve all heard the analogy about how human attention spans are becoming shorter than that of a goldfish. The status quo for learning is to quiet our minds, to better listen and take in information. I argue it should be the opposite.

“As humans, we are meant to hear things that spark our interest, and our brain naturally makes connections that help our learning,” continued Woodman-Holoubek. “We’re wired to reflect on our thoughts verbally and hear what others have to say, too. This is why social learning is becoming really popular and events like hackathons and design sprints are popping up — not just as a way to do work, but also to learn from others in an exponential form. Plus, with the pace at which technology changes, in an hour-long lecture what the presenter started saying in the beginning could be digitally irrelevant by the time the lecture finishes.”

Transformational technology

The slate of speakers already secured for Disrupt Madison 4.0 offers a diverse look at the scope of technology’s influence on the way we work.

Quentin Allums, CEO of Urban Misfit Ventures, will discuss digital storytelling, from the benefits of creating content online as a professional to how creating will shape the person that you become offline.

Angela Nino, an improv comedian and entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Empathetic Workplace, will speak on workplace empathy. With more and more leaders recognizing the importance of understanding employee EQ, Nino notes empathy is so much more than telling someone, “I understand how you feel.” She believes a company culture is tested when someone messes up, and the way we handle the difficult conversations that follow could be the difference in whether or not someone comes back.

Looking at the sharing economy and workplace transportation, Bill Reilly, entrepreneur and founder of Impulse Car Share, will discuss the potential for creating an employee benefit or amenity that makes cars available for a company’s employees to use if needed. This would allow employees to make transportation decisions that cut personal expenses, while also creating opportunities for organizational cost savings. Additionally, a novel benefit like this could break down the transportation barrier for lower income workers.

Amanda Daering, a recruiter and CEO of newance, is planning to talk about the employee experience, and more specifically how the evolving digital future holds a tremendous opportunity for talent teams to provide much needed human connection. With automation taking over many day-to-day “to-dos,” talent teams can use technology to enhance experience with updated distribution of information, real-time feedback, and more time to spend “human to human.” Daering will look at how we can move from glossy websites to creating magnetic, people-based experiences, which can be a company’s real employer brand and the future of their talent pipeline.

Considering the relationship between AI, human ethics, and open-source software will be Alec Shaw, co-founder of blockchain consulting firm Euphrates and manager at the Marquette Blockchain Lab. AI will soon be able to understand context and create original thought, an idea of artificial super intelligence that inspires many but terrifies even more. Shaw notes to ensure the future is one where AI super-intelligence works FOR humanity instead of AGAINST humanity, a few key attributes must be enforced. These key attributes can be accomplished through utilizing open-source ecosystems instead of centralized powerhouses like Alphabet or Facebook.

Takeyla Benton, creator of We Write Too, a nonprofit writing and coaching support system for women and minority writers, will talk about meaningful mentoring in the digital era by using social media to connect with mentees to reach them where they are, and build connections that allow opportunities to advise and continue mentoring beyond the timeframe of volunteer activity.


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