March 2, 2020
Future of Work Hero: Adrian Chang
By Lauren Udwari, Senior Content Manager, Corporate Communications
The Future of Work Hero series is a Q&A with enterprise work management pioneers setting the pace of technology, workforce, and workplace transformation—and revolutionizing how work gets done.
The only thing that rivals the volume of innovation coming out of the tech industry is its slew of buzzwords: Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), digital transformation, etc. Google “future of work” and you’ll find these exact terms in your search results.
But “future of work” isn’t just a buzzword according to Workfront CEO Alex Shootman: “Work is changing. Nine out of ten CEOs don’t believe their current business model is going to survive.” McKinsey reports that only 8% of CEOs believe their business model will remain economically viable if the current pace of digitization of their industry continues. Having worked with 3,000 brands across the globe, Workfront knows the way we work must change.
This blog isn’t about buzzwords, it’s about understanding what the future of work means to people like us. It’s about learning from the leaders doing the brave, hard work of turning brain-cramping buzzwords into efficient realities for their teams and companies. It’s about Workfront customers who raise the bar when it comes to leading high-performing teams that get the right work done. It’s about future of work heroes like Adrian Chang.
Adrian Chang on the future of work.
Adrian Chang is an award-winning leader in B2B demand generation, customer success, and digital marketing with more than 20 years of experience. He’s the senior director of customer engagement at Informatica, a 5,000-employee enterprise cloud data management company that processes 10+ trillion cloud transactions per month and believes that data is changing the world.
At the end of the (work) day, Adrian’s professional passion mirrors Informatica’s: using data to help customers succeed. I got to sit down with Adrian and ask him about the future of work.
What does the future of work mean for humans?
Q: It's a hot topic, but run “future of work” through the jargon filter and you might end up with nothing at all. What does the future of work mean to you?
A: The future of work is boundaryless. It transcends location and all other previously held conventions about how work gets done. The idea of being present isn’t limited to just being at a physical location. Through technology, we can connect with others, share insights, and be productive.
There’s a freedom and fluidity around people and work now that empowers us to work in flexible ways that honor our lifestyles, enrich our experiences, and enable us to contribute to our companies’ objectives like never before. Work is becoming this opportunity to bring us closer to what we care about.
Q: How do we know when we’ve “arrived” at the future of work?
A: We won’t. Work will never stop changing. We’re constantly seeing new means of collaboration and new ways of connecting with each other. Changes don’t happen overnight, but they’re constantly happening.
Q: In a time when humans still outnumber robots (phew), how do you think and talk about the future of work in a humanistic way?
A: The concept of work and how it gets done is changing. The way we meet, collaborate, and support each other is changing. It doesn’t have to happen face-to-face, and it doesn’t have to happen between 9am and 5pm.
To think about work in a humanistic way is to empower people to work their way. Understand that work happens in the context of someone’s personal life. In our hyperconnected world, let people work in a way that lets them give the best version of themselves to their work.
Q: What do you want leaders to know when it comes to the future of work?
A: Leaders need to buy into the idea that the future of work is about empowering people to work their way. Communicate and reinforce key messages in a way that recognizes the dynamics of how different people work. Understand what propels people to do great work, what inhibits them, and perform constant gut checks.
What’s your BHAG (big hairy audacious goal)?
Q: BHAG (bee-hag)—every trailblazer is committed to one: a daunting challenge, a bold mission, a treacherous mountain to summit that’s so high in the clouds you may not see it yet. What’s yours?
A: I want to deliver such a great customer experience that we acquire every net new customer and win every deal.
Given the size of my goal, there’s a mind-shift my team has to make from doing more work to doing the right work that allows us to focus on the highest priorities. If my team isn’t obsessed about removing friction from the customer experience, then they’re not doing the right work. The right work gives us the most ROI and helps us get in front of the right customers. For example, quadrupling our pipeline is a forcing function: just as we have to focus on what we’re going to do, we have to focus on what we’re not going to do.
This is where work management technology comes into play. It gives context to our goals because we know what other teams are doing. It helps us align our galaxy of work with other teams’, so we create the right inertia that sets the whole company up for success. When it feels like everyone needs a chunk of our time, a work management platform helps us pick the order in which we’re going to execute so we don’t have to make that judgement call every time.
Having a single work management platform that connects all work results in better transparency, better visibility, better decisions, and better business outcomes. There’s a shared mutual responsibility when, for example, you see someone on your team has a heavier load; you get the chance to redistribute resources and be selfless in your pursuit of goals.
If you could remove one obstacle at work, what would it be?
Q: If you could, with a single effortless wave, remove one obstacle at work (perhaps something standing in the way of your BHAG), what would it be?
A: I’m limited in my ability to measure effectiveness in real-time, which means I’m limited in my ability to delight the customer the exact moment a customer experience is happening. A delay like that has ramifications. With real-time insights, I’d be in a better position to fail and learn fast.
Here’s an example of what I mean. What’s the cost of a trial user who is unable to complete their experience within 24 hours? I want to know about fall-off points in real-time. I want real-time visibility into when the company-customer conversation breaks down.
Q: How would tearing down this barricade impact you, your people, your enterprise, and your customers? Would removing it change how you feel about work?
A: Removing obstacles to our work creates confidence, trust, and innovation. Removing barriers helps us stay connected to and invested in our work. In an ideal working world, people believe their work matters. A byproduct of that personal pride is better business outcomes.
The future of human work is about empowering people to work their way.
Adrian Chang is changing the way work gets done at Informatica because he’s focused the lens on the most important factor: people. His advice to leaders? Understand what propels people to do great work, what inhibits people, and perform constant gut checks.
Adrian’s commitment to technology that serves, not rules, his people; his understanding of the direct link between personal pride in our work and better business outcomes; and his relentless pursuit of big, hairy, audacious goals make him a future of work hero to watch.
Although Adrian believes the future of work will never end, his positive influence on the trajectory of our rapidly changing working world has only just begun. Follow Adrian Chang on LinkedIn.