When I was in my second year at university two of our housemates undertook an exchange with a partner university. The year was 1994. Melissa and Kate went west to snowy Canada and Chris and Marie-Ellen came to sunny Eastbourne. Each evening Chris and Marie-Ellen would both head off to a library that had one computer that was connected by mysterious technology to be able to send electronic messages, like a telegram to a computer back home! I remember quizzing them on this curiousness and particularly, why they would want to do this? What a naive question in retrospect? But at the time in 1994, I just couldn’t see the benefit beyond replacing hand written letters. Now 25 years on, email is pervasive and blights most professionals by overwhelming them into unproductivity.
Looking back over the years, in terms of technology, I admit to not being a regular ‘first adopter’, happy to wait for the microwave to come down in price from £895, comfortable that I don’t need the latest xphone as a surrogate show of my manhood. But I have always felt for interpersonal relationships it is better to stay ahead.
Work is changing and will do so at a rapid pace over the next ten years and many of the things we consider skills (and are appraised as our efficacy) will decline in their utility – swept away by the nature of change.
“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. The first – steam and water power; second – electricity and assembly lines; and lastly third – computerisation which in many ways gave birth to the fourth – AI. Our workplaces and homes will become smarter and more efficient as machines and humans start to work more effectively together as connected devices tune specifically to our needs, for example your fridge running low on lacto-free milk and adding it to your next online shop.
Think of all the things that require you to process, administer, capture, analyse, synthesise, design and package – there is probably going to be an automated version on the horizon, that does it all for you and does it 100 times better.
BRILLIANT you might be thinking that’s all my emails, admin, accounts done for me – that’s going to be wonderful. No doubt you’ll be able to cull a great deal of duties that are mundane, boring and not great use of your time.
BUT what are you going to do replace those activities with? Or more importantly what are your employers going to want instead?
AND critically are you the one with the skills they’ll need?
Industry 4.0 is on it’s way folks. Step up, learn and adapt or expect that you’re previous effectiveness won’t be worth much anymore.
One CEO remarked, “I am having to lay off hundreds of people because their jobs have disappeared and I do not need their skills – and I have hundreds of job openings that I can’t fill because I can’t find people with the right training and skills.
If you’re interested in developing new insights and networks, join us at the Supporting Champions conference in March to hear how the top professionals in elite sports are impacting performance.
As companies will inevitably shift to a smarter technical infrastructure and capability what do the trends show us for the future of human working?
Technology is a tool – we must be proactive in shaping how technology is used and empowering people to embrace and learn how to use it effectively
Craft skills are predicted to rise in prominence. If they weren’t already the key differentiator between great and good. Systematic development of interpersonal and teamworking skill will be essential
Critical thinking and problem solving – as the machines spew more information out, the creative, lateral thinkers, capable of high-level problem solving and trouble shooting will differentiate themselves from the pack into those fewer highly valued workers
Collaboration is at the fore – even now you can see that one solution to one problem won’t cut and paste across to solving another almost identical problem. Competitive advantage will come from holding close trusted colleagues, sharing ideas, being honest and vulnerable to admit the problems as a source of information rather than weakness. Discussing approaches and attitudes is critical, as well as learning from diverse industries rather than staying in your silo
Leadership to deal with change – Dramatic shifts are on the way, people will be de-railed unless they up-skill now and leaders need to pre-empt this and support people through the process
Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Reckon you could do it? Of course, you can! But you can bet your bottom dollar there are people out there far, far more highly skilled than you to do so. Better at utilising technology, already investing in collaborative networks, committed to learning from diverse industries, up-skilling in problem solving, and honing their leadership skills – right now.
There are no coherent ideas about what the 5th industrial revolution looks like but expect each shift to arrive earlier still so staying adaptable is key, there’s more to come. That means that continual learning will be a fixture for the high value professional of the future.
Now’s the time to get skilled to face that future head on.
“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”
Simone de Beauvoir
NB. Machine learning is predicting that for the next million years or so you’ll still require extensive knowledge of display settings to connect a laptop computer to a projector as this automation can only be brought to the human race by aliens of a superior consciousness