It’s exciting times that we live in. Why is this?
The relentless drive of technological advancements from automaton to Artificial Intelligence (AI) are;
– replacing tedious, repetitive, labour intensive skill sets
– therefore, making the commoditisation of humans as mere workplace resources redundant
– and in turn, exposing the uniquely human traits & characteristics these technologies cannot produce
Exciting times indeed if you are human!
Validating this are the top ten trending skills for 2022 as identified in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Future of Jobs Report 2018‘
These trending skills are uniquely, inherently human traits that
– ignite & inspire, not dampen and dull
and alone have the capacity to
– deeply connect, genuinely engage and innovate with the diverse array of humans that you serve both internal and external to your organisation.
It’s an era full of anticipation and excitement for the human potential waiting to be revealed
Let’s take a brief journey back through history to review the revolutions preceding the era now unfolding and the implications this has in shaping the future of work and the future of learning.
@ 1765 The 1st industrial revolution - Mechanised Production
With the emergence of mechanisation, such as mass extraction of coal, the invention of the steam engine and the development of railroads comes the acceleration of economic, human and material exchanges and the blueprints for the first factories and cities as we know them today.
@ 1870 The 2nd industrial revolution – Mass Production
The combustion engine develops to utilise new sources of energy such as electricity, gas and oil.
Communication methods are revolutionised with the telegraph and telephone and transportation respectively with the automobile and air travel. These inventions are made possible with economic and industrial models based on new large factories and the organisational models of mass production envisioned by Taylor and Ford.
@ 1969 The 3rd industrial revolution – Automated Production
Nearly 100 years later, nuclear energy emerges surpassing all that has come before. From this we see the rise of electronics with the transistor, microprocessor, telecommunications and computers.
Space research and biotechnology becomes possible through the production of miniaturised material. Production within industry further automates through the rise of automatons and robots.
In order to harness the transformative potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, business leaders must act now to access a rapidly closing window of opportunity to meet the challenges of accelerating change and innovation.
What characterises these preceding revolutions are leaps of technological advancement that transformed human systems from an agricultural society into an industrialised one. Successive industrial growth spurts utilised mass labour relying on vast swathes of the human workforce to be involved in highly routine, repetitive work. Humans were used (and often still are) predominantly as adjuncts to the advancing machinery and technology –just another resource in the pursuit of business’s strategic goals.
“My concern, however, is that decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking or too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution born of, yet distinct from the third, is the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing our government, business and human systems at an explosive and exponential rate. It is poised as the most profound of all industrial eras. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes the enormous potential as well as the possible risks we face.
‘The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril. My concern, however, is that decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking or too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.”
For the first time, since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, our current era provides opportunities for business leaders to be future driven and adopt a new strategy of augmentation. It will require bold leadership and business entrepreneurship. Rather than narrowly focusing on automaton-based labour cost savings of the past, an augmentation strategy takes on a new perspective, one where the broader horizon of value-creating activities that can be accomplished by human workers, often in complement to technology, is brought to the forefront.
An augmentation strategy acts to free up workers from the need to perform routinised, repetitive tasks in order to better able use their distinctively human talents. Whilst the explosion of new technologies on offer will take away some tasks from workers, in practice, their overall effect will be to vastly amplify and augment their uniquely human abilities
This is why we live in exciting times. The accelerating change and innovation heralded by this era brings new opportunities to drive companies’ medium to long-term growth, as well as contributing to society, social stability and the growth of human potential.
However, to unlock this vision, companies must pivot to a new mindset, one of agile learning that will be needed on the part of workers as they shift from the routines and limits of today’s jobs to new, and previously unimagined futures. This agile learning must also extend to an organisation’s leadership, without which, may significantly hamper new technology adoption and stagnate the growth of the uniquely human traits that are needed to navigate this new frontier.
That’s why we stand on the precipice of a reskilling imperative – one where an agile mindset takes the lead…and uniquely human traits take the stage.
The Future of Jobs Report surveyed business executives, predominantly global organisation’s CHROs*, from a wide range of industries across 20 developed and emerging economies, collectively representing more than 15 million employees, to seek their views as they face the workforce changes afoot in today’s enterprises. Key findings from the results included the necessity to:
- Harness new and emerging technologies in order to;
– improve production efficiency and
– compete on new products and services for a global consumer base composed increasingly of digital natives
- Transform job roles and reskill workforces as these technologies disrupt the current environment and create new ways of working not yet even envisioned.
- Upskill leaders and people managers to successfully lead this transformation
Proficiency in new technologies are clearly a key trending skill set required to lead this transformation, yet it is only one part of the 2022 skills equation. It is the uniquely ‘human’, non-cognitive skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, active learning and learning strategies, leadership, social skill and emotional intelligence that is first and foremost required to lead the vanguard. And interestingly what lays the foundation for the pursuit and accomplishment of proficiencies in technologies not yet even envisioned and of which we cannot succeed without, are these most human of our human traits.
Our business leaders and managers at all levels of an organisation are faced with a unique opportunity to embed into their practice a new mindset and new way of leading that will nurture, grow and develop these natural traits to the benefit of all. Such an exciting era of glorious possibilities for the pursuit of purpose and a new human renaissance for all – are you ready to join the expedition to the Higher Curve?
Our COACH to GROW Leadership Program supports leaders and managers to adopt a future driven mindset and develop coach like behaviours they can integrate into their daily management and leadership style to nurture, grow and develop their people into the Future of Work and Learning.