Two years ago, I wrote “the world of work – it has changed!” – a blog where I shared my view on how in the world we live in “holding information gave a sense of power to people. While that may have worked in the yester-years, the world has moved since and so has the world of work; and its time that people took a moment to understand how, and what that means for us”. And of course, two years later, we are still trying make these mindset changes happen in our organizations even as the world of technology & what it means to learning & access to information has transformed leaps & bounds.
Leading talent development for a business today makes me see how this refusal to change our mindsets has handicapped us & our ability to leverage learning available to us today. But it’s time to reset!
What is driving learning today is not access to information or data or knowledge because we all have all of that. We have limitless information accessible to us today (because of technology) and it is not technology that is changing any of that about learning. Data/ information has been commoditized today and what is worse is that computers and robots have access to exactly the same data/ information.
So, what is the future of learning, if all information is accessible to all and can be used by anyone at a click of button?
The Futurist Gerd Leonhard (do read about his work on Technology Vs Humanity) spoke about ‘learning to be more human’ as being the real future of learning. And that is worth giving a thought – if all cars become driverless, will a machine make the right judgment call about choosing to hit between a human & a tree, because clearly hitting the tree (in the rightful calculation of a machine) would mean more damage to the car than hitting one in a million human, for example. So who or what decides ‘right & wrong’ in an ecosystem that is highly led by technology?
The above sets the premise of our new world and if that is true, lets think – how will humans continue to add value? The last couple of years, we have toiled over what could be the skills of the future and what does that mean for the workforce of organizations that are so focused on automation, robotics & digitization? Conversations among CXOs suggest that yes there are some work that can be done better by machines & those will no more be skills to aspire for, but at the same time there are certain different skills that will take importance in a world ruled by technology:
- Ability to connect the dots & see patterns/ trends in disparate things: The Internet of Things (#IOT) has made all data / information connected & available to all of us and everything we do today gets captured by technology in some way or the other, through the varied devices we use. Imagine the ability to draw relatedness between time taken to brush teeth, to projected number of dentist appointments expected to be scheduled in a neighborhood in the next one week, for lack of a better example. Or like Steve Jobs called it … the capability of ‘Sensemaking’ – being able to see patterns.
- Collaboration & Networking: As technology continues to accelerate the speed of change in life for us, the more we are able to network & connect, the more we will learn and the faster we will learn. Relationships & social connects will emerge as a critical capability, as in a world where information is freely available, getting the right solution will depend on one’s ability to ask the right questions or source the right questions. The ‘power of many’ will be crucial and to do this right, the ability to understand emotions or motivation triggers and being more ‘human’ in business will win.
- Having a design & user experience mindset: This refers to the way one approaches a certain situation or a problem. While machines will undoubtedly be able to identify the most efficient solution given the data available, the capability of people to approach situations/ things keeping human values & what matters to people will be critical. The ability to empathize with the end-user’s need will be the differentiator.
- Connecting Across Cultures: The IOT and technology will make the concept of a ‘global village’ even more profound and that makes people’s ability to connect, correlate and correspond effectively with global citizens very important to continue to be relevant in the new world.
- Humility & a curious mindset: And last but not the least, humility in the connected world will foster relationships that will lead us to success. At the same time, bringing back the child in us, asking questions & being curious about everything around us will be crucial in how we can continue to add value in the new world of work.
These and many more behavioral (softer) aspects of human capability are now taking center-stage. Gerd Leonhard and many such advocates have called out our need to be ‘more human’ as something that we need to consciously ignite in us. Be more in sync with humanity, clarify & question our sense of right & wrong so we are able to better appreciate the value that technology brings.
This is my take on the emerging list of “Skillsofthefuture”. The Forbes shared its own version of ‘10 Skills of the Future’ – What do you believe will join this list? Do share your views & add to the critical skills that will matter in the future by commenting below.
About Rajlakshmi Saikia
Rajlakshmi has over 13 years of experience and has worked with organizations like People Matters Media Pvt. Ltd., Planman Media Pvt. Ltd. & Planman Consulting, T&D. Rajlakshmi holds a Certificate in Advanced Global Management Program HR from ILR School, Cornell University.