The Future of Work is coming at us with breathtaking velocity, driven by technology, global demographic shifts, and the corporate profit imperative. To survive – and thrive – in this unfolding future, workers must be prepared to rapidly learn, unlearn, and relearn in order to adapt to new paradigms.
That’s why The Future Is Learning.
The Frameworks provided here set context for this rapid change and help you set a path to a brighter Future of Work.
The Future of Work is Learning
When information was scarce and knowledge acquired only through another human, the value of that stock of knowledge was high and the aggregation of that wisdom in a university degree was proxy for a good job and a stable career. As access to information becomes nearly ubiquitous (70% of the planet will be connected by an internet connected smart phone by 2020) the value of a stock of knowledge drops and related value of that bundled wisdom declines. We must move from transferring existing knowledge and predetermined skills to new sets of professionals and develop agile learning mindsets where we stream knowledge.
FIFTH ERA IN HUMAN HISTORY
Throughout human history, we have augmented our ability to perform most tasks using various tools of our invention. Harnessing animals accelerated labor-intensive agriculture. Engines and machines made factory work not just easier, but often possible. Calculators and computers made professional work far more productive. Today, super-computers with vast stores of information even augment a doctor’s ability to make difficult diagnosis. Up until now, these tool advances allowed us to hyper-specialize but as the machines begin to replace cognitive work, we need to become net-generalists focusing on the uniquely human skills of creativity, collaboration, and empathy.
The design process is a series of phases of convergence and divergence or focusing and flaring from problem finding, framing to solving and solution selecting. The design process is uniquely suited to identify new value to be created. The early phases of the design process are steeped in ambiguity, adaptation, re-orientation, and sense- making. In a world of accelerated change with rising automation, where fewer people are needed to work in execution and optimization, there will be a greater need for individuals adept at the early phases of the design process-- we propose to call this a new field entirely-- design learning.
Change and Longevity
The combination of rapidly extended human longevity coupled with technology and social accelerated change requires that we rethink our system of education, workforce development, and work itself.
Third Industrial Revolution (Rifkin)
Industrial Revolutions are defined by how we communicate and manage, power and fuel, and move economic activity. As we advance in the digitation of economy we move into the third industrial revolution marked by an external neural network that moves communications, transfers value/capital/finances, and autonomously transports individuals and goods via drone flights, self-driving cars, and hyperloop transport systems. All future economic activity will leverage this neural network.
Evolution of Work
As humans we have moved from single self-sustaining producers to semi-organized barters with some skill specificiation to hyper-specialized workers in an organized structure of production. We are now moving from fulfilling roles in the pipeline production (organized structure) to become individual, adaptive, companies of one that engage in platforms swarming to produce work in ecosystems of activity.
Atomization and Automation of Work
The discrete tasks of many jobs, particularly those at an entry level, are being broken into a self-contained work functions that, when digitized, can be done anywhere in the world. Task-based work can then be contracted out to the lowest cost provider in global marketplace. That’s the atomization of work. As that atomized work becomes further refined into a routine or repetitive task with clearly-specified outcomes, that work can become automated and done by machine even more cheaply than low- cost workers. As work moves down this cost and value ladder, more pressure is place on humans to create new and valuable roles for themselves
Jobs are moving in 4 key directions: up to require more skill, down and outsourced to history (entirely replaced by computerized labor), and across in two directions atomization and augmented para professions
Old Economy vs. New Reality
Education used to be a one and done single dose. Careers used to be predictable escalators. Today those separate bands of education, career, and retire have been replaced by overlapping bands of learn, leverage, and longevity.
Fewer Humans Required
Detroit was the Silicon Valley of the past. A snapshot of 1990 and 2014 shows similar revenue activity around the top companies of the day. Where the economic activity diverges is in how it is valued (10x in 2016) and how it is generated (4x in 1990). In short, we are valuing more making the same revenue, perhaps because we are doing it with far fewer humans.
Jobs were once containers for work, like companies are containers for jobs and productivity. Once unbundled jobs can be broken down into work that can be atomized, automated, and augmented. What remains are the uniquely human skills and an imperative to focus on developing portable skills and learning agility.
Productive, Employment, and The Middle Class
The erosion of our middle class has been in the works since the 70s. We value the expectations market over the actual market, we value those who orchestrate the expectations market more than we value those who produce the goods and services that sustain us in the real world.
Visual Communications Imperative
Too much content, too short attention span, superior visual processing speeds and retention.
Velocity of Change and Adoption
Technology is growing exponentially as is our adoption of new paradigms to which we must adapt to survive.
Three Drivers Changing Work
Industry consolidations meant more production could be handled by fewer humans. Automation also replaces humans. Work Intermediary Platforms enable these existing companies to tap a human talent cloud for on demand work.
Complicated Vs. Complex
In the old, industrial, economy workforce development geared towards complicated work made sense. Today, work is complex and a new paradigm for learning and workforce development is needed.
Divergent Thinking Imperative
Our education systems have been reliant on measuring convergent thinking -- this is what can most easily be automated. We must shift to include divergent thinking for greater problem finding and framing.
The Future of Work is Learning
We must focus on new value creation.
Types of Innovation
Understanding what type of innovation you seek aligns you with the right questions to ask, right capabilities to seek in your team, and right expectations to set for success criteria (co-created with Ellen di Resta)
I an a world of accelerated change the entity focus can no longer exclusively be on the artifacts (products, services, experiences) or even the business model-- the thing to get right is the culture that enables all of these things.
Velocity of Change Requires Adaptation
Paradigm shifts used to happen once a generation. Due to a combination of accelerated technological change and expansive human longevity we must absorb and adjust to multiple paradigm shifts with in a single generation.