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VUCA

Fit for the Future

Some of us grew up at a time where only some families had a fixed phone line. We might even remember that we had to go to our neighbors’ home to make a call. I guess most of us remember visiting a travel agency to buy our travel tickets. Our parents worked for the same employer for years and years. In some countries people who worked over 30-40 years for the same employer, used to get a gift for long term loyalty. Our parents were convinced that certain jobs are great and we better aim to follow this path. Ideally continuing the same profession, they had chosen. That was consider back then, a great way to create a “solid” future.

This has been the world of the last century for (more or less) most of the people in the so called “Western World”. Nowadays there are more and more publications suggesting that the jobs that exist today might disappear in the next decades. We read that the jobs that will be in trend in 10, 20 years from now, don’t even exist right now. We just need to think of some people claiming a job title of a “Vlogger” or “YouTuber”. Who would ever imagine a “job title” like this 20 years ago.

The skills required for us to thrive in the future are mostly unknown. The future of work is quite unpredictable. The pace of change right now is exponential. They say that the change in the in the next 30 years might be equivalent of the change that happened in the last 300 years.

Who knows what could be the Leadership skills required from Organizations, if one day they end up “employing” 80% humanoid robots and only 20% humans?

The rise of the so called VUCA world has already a major impact for all of us, especially the ones that actively lead teams. First of all, many of these teams are based in different locations around the globe. This means that the biggest part of the collaboration is virtual. In addition, team members have diverse cultural and generational backgrounds. Hierarchical structures do not matter as they used to do. Not everyone in these teams is equally aware and/or comfortable with the existing set up and the upcoming changes. Leaders have a major role to play in helping their teams to become “Fit for the Future”.

According to research by McKinsey&Company social & emotional skills will remain relevant despite the rise of the digital world: “Our research finds that the strongest growth in demand will be for technological skills, the smallest category today, which will rise by 55 percent and by 2030 … This surge will affect demand for basic digital skills as well as advanced technological skills such as programming. Demand for social and emotional skills such as leadership and managing others will rise by 24 percent…”. (Skill Shift Automation and the future of the workforce, Discussion Paper, May 2018).

It seems that the more we will have “machines” substituting humans at work, the more the added value of humans will have to be differentiated from the one of the machines. Leaders of the future have a real mission to start cultivating the new set of skills required. Skills related to Agility, Creativity and Digital Savviness.

To join the discussion on LinkedIn, please go to: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fit-future-vassilis-chantziaras/
Change

Why not slip into something more uncomfortable?

By Tim Baxter, TCO Associate

Our schooling systems are the product of a society which took certainty and stability for granted. Young people grow up thinking that perfection, zero errors, is possible and that those who do not get full marks have something wrong with them. This form of mass imprinting creates the common held belief that at work we are paid to not make mistakes. How can this help companies achieve the holy trinity of innovation, initiative and creativity that almost every corporate website announces is part of its culture? It short, it cannot!

In today’s world of fast moving, complex and unpredictable change where clarity of direction has given way to ambiguity, perfection is a dangerous block to progress. What is needed is a move towards excellence – the best possible result in a specific situation. This shift in emphasis will require us to rethink how we learn not only in our education systems but also at work. 

Someone who always strives for perfection does everything to avoid mistakes which also includes avoiding risk and playing safe. Learning is an uncomfortable business, it means going to the outer reaches of your comfort zone and dipping your toe in uncertainty. Mistakes will happen, it is a new context for you, but that is where and how the learning happens. No one has ever learned anything, rather than just improved on past skills, without making errors. Speaking, reading, writing, riding a bike all involved trial and error it is just that we have forgotten the process of learning and take the skill for granted.

Some people are naturally inclined to be risk adverse but everyone could benefit from developing a sense of which type of errors are useful and when experimentation should be encouraged. Carol Dweck has spent much of her professional life researching the implications of a fixed mindset approach (where someone avoids anything which might lead to mistakes in their performance) and a growth mindset (which regards mistakes as part of the learning process). Her work looks at children’s education but the premise holds true for adults. When a boss gives feedback to a colleague and praises the individual rather than the effort the person has put into the task they are reinforcing a fixed mindset approach. If this is scaled up to company culture then we have exactly the opposite of what is required to face the reality we operate in today. If we need agility then we need to learn both as people as as organisations. This means making mistakes. Isn’t it time that we collectively slip into something more uncomfortable?

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