Future Skills Now!
Future Skills Now! How You Can Stay Ahead.
The world is changing, rapidly. Companies struggle with new values, being challenged by transparency and new ethics. Customers demand cleaner, greener and cheaper products while the IT landscape is changing by the minute. New management philosophies say: make mistakes but the reality is you’re doomed on social media when you do. How to deal with all this, is the biggest management challenge of all times.
This article helps you to get great insights on which skills management and employees will need in a new world where change is the only constant factor.
What we don’t need so desperate anymore?
The ’00s and the ’10s showed us that it was important for companies to be ‘lean’ and ‘agile’. Lean was designed to reduce waste and improve operational efficiency, especially related to repetitive tasks as often in seen in manufacturing. Agile was designed to execute tasks over a short time frame, with frequent customer involvement, and to be able to make changes quickly. Dexterity was an important key of success within companies so we needed people with lean and agile skills.
Also the way we communicated needed improvement so we started to integrate e-mail, whatsapp, Facebook and other social media in our communication set, next to our mobile phone, our laptop, Skype and other new tools. So we needed people that could help us with our new communication.
Technology was booming but complex so we needed people that understood how it worked, how to install things and how to maintain it. And how to solve problems.
We also needed to understand our employees and customers in a better way so focus was on human resources management as well. Because we were still afraid that we did something wrong, we needed people that were good in (quality) control and coordination. We wanted persons that were able to cooperate so we had to have people that were quality team players.
And to top it all, we needed people that could deal with all these (new) things within the required time frame so HR was paying a lot of attention to improve time management.
Why do we need new skills?
The World Economic Forum, where all bright minds (like CEOs, experts, leaders) come together in Davos (Switzerland) each year, tells us that no less than 42 percent of the current required skills of employees (mentioned above) will be changed. It may not come as a surprise that the digital transformation of the world is the key driver for changing skills.
[What is The World Economic Forum? The WEF is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does. Their activities are shaped by a unique institutional culture founded on the stakeholder theory, which asserts that an organization is accountable to all parts of society. The institution carefully blends and balances the best of many kinds of organizations, from both the public and private sectors, international organizations and academic institutions. They believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life that have the drive and the influence to make positive change.]
Revolutions as drivers for change
Let’s talk about the industrial revolution. Like Rocky Balboa, the world just needs more episodes to develop into something else. Sylvester Stallone transformed Rocky, a young and angry boxing talent into an old, contemplating and regretful legend and needed 6 movies for this turnaround. The world is evolving too and already brought us a bunch of industrial revolutions.
The first industrial revolution led us to major social changes when companies started to use steam machines, cast iron, mechanization and water power to produce products on a large scale.
The second one brought us steal, oil and electricity and everything that comes with it, like mass production and assembly lines, while we now are at end of the third industrial revolution. Our social life has changed in the last twenty years because of the computer and improved communications, while people and organizations started acting globally because of new, unlimited opportunities due to automation.
At the moment we’re on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution and it is all about technology. Technologies will start to develop exponentially (instead of linear) and will get entangled more and more. That’s the core of this revolution. Networks, platforms, machines, systems and people will all be connected with each other.
We’ll see more and more artificial intelligence, robotics, genetics, biotechnology and new ways of processing. Big data, quantum computing, internet of things – the future is here already!
Cyber physical systems take over and this will lead to an overflow of disruptive innovations, like we saw earlier with Facebook (creating social communication change), Tinder (creating change in the way we choose partners), Bitcoin (creating ways in which we can pay), Bookings (creating change in the way we celebrate holidays) and Uber (creating change in the way of transporting people).
Disruptive innovations will change our lives dramatically even more. Like the way we choose our partners, pay for stuff and book our holidays. But also in the way organizations deal with employees we get to see disruptive changes. In the future employees will not be following leaders anymore but will be leading more and more by themselves. In the end they will become the organization.
[What are cyber physical systems? Cyber physical systems are integrations of computation, networking, and physical processes. Embedded computers and networks monitor and control the physical processes, with feedback loops where physical processes affect computations and vice versa. The economic and societal potential of such systems is vastly greater than what has been realized, and major investments are being made worldwide to develop the technology. The technology builds on the older (but still very young) discipline of embedded systems, computers and software embedded in devices whose principle mission is not computation, such as cars, toys, medical devices, and scientific instruments. Cyber physical systems integrates the dynamics of the physical processes with those of the software and networking, providing abstractions and modeling, design, and analysis techniques for the integrated whole].
What will be important or even vital skills for the (near) future?
Changing the structures of organizations will be much easier because the technology is finally supportive instead of a nuisance. This is key to have in mind when you think about future skills. New technologies will lead to new products in a way the world has never seen before. There will be completely new business models based on the new possibilities.
However, this can only be done if the right skills to deal with it are in place.
It won’t come as a surprise that ‘thinking’ will get more important than ‘acting’. This ‘acting’ attitude was key in the zeroes and the tens, where situations demanded a ‘trial and error’ mindset. However, with the new technologies analytical thinking will be a key skill for employees.
Also there will be no surprise in saying that innovation skills will be of the utmost importance. Innovation is not a skill in itself but a combination of multiple skillsets. For successful innovation it is important that people can combine cognitive skills (like creative and critical thinking), behavioral skills (like problem solving, risk management), functional skills (writing, reading, communicating) and technical skills (like research, project management).
Importance of innovation explainedAlthough it is obvious that innovation is and will be important, it is useful to know that there are four main reasons why innovation needs to be integrated within organizational structures.
- Recruiting top talent: successful innovative companies will attract talented, innovative people as they want to work with companies where they can develop themselves and contribute to a better world.
- Meeting customer needs: innovation is needed desperately to meet the ever-changing customer needs. Innovators see how the market is changing and will come up with ideas that excite customers again.
- Growth: innovation makes it easier to grow, no matter how large or small the company is. New solutions for existing customer needs always sell better than old solutions for old needs.
- Stand out from competition: successful innovation allows you to offer something unique to customers.
Unfortunately companies start to think about innovation when turnover is already declining and customers are leaving. Needless to say that pressure on innovation along with impatient behaviour of management will result in failure. It is eminent to start with integrating innovation in your organisation when things are going well.