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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In a world of complex technology only those with mastery will always find work – have you adapted your career plans?

As early as April 2001, Carayol & Firth wrote:
"Create and establish your own goals and your own road map for your own success."

" ... see your organisation as a temporary partner in your life but not the means and the end of it. Your company (employer) is a momentary co-creator with you of developments, growth, learning, fulfilment, meaning and wealth - not the source or benefactor of those crucial things. This mind-set, funnily enough, will reciprocate your organisation's real thoughts about you ..."

"The syndrome of employment as a ghost-marriage is a great danger to one's personal Voodoo. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, staff stay on and on, not daring to imagine, let alone attempt, the single life again. This slow paralysing of thought, innovation and empowerment wreaks havoc in time on any healthy organisational system - and on the personal system."
RenĂ© Carayol & David Firth, ‘Corporate Voodoo: Business Principles for Mavericks and Magicians’.

Richard Scase noted in his article ‘The Future for Business’ several years ago:

"Companies are being forced to reinvent their management cultures ..."

"In this emerging future business world, old textbook categories that separate the economics of large and small firms, different economic sectors and the importance of geographical location no longer apply. The core assets of companies cease to be their technologies and other tangible assets. Instead, the core competitive advantage of businesses is now intellectual capital; in other words, brain power."
To read the full article see:

Lynda Gratton in her book ‘The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here’ published in 2011 notes:

“In a world of more and more complex technology, it is the highly skilled employees, or what I will call those with mastery, who will always find work.”

Writing about the year 2025 she continues later, “With the emergence of mega-cities, instead of connected parts these suburbs are increasingly becoming slums. Far from claiming their own purpose and identity, these concentrated areas of ‘surplus humanity’ exhibit intense poverty and little direction. This disconnection has been exacerbated by vast urbanisation that has seen millions of people leave the land, hoping for a better life in the cities. As the slums around Mumbai or Johannesburg will attest, these hopes are rarely realised.”

The term ‘surplus humanity’ is jarring when first read but it should be noted that this quotation is taken from the ‘downside’ 2025 scenarios presented by Lynda Gratton in this ‘wake-up call’ book. It is clear that having a general skill in future will increasingly see one competing for employment with five billion equally capable people, as well as robots and computers. Therefore one will need to cultivate mastery – the ability to add value that no one else can match – in a series of fields over a career. A career that will likely span, not 35 years but up to 50 years, as life expectancy lengthens towards 100. Certainly the days of starting a first job with a corporation and leaving one’s career to the corporation to decide, then retiring on an adequate pension at 60 or 65 ended more than 20 years ago. Sadly many companies still see from their point of view the advantages of having employees think that that is still the contract, at the same time as corporations have no intention to return such ‘loyalty’. When it no longer suits the next quarter results to retain an employee, or indeed a whole division or business line an unceremonious parting will swiftly ensue.

‘The Shift’ is a book well worth reading if you do not intend to leave your future, and the future of those you care about, entirely in the hands of others and the forces that will shape work in the future. Those forces, as listed by Lynda Gratton are; (a) the needs of a low carbon economy and finite energy resources, (b) rapid advances in technology, (c) profound changes in longevity and demography, and (d) important societal changes. The book gives the reader an opportunity to imagine what a work-day in 2025 could be like, and some guidance as to how one may prepare to ensure the outcome is positive rather than negative. See:

William Gibson was inspired in 1993 when he said, “The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.”

It behoves us to look around, see what is already happening and position ourselves and those we care about to ensure the best possible future outcome.