Last year was a tremendous acceleration. Remote work, still considered even “dangerous” by some only a couple of years ago, has made way for the new normality of hybrid work environments.
Many of the things my colleagues and I have been sharing for years regarding the “Future of Work” are suddenly not so “Future” anymore. And that is only the beginning.
There is overall a new understanding emerging that:
“the most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what is means to be human” — John Naisbitt
Two key dynamics were brought to the forefront last year:
- Our planetary interdependence
- Valuing humans beyond being a resource
We realised first hand last year that nature doesn’t care about national boundaries. As even the very social contracts that created them are coming into question, we are realising that we are all on one planet, and that what happens in Beijing matters in Boston, Berlin, and Bangalore. We see planet earth and one humanity; we don’t know how to deal with it yet, and we lack the systems to govern ourselves on that level.
Valuing humans beyond being a resource
As we see each other daily on our screens, with spouses, kids and cats in our backgrounds (or our filters), we “see” each other anew. We see each other’s humanity. Comforting each other and finding ways to deal with the herd anxiety we all felt, has brought us closer together. Our relationships have gone beyond the transactional. We see the human in each other.
These two key dynamics are at the core of multiple dynamics that were trending even before “the great reset”, and which have since only been accelerated:
We see each other now. Everything is becoming visible. Be it the role of essential workers, women or minorities, or the deep segmentations in our society. Google and friends know not just what moves us, the questions we ask and search for, the photos and comments we post, but also where we have been and who we met with, and even what our heartrate was when we saw them. From personal technologies to our environment: with IoT and sensors everywhere, with trackable supply chains and distributed ledger technologies, the whole world is becoming visible.
A friend of mine said that 2020 was like walking into the kitchen, turning the lights on, and seeing a bunch of roaches scurry away. We can try and turn the light back off, leave the kitchen for a moment, but we know the roaches are there now, and sooner or later, we will have to deal with them.
No longer can we hide (not even in a secret valley or on Mars). We cannot hide our darkest shadows, nor our impact on the world around us. The blinders are off and we see the earth and our role in it in a new way.
We need lots of new solutions for this world. Innovation requires creativity. Creativity requires diversity. We require lots of new perspectives on the problems of our world.
Diversity is no longer something “to be dealt with” to quiet the annoying voices. It is an essential element if we wish to create solutions that work for humanity and the planet.
Rather than reacting to a lack of diversity, through regulation or protest, we get to embrace diversity as the key to building the future we want to live in.
For that we have to become clear about what values we are optimising for.
If we asked our AI who should be arrested in Arizona, the likelihood of it suggesting someone of color is ridiculous. Similarly, if we asked who should be the next member of the Board at a German company, the answer would be “Thomas”.
We have to determine and take charge of the variables we put into our equations. Different variables will create massively different solutions.
To do so, we have to be clear about what we value. Our values will adjust our algorithms to support creating the kind of world we want.
Especially, as much of it is becoming automated. Through Distributed Ledger Technologies and the platforms evolving around it, we will soon be able to replace entire organisations with DAOs, running code at speeds we cannot even fathom. All business is based on agreements. As algorithms take care of executing on them, we need to become very clear about the agreements we make.
Everything has consequence. Today, in a world of acceleration and transparency, consequences happen much faster. Cash cows of yesterday become liabilities of tomorrow, overnight. We need to learn to make decisions faster and more distributed to allow for more rapid responses. This requires localised responsibility and ownership, and tighter feedback mechanisms to let us know if we are on track.
We get to take interest in the whole planet now. Each of us, in every moment, is determining the fate of humanity and life on this planet. Depending on how far you zoom in or out, we are all part and parcel of a whole, part of a holarchy, whole as such, and yet deeply embedded and enmeshed in all that is. All life is connected and mutually interdependent. We get to act in ways that matter.
Life is precious. It is precious because we die. Without death, there would be little value in being alive. Yet everything dies. The impermanence of all things that ancients talked about is becoming apparent. Everything has a lifecycle. Life is not linear, but cyclical. That beckons to make life worth it and to ensure we get the most out of it — out of our lives, our businesses and even our business process. It beckons for purpose, and it is not surprising that last year two thirds of employees in the US looked up purpose. When we face death, we want to make life worthwhile.
Future of Work, What?
What does all this have to do with the Future of Work? What about VR and mixed reality, the office of the future? What about other technologies? Advances in synthetic biology and nootropically enhanced performance? What skills should we learn?
The next decades will bring change at such rapid speed that much of what we learn one day will become obsolete the next.
Instead of concerning yourself with upskilling your workforce, uplevel them to become continuous learners.
The capacities most required now, are human capacities, not specific technical skills. Those can be learned on demand — often for free.
In our work with startup teams, in innovation sprints and bootcamps in global organisations, and with highly creative teams of artists and media makers, who live on the edge of the future, and who live some of the trends described above much earlier than most, we found seven key capacities that make up cultures of those teams:
- Transparency → Authenticity — They engage in self-care, self-regulation and self-cultivation, and show up with their full selves, guided by an inner authority.
- Diversity → Psychological Safety — They ensure inclusion, learning and contributing, and even challenge each other in a forwarding way.
- Values → Clarity — They ask questions and make sure everyone is on the same page and clear about what matters.
- Contracting → Agreements — They are aware of choice, ensure consent and personal sovereignty, know how to make requests of each other, and are committed to fulfilling them.
- Consequence → Feedback & Acknowledgement — They also know how to clear and reset the relationship when agreements are broken, provide each other with forwarding insights into how they can improve, and acknowledge each other as they grow together.
- Ecosystems → Care — Aware of their interdependence with everyone and everything around them, they care deeply. They are interested in the world in the original sense of seeing themselves “in the middle of”, and act accordingly.
- Purpose, well,… Purpose is at the core of making life meaningful. They are aware of their own mortality, often driven by a sense of urgency in their creativity, and also know that their creations will pivot and even eventually die, so they make sure they maximize each moment.
These capacities are innately human, but often not activated or sufficiently conscious. We have found that you can learn these capacities, and we have been teaching them to a variety of groups, testing their efficacy in different contexts.
Without being able to create together, we will not be able to create a future that works for all. Without being able to create ourselves as individuals again and again, we will have a hard time creating together in volatile and uncertain environments that require us to bring our full selves to bear.
It is time for a human and cultural upgrade, so that we can thrive in the future, and make our work meaningful again.
Those will be the most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century.
Originally published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-future-work-trends-now-has-gone-mainstream-philip-horv%C3%A1th/
We at LUMAN are launching a new product based on the 7 capacities mentioned above. Stay tuned for the release.
The future belongs to those who create it. What kind of future can you envision? For yourself, for your organisation, for the planet?