We all need to begin to grapple with what is redefining work in knowledge, skills, our experience, and our necessary abilities to be viable and useful
We continue to hear and begin to see the effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It continues to impact skills, tasks, and jobs.
The implications are a growing concern that both job displacement and talent shortages will impact business dynamism and societal cohesion. It is the pervasive power of technology integration that will change the business models of all industries.
Yet we are recognizing it will also giving rise to a number of emerging jobs yet to be identified or formulized to be trained in. A proactive and strategic effort is needed but based on what? We need to manage reskilling and upskilling to mitigate against both job losses and talent shortages but prepared the future workforce to be more nimble, agile and fluid. Here is where innovators are going to be well-positioned.
Working within the innovation space will be one of the best launching pads for being more comfortable for the future of work. Let me explain why
First, we have to recognize “Human capital is still the most crucial asset of any business—in fact, even in an age of ubiquitous technology, it is human skills, creativity, and capability that will form the competitive edge for any organization” (WEF report quote). We will continue to have basic components of a job. Aptitude in Knowledge, in our Skills and our Abilities, to do the job on hand. Then it will also rely on the experiences we have gained in education, in improving on what we know and the work-related experience.
A detailed report for the World Economic Forum in 2018 “Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-led action for the future of work”, in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, investigated viable and desirable job transition pathways on the Future of Jobs. What struck me was the role innovation plays in all three categories: today’s skills (2018), those that will have demand in 2022, and those that will decline in 2022.
Look at the skills predicted to decrease in 2022, many of which are still being taught in our schools, and many that we continue to traditionally focus on within our present work. Transitioning from skills we find comfortable today to skills that will be new to many of us, is a journey for each of us.
This list of skills we all need to increase is the source of innovation thinking, technology certainly gives us knowledge and insights but it is capabilities to “string this together” in connections that might not be capable to be provided on the pure reliance of algorithms, artificial intelligence or machine learning. Humans are better at making the randomness form connections that are often described as “light bulb” moments or eureka discoveries. We seem to connect more of the unconnected and reform it into a new connect.
We all need to recognize and begin to adapt to this transition that we will all need to become readier to accept being self-managed. That’s a good thing. For many, it is a little uncomfortable to not be supervised but for the innovator within us, it is the pathway to creative freedom. So, we need to look around and see what might help us.
We need to understand how to become more intrapreneurial, agile, and adaptable, and continuously seek out a diverse set of collaboration spaces as places where we can be seen, appreciated, and valued. Working in the innovation space offers you the opportunity to grow and learn what this means and how it works for you.
So, the value of becoming more engaged in being creative, wanting to participate in innovations, will position those people at a significant advantage in the new world of skills we will be needing.
The Big Takeaway for me is the positioning of working in the Innovation Space
Working in the innovation space will greatly enable you to build skills that will become increasingly valuable.
Just STOP here and re-evaluate this skill demand 2018 vs 2022- What do you see? Differences that you need to adjust too and learn now.
Just take this insight into our roles, the role to influence, to change existing roles, to influence and lead others, and lay claim to mastering the skills that are needed in 2022. Prepare yourself, innovators, and take that “future of work” hill.
How can we “give voice” and influence bigger challenges? How can we project ourselves beyond those that know us? By taking a more outward action, even we can get re-engaged to influence and change things that can make a difference. Innovation is a terrific enabler to gain confidence, to show your worth, and to feel like you are contributing to the future. We need to focus on bringing value into what we do, and innovation is one of those uplifting ways to achieve this.
Let’s think about this a little more with some higher-level thoughts.
Recognition of being empowered by innovation
Innovation needs to transform from being some abstract, distant, vague thing that seems still separated in its specialized unit and not seemingly part of the core of the business we work in. Innovation is central to surviving in the future; it is where we provide not just something new but a better advancement on what we presently have. It is far more than a means to make things faster, cheaper, or slightly different; it is a place to show transformation – to become more radical in what can be possible and seen as highly valuable. Breakthroughs in health, food, energy, agriculture, and tourism can all be more “sustainable” for our planet and for us to live better lives.
Have you noticed everyone has a different definition of innovation? We all struggle with our own definitions of what innovation means. So what? Get over it, and let’s recognize that innovation needs to have outcomes that give a certain uniqueness or that sustaining edge to what is presently available. We need to finally nail innovation down, it aims to improve on what we have. Look for your innovation to be distinctly different, empowering, motivating, and showing engagement.
The Big Recognition Innovators All Need
As you innovate, you grow your personal value. You get exposed to risk and uncertainty, and how you react gives you confidence or can equally drain that confidence away. Whether you gained confidence in your actions or lost it, it is the experience that lets you grow. It helps you navigate unknown scenarios better, and this skill increases the more you expose yourself to risk. Engaging in innovation can have a profound impact on you. Is this why we shy away from innovation when it seems to have far too many obstacles? Or do we push back and overcome these obstacles? As we push back, we are reshaping ourselves to be far more ready for a different future. Not a bad thing in my mind. It all prepares us to be more confident in the future.
When we feel our culture to innovate is wrong, what should we do about it? Should we disengage, or should we show its viability and make your voice one that matters in that validation? We are pushing ourselves as we equally need to push our organizations. We are becoming more entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial in seeking curiosity, creativity, and human capability, to demonstrate why the culture should change, and here’s why in your endeavors you look for those positive climates and environments, that can allow you to innovate.
We all must get far more comfortable with dealing in all the unknowns coming towards us.
The innovation spaces provide plenty of the unknowns; how we go about overcoming them is the gift we have as humans. Machines can help, but humans can recognize and relate far more. We see multiple patterns if we open our minds to them. Machines help us, but ingenuity is with us for a long time.
We often have a natural reflex to go back into safe mode, especially when it comes to innovation. We see the over-investment in productivity that not only drives out variances, but it can also drive out the space and time for creativity equally. We must fight this. Evolution is not built around today’s operations. We need increased flexibility. In shorter production runs to cater increasingly to individual customer demand, we need to tailor our responses far quicker, and we need to be highly adaptive and agile. So, when you feel that reflective urge to revert, fight it. You become far quicker and skillful in what you do.
Raise your voice; offer sound reasons why a different culture would help find better answers to grow the business and keep your ‘own eye on the ball’ when it comes to your personal learning. You will be in increasing demand in the future with these skills shown above.
Can you push for more “foundation” investment in innovation?
Just reconsider this list of the roles that need greater investment and the ones that will decline and will over a fairly short time have a declining investment in. This becomes a very compelling argument for skill investments, on where to spend the organization’s money to re-equip it for its future. Let machine learning, artificial intelligence take over the “declining list” as its natural place. Fight to make human space in the increasing skills you need, where humans do have a significant advantage.
This transition to positioning ourselves for the jobs in the future is ALL ABOUT the needs of the innovator to get to build their knowledge, skills, and aptitudes in each of these listed above. Go back and look at the list. Innovators need all these and they need to focus on these even more as they are the basis of all work of the future.
My advice, start early and become an innovator and spend your time and energy learning and experiencing all these learning components can offer, to give you a set of experiences that position you for the future.
We need to build our personal roadmap.
We need to be clearer on our own personal ROI. To seek out challenges and opportunities, and go closer to the edge, we do see within ourselves, so much more, far more because we are experiencing the edge; the edge of discovery, investigation, and inquiry.
We gain personal power, and our voices are respected and recognized because we were just that bit bolder, edgier, or ready to take something on. Try it. It is invigorating and sometimes a little scary, but we are in that sort of world. The innovator’s skills will be in increasing demand, so be ready, willing and able.