Recently I read a report from Thomson Reuters that forecasts the science and technology landscape of the near future. Some of the exciting predictions for 2025 include:
- • Food shortages & food price fluctuations are things of the past
- • Electric air transportation takes off
- • Digital everything everywhere… 30 billion connected devices and 7 billion connected people (according to a study by Gartner)
- • DNA mapping at birth is the norm to manage disease risk
- • Teleportation is tested
Being an ardent fan of the Star Trek franchise, I always dreamt of teleportation, but never imagined it could be a possibility in my lifetime.
We see the world around us changing and changing at a speed we have never seen before. How do we change faster, or at least keep up with the pace of change around us? As an HR professional, it is a question one has to ask not only as an individual but also on an organizational level. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to pose this question to a few people whom I consider as visionaries. Interestingly, some very basic themes emerged out of these discussions.
Execute now. Yes, we need to worry about the future and keep pace with technology advancement around the world. But the only way we will have resources to fund these innovations and new ideas is if we deliver now and deliver consistently.
Move the focus from “customer is king” to build “partnerships with communities”. It’s a hyper-connected world. People not only share information, but also opinions. Decisions are made by connecting with others who share an experience. Marketing channels can get people excited, but decisions are influenced by communities of people.
Communicate, communicate, communicate to engage. Doing great work is the baseline, but sharing the opportunities and possibilities with others and getting their opinions/feedback will connect them to you. It’s about creating more and more two-way channels of communication. In the world of control systems, create a closed loop system.
Take the leap from accepting to enabling diversity – diversity of talent, diversity of thought, diversity of learning, etc. While we don’t need a business case to sell diversity, it’s the most uncomfortable thing to do. GE is a great example of embracing and enabling diversity. It’s a multi-business enterprise where diversity is a competitive advantage. We share beliefs, which integrate our efforts and make the sum greater than its parts. These beliefs are a guide for us on how we do our work. The other differentiator is in walking the talk. Metrics and policies have no meaning if we don’t live and practice what we say.
Learn and understand cultures, not countries. It’s not news that we live in a global village where what happens in one part of the world impacts other places. To be successful in playing at this level, one needs to know and understand cultural nuances. I recently came to know that Kit Kat is very successful in Japan because the name sounds a lot like the Japanese phrase “kitto katsu”, which means “you shall surely win”. Imagine refusing a cup of coffee in Saudi Arabia, or an offer of drinks in South Korea, while engaged in important negotiations. It’s a faux pas that could stall the entire discussion!
Invest in talent. As someone said, it’s a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complicated, ambiguous) world. Unprecedented problems can be countered only by innovative solutions, great resilience and strong teamwork. Energizing and developing highly aspirational talent will become a very important skill. Give them a sense of purpose. Engage rather than command. Be open to their ideas – you never know which one will be the next Facebook. Create opportunities for learning and growth will be an outcome.
Continuous learning. According to Wikipedia, it enhances self-sustainability and not just employability. What worked in the past and the present, may not work in the future. Experience may become a hurdle rather than a competitive advantage. The only way to stay at the top of the game is to learn new skills and new ways of dealing with problems. These are the times of ubiquitous learning - learn everywhere, all the time.
I would like to leave you with a quote from Jack Welch: “Change before you have to”.