Why self and organizational learning are so important to the innovation process.

As humans, we are not evolved to live in insulation. As such, environmental triggers are important to the learning process, ability, and outcomes. Collaboration and sharing have always played an essential role in the development of societal ability to enrich itself with knowledge and skills. By sharing your experiences and being open to accepting other people’s opinions and knowledge, we become both students and teachers. Giving back knowledge creates an impact circle that enables us to grow alongside others.

Competences of the future.

It’s hard, some say impossible, to predict the future, but you can navigate it if you have the right set of tools. It’s clear that with the current pace of jolting technologies, yesterday’s learning will fade away, and we will have a choice on our hand. To be replaced. Or to advance ourselves to a new level.

Algorithms certainly can process more data than we as humans can. Contextual placements, empathy, creativity and dreams are the territory of a human brain. The ability to forget is the first competence we must learn. We must forget the way we used to learn and rethink the whole narrative of learning.

Another competence we must master is critical thinking. In a world where we constantly shift from a physical reality to a virtual one, where we will need to adjust ourselves to immersive experiences, and where the laws of physics are written in code, it is critical thinking that will help us cope.

As empathy might be one of the most important competences to have in the future, it will be the force that anchor us to the essence of humanity. Without it, there is no reason to discuss the future at all. Creative thinking and curiosity, no society exists without them. It’s not a competence we need to learn, but rather never lose.

What is the future of human resources?

Recently, I was asked to give a keynote speech for one of my clients during their human resources employee retreat. I have always believed that the greatest asset of any organization is its people (something that Elon Musk is discovering after he fired most of Twitters employees). That brings us to the question of why human resources departments (along with IT departments) always seem to be at the bottom of the food chain?

The human resources idea was conceived against the backdrop of the industrial revolution by Charles Babbage and Robert Owen. The intention was that the wellbeing of the worker was critical to worker productivity. The core purpose of human resources practice was to drive industrial welfare, personnel management, scientific management, organization management, and industrial psychology. But, like everything connected to the industrial revolution, ideas tend to be diluted and fade away, and from a productivity-driven function, human resources became an administrative department responsible for attracting, hiring, training, and developing employees.

(Yes, there are a few cases where the role of human resources has evolved to be more strategic, but these are few and not enough.)

The impact of new, jolt-inducing theologies on computation power, machine learning, automation, and fast-tacking, as well as social trends and a shift in narratives will require a new thinking. In order for organizations to secure their place in the future, they will need a guiding power to help them navigate the unknown.

The most important human attributes that have brought us this far are first, our ability to envision the future, to imagine multiple scenarios, and choose the one we want to go after. The one we believe is the best option for us. Secondly, our ability to cooperate and collaborate with each other. We value communication skills and an understanding that only when we work together can we grow and develop. And, finally, our ability to bring the right people together to engineer and build solutions for the future that we envision.

One could argue that the first step, envisioning the future, is something that leadership is responsible for, and as not everyone in the organization is a leader, this function is held by a small group of people at the top. However, the other two functions are related to industrial welfare, personnel management., scientific management, organization management, and industrial psychology. In other words, two-thirds of an organization’s ability to navigate the unknown is in the hands of human resources.

It is obvious that to have a successful future, all parts of the organization must work together. However, human resources are uniquely positioned to be especially helpful to the organization because of their focus on people.

This focus on people is crucial in this time of change. With the approaching era of mass technological automation, when algorithms will be able to process information faster and better than humans. And, as we step into a narrative where social constructs and public dialogues are determined by technology companies like TikTok rather than thought leader. It’s important more than ever to safeguard the humanity of organization. The ability to construct a dialogue with your co-workers, clients, and partners is not a marketing, IT, or R&D skill, but a basic human function. The product of human resources is understanding the constructive narratives, driving creativity and innovation, and influencing the companies strategic trajectory.

The future is not only about technology, it is about our ability to make technology work for us. It is about finding new ways to create value and to make a difference in the world. We need to be able to see beyond the horizon and to embrace the future with open arms. In order to achieve that, we need human resources. We must find ways to partner with technology to enhance creativity and thinking skills, rather than replace them. This approach will help us create better doctors, better lawyers, better leaders, and better dialogues. If we keep the human resources departments on the bottom of the food chain, we will find it almost impossible to tackle the unknown. Perhaps it’s time to rethink human resources departments as a profit centre rather than a cost centre.

Challenging the existing narratives of pedagogy.

Pedagogy must be treated as experimental science and as such

1.It should be constantly evolving and never stagnant;

2. It should be open to new ideas and approaches;

3. It should be constantly tested and evaluated;

4. It should be flexible and adaptable;

5. It should be grounded inbound research.

Unfortunately, today the fields of pedagogy is stuck in an endless loop of thought fixation, in which what exists is right and should not be changed. This loop is the result of a lack of imagination, and it is something that we must change if we want to secure a path for sustainable and resilient growth of intellect.

The availability of technological tools offers a unique opportunity to challenge the existing narratives of pedagogy.

Over the years, pedagogical narratives have been constructed with the belief that technology should be used in a particular way to support a particular pedagogical approach based on learning theories. These theories of learning have been passed down from previous generations of teachers, who were trained in traditional learning models of behaviorism and cognitivism. It is essential to understand why we are using technology in this way. Emerging technologies give us the ability to revolutionize our existing pedagogical approaches. These technologies provide a powerful platform for educators to challenge the existing approaches to pedagogy and education.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the potential of technology in the fields of Pedagogy and education. The results can be truly groundbreaking, encouraging creativity and collaboration among students and educators. Taking a more personalized and individualized approach to education. Empowering students to take control of their learning and encouraging students to think critically about the world around them.

The measurement of self value

More than anything, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter brought forth the question of what is real. The battle between bots and humans is not simply a question of what is the real value of a company, but how our obsession with measuring self-value is leading us down a path that will land us in the fire of a digital hell.

How many times have you watched ‘Friends’? How many times have you had sex? How many vehicles did you drive? Why is our physical reality not being measured the same way our digital interactions are?

The way the digital realm is changing our perspective on the measurement of self-value is becoming more and more dangerous to our basic human interactions and mental models. It is shifting our focus from the data to people’s options, and by doing that it’s creating an extremely subjective environment where facts are not relevant as long as the numbers of likes and shares are high.

The Future of Work – Understand how to build a better tomorrow What can we expect from the future?

This topic has been done to death in recent years, yet we see no change in peoples’ planning or actions for their future working lives. Even policymakers remain in a stance that could be best defined as ‘inert’ in the face of the coming challenges. One must ask why.

From artificial intelligence, robots, and automation, to universal income and the inevitable new division of labor, this discussion is becoming more and more important; not just for the future of work, but for the future in general

“Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.” — Adam Smith

Of course, Adam Smith was quite correct in his day. Today, however, we have an entirely different economic and monetary system in place, which, some might argue, has begun to undervalue labor as a concept as we approach this transition to a more automated and yes, labor-free future.

I always thought that the word “work” represented a desire for freedom and the ability to rise and create value. As such, ever since the first people used their skills to exchange value with each other, we can’t talk about the future of work without talking about the future of the economy. We originally designed the economy as a set of tools to help individuals to better manage their resources. While some will define “resources” as a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization to function effectively, (Oxford English Dictionary). I tend to like the idea that resources are a set of actions and collaboration strategies we devise, adopt and used to better re-imagine ourselves and push the boundaries of productivity and efficiency.

Economic model

The economic model that we have been using is the deductive system we use to reward the inductive work of the body and mind to generate growth. The relationship between the system and the worker has traditionally been defined by the tools developed to improve the desired outcome of the task in hand. This is where change will be felt the most.

Since the invention of the axe, through Watt’s steam engine, sewage systems, elevators and shipping containers, to screens, smartphones, processing power and machine learning, it has always been actions that were reasoned in creativity, imagination, and invention. Human curiosity has literally designed and built the very world we live in. And now, when we enter a new era in human and societal evolution, it’s more crucial than ever that we do not lose this reasoning.

We live in a world where technology is augmenting almost every aspect of our lives and enabling us to enhance our virtual presence using code. Empathy, freedom, well-being, intelligence, education, governance, creativity, economics, and politics are primary benefactors of the exponential growth and impact of technology. 

For the first time in the history of mankind, natural evolution has reached the zenith of its potential. There is no place to go from a biological perspective. Yes, we might become a little faster and jump a bit higher, but we have reached a point where our organic structure just cannot evolve much more, or fast enough, to make any real difference to our lives. Even with genetic modifications – eventually – we will hit the limit of our evolutionary potential. 

Limited mental abilities

It is not only our organic structure that is facing evolutionary ends; our mental abilities are also severely limited. This is evident in the narratives through which we create the surrounding reality. From geopolitics and global c-suites, we have managed the world with a limited understanding of the challenges that lie ahead and thereby under-utilized our evolutionary potential in almost every arena.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions given the parade of tech celebrities and the list of studies, surveys, and op-eds that present us with apocalyptic scenarios for the future of work:

  • “AI will make jobs kind of pointless” – Elon Musk
  • 75 million jobs are going to disappear. Robots will take over our factories. Millions of truck drives will lose their jobs.
  • Oxford academics, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, estimated that 47% of American jobs are at high risk of automation by the mid-2030s.
  • McKinsey Global Institute: between 40 million and 160 million women worldwide may need to transition between occupations by 2030.
  • Oxford Economics: up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide will be lost to robots by 2030.

Alternately, we can take a deep breath and understand that automation and algorithms will define the future of work. At the end of the day, machines are good at finding creative ways to perform better in human environments, and as the economy should be driven by growth. We shouldn’t fight technology – rather find a means to partner with it and together cross the Rubicon and define a new beginning.

A new beginning

“Change always comes in waves. While the wave itself carries uncertainty, the gaps in between are filled of hope.” – Unknown

I meet many entrepreneurs and often discuss the importance of curiosity in their journey, and with the same breath, I remind them that curiosity is not mastery. You can’t learn entrepreneurship: it’s an emotion more than anything. The trick is to harvest that emotion to drive your learning and experimentation. We are nothing without knowledge – it defines our ability to navigate life. And today, more than ever, knowledge determines our place alongside technology.

Our current education system was designed to take us from the school yard into factories. As such, it’s essential that we open-up the education system to the idea of knowledge through experience and experimentation.

No more gold watches

World renowned author and educationalist, Todd Rose has the right idea when it comes to the required adaptations our educational system faces: “It’s going to require that we have a focus on life-long learning because it is next to impossible to imagine that whatever we’re equipping you to do right now, that that skill set will be somewhat immune from disruption. You know, my grandfather literally worked for one company all his life and got a gold watch at the end. The odds of that happening for you are slim to none.”

There is a need to link business, academia, and policymakers, to establish a new playground; a sandbox where the next generation of teachers, engineers, businesspeople, political leaders, lawyers, artists, nurses, and doctors can find new ways to become better at what they do rather than simply being replaced by technology. A sandbox where we experiment with the idea that thus far we have used technology to upgrade ourselves – maybe it’s now time to use our humanity to upgrade technology. After all, what is the point of technology if it does not enable us to become better individuals and citizens?

The current generation of decision-makers base their values on the principles of efficiency. As such, they are locked in an endless loop of “thought fixation” regarding their views on the environment, sustainability, work-life balance, technology, and more. We live in a world that is continually being modified, yet rarely transformed. The questions we keep asking ourselves are questions that were relevant to a reality that obeyed the laws of physics. And we’re ignoring the fact that most of our economic interaction occurs in a reality that is anchored in code, where physics is obsolete.

We can easily list the skills that today’s children will need to successfully navigate the future:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Originally
  • The ability to solve complex problems
  • Emotion and passion

But why is that list different from the skills we have always needed to excel in life and rise to the apex of our potential? The truth is it’s not!

More innovation

Richard Gerver, another world-renowned educationalist, author, and speaker, understands this challenge more than most: “We no longer need a mass populace educated just to a certain technical level to function efficiently on factory floors. We now require a workforce that are more entrepreneurial, that are more dynamic, more creative, more innovative, more collaborative. To explore the spaces that have been created by the time-saving devices that robots and early AI have created in factory work spaces. But the challenge, the problem in a way, is that we’re still educating people en-masse to fill jobs in those factories and in those offices which are largely technical and about routine cognition. And so, we’re starting to see the early stages of a major clash between educated people and the jobs that are available for them. And we have to understand as a society, and therefore bleeding down into education, that we are no longer preparing people for a world that existed twenty, thirty, forty years ago. We’re living in a post-industrial age, and that means the number of jobs in large factories and large office floors is going to diminish.”

So, we know what the challenge is and that we cannot avert it. What should we do about it? How should our thinking differ as we search for more palatable pathways forward?

We need a set of new ideas:

  • We can’t use code the same way we use bricks
  • We need to move from managing for-profit, to managing for impact
  • Experience should be measured by the quality of choices and not by the number of its functions
  • Don’t confuse symptoms with the appearance and root cause
  • Assets need to build up into properties and capital to deliver value to society
  • Think of technology as a legal system. The legal system was designed to be used (and sometimes abused) by lawyers – entrepreneurs use technology – technology is never the end goal, but simply a path
  • Innovation is an ecosystem, not a job title
  • Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack as opposed to reap the rewards of being a thought leader
  • You can never look into tomorrow using yesterday’s eyes

The intricacy of behaviors between humanity and reality is about to enter an unclear space. To navigate this space, we must remember that only when we face the unknowns can we excel beyond imagination; that fear is the spawn of ignorance. If we only consider what has already happened – or worse, what is currently happening – we can’t design our collective tomorrow. We must learn from the past, be present at the moment, and let those insights allow us to think differently about the future and its endless possibilities.

7 advices to build a better tomorrow

My advice for those who are willing to embrace that challenge to build a better tomorrow:

  • Your careers should be driven by an internal need and not the predefined expectations of your chosen career 
  • It’s okay to be unstructured. When you’re too structured and play defence by the book, you’ll lose
  • It’s okay to take time off. It’s in the gaps we often notice opportunities
  • The traditional education system can’t teach you everything (think how Apple, Microsoft, FB, and others were built)
  • Learning doesn’t end when you finish studying. It’s a constant journey of self-discovery that will last you a lifetime
  • Learning is a painful process. That is why most adults don’t do it anymore:

“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”  Aeschylus

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you choose to study. Let it be engineering, nursing, computer science, art, or teaching. Make sure you’re happy. Compensation for work is always an incentive – as long as you never compromise your moral values for money. The time you spend working is not as important as why you spend it working… And remember, life is short. At least until we can figure out how to transcend it.

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