University Degrees of the Future

Futurist guru Thomas Frey recently posted a list of 52 university degrees that we will need in the future. His insights reminded us of two important leadership strategy lessons.

Leaders Think Forward

While this idea seems obvious, I believe we understand it much better than we practice it. To prove the point, consider these facts:

  • When Google launched, no one was teaching online search engine strategies.
  • When Uber launched, no one was teaching sharing economy business models.
  • When Apple first opened their App Store, no one was teaching smart phone app design (Frey).

Experience and history indicate that gifted future-thinkers are not typically the popular people at the table. They push boundaries. They identify problems with your business model (and are the ones who actually talk about it – over and over and over!). They are not content and often become isolated because they make us uncomfortable. However, in an era where we love buzz-word disruptive technology, we must embrace the reality that disruptive ideas are sourced from disruptive people. Disruptive leaders know how to think-forward.

Leaders Take Calculated Risks

In addition to anticipating the future, we must also discern when it is time to act in advance of a market need. Frey noted that the Colorado School of Mines has begun to offer a degree in Asteroid Mining. Yes, you read that correctly – asteroid mining. Since it takes 6-8 years to launch new degrees and train students, we must become adept at offering programs (or products or services) before they are in high demand. However, the term innovative and universities are often at odds. As a whole, universities tend to offer the tried-and-true (as do many other industries). We are more apt to copy what is working elsewhere than to boldly go where none have gone before. However, we will need more degrees like the groundbreaking asteroid mining program!

Imagine how educational and entrepreneurial effectiveness could change if they worked in tandem!

For your interest, here is an abridged list of the degrees that Frey believes we need to offer to prepare for the future:

  1. Space exploration: space tourism, planetary colony design, non-earth human habitats and space infrastructure.
  2. Smart cities: autonomous traffic and construction integration, next-gen municipal planning and mixed reality modeling.
  3. Autonomous agriculture: robotic and drone systems, supply chain management and systems theory.
  4. Cryptocurrency: digital coin economics, cryptobanking design and regulatory oversight, and forensic accounting.
  5. Blockchain: Design, systems and application, biological blockchain technology, and municipal blockchain design.
  6. Unmanned aerial vehicles: filmaking, command center operations, and emergency response systems.
  7. Mixed reality: experiential retail, three-dimensional storytelling, game design, and therapeutic systems design.

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Contact him today to find out how he can help enhance your personal and organizational effectiveness – jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Thomas Frey

Are You Second-Skilling?

During a conversation with a colleague, she noted that she believes her job will be automated in the next five years. At a glance, her job of valuating the invisible worth of companies sounds like a complex task. However, she is close enough to technology to realize that these calculations are an algorithm that can be accomplished by a computer.

It’s a fact – the rapid pace of change is changing the way we do business. In turn, this is shifting what we need to do to stay employed. So how are you developing employable skills amidst this change?

A recent TED article highlighted a useful idea that is being utilized in a country with an unemployment rate of only 2%. Singapore had double-digit unemployment and low workforce literacy in the 1960’s. It has since vaulted to the status of a highly successful country which has a gross domestic product that is 300 percent higher than the global average (Oakley). So, what is their competitive advantage?

Barbara Oakley’s research reveals that Singapore has a national program which encourages education. And more recently, the focus has been on re-education. Called ‘second-skilling‘ or ‘upskilling‘, the premise is simple – facilitate ongoing training to help workers adapt to an adaptive workplace. Oakley compares this to metaphors of stepping stones and conveyor belts. In previous decades, each job was a stepping stone which led to the next one. This stepping stone model is logical and paced to the needs of the employee. In contrast, modern business is more of a conveyor belt, constantly moving and progressing. The choice of stepping where and when we wish is different as we shift from a stepping stone to a conveyor economy. Therefore, employability requires constant change to keep up (is anyone else picturing Lucy stuffing chocolates in her mouth at the end of the chocolate factory conveyor belt?). However, while our businesses move forward, it cannot be assumed that workers will also develop at the same pace. This requires intentional effort.

Developing second skills will require training which is outside of the scope of an employee’s current job or career. To facilitate this, Singapore’s government provides annual grants for citizens who want to upskill. This allows ongoing development of skills which can help expand knowledge, skills and employability.

The premise is simple – productive employees need to advance the pace of their personal conveyor belts. While some employers may facilitate this, many will be reluctant to invest in training which may not directly benefit themselves. Therefore, the force behind second-skilling will likely need to be self-motivated or incentivized by government agencies.


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

 

Source: Barbara Oakley

10 Questions Leaders Ask in Team Meetings

A few weeks ago my post on Questions to Ask During a One-on-One garnered a lot of attention. Today’s post follows a similar theme and, thanks to a tip from Shannon at Soapbox, provides 10 questions to consider asking during team meetings (with a few of my own ideas thrown in).

  1. When is the best time to give work-related feedback?
  2. What information do you need in order to perform better? How would this help you/us?
  3. What is our team’s biggest challenge?
  4. What blocks our success?
  5. What do we need to start doing? Why?
  6. What do we need to stop doing? Why?
  7. What have we forgot to do that worked in the past?
  8. What was a win we/you had last week?
  9. What is an example of how we successfully demonstrated one of our core values (with our team or with our customers)?
  10. What is an example of how we failed to demonstrate one of our core values? How can we avoid doing this again?

There are a lot of great questions and this list simply provides a few fresh ideas. What would you like to this list?


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Good Mistakes: All Mistakes Are Not Created Equal!

Do you (or your organization) have permission to make mistakes?

Your answer to this question not only reveals your risk tolerance, but likely provides insights into your personality and innovative abilities as well. In a recent workshop with some great staff of the SoCal Ronald McDonald Houses, a key theme was the reality of constant and ongoing organizational change. Working in an organization in flux is challenging. But the increasing pace of societal change means that constant flux is the new normal.

Constant change means that mistakes are more likely to occur. So how can we teach our staff to be happy and healthy amidst change? Furthermore, how can we help them make mistakes that matter? Eduardo Briceno has published a very helpful model which we can use to help employees understand good and bad mistakes. 

This model is effectively simple so I’ll bet you are already drawing your own lessons from it. However, let me illustrate three points to help equip us with reminders about change and mistakes:

  1. No matter the mistake, the learning opportunity is always high! One of my contracts recently dropped the ball and forgot to complete a task by a stated deadline. This mistake cascaded to about 20 other people who were unable to do their work as a result of this error. However, the apology email I received the next day was impressive. The individual owned the problem (on behalf of one of her staff), outlined the root causes and went on to explain three things she was doing to both fix the problem and keep it happening again! I often tell people that I don’t mind mistakes. However, I do mind how people respond to mistakes. When we own, fix and learn from mistakes, we become better as people and as organizations.
  2. Sloppy mistakes can be minimized. Sloppy mistakes happen because our intentionality is low. Stated more simply, sloppy mistakes happen because we don’t care (or forget to care). Repeated sloppy mistakes are often the sign of a disengaged or under-skilled employee. We all get sloppy, but repeated sloppy is a big red flag!
  3. We need to teach and coach our team members differently based on the type of mistake they make. Stretch mistakes should be praised, high stakes mistakes should be thoroughly debriefed (often in ways where others can learn these expensive lessons as well) and ‘aha’ moment mistakes need forums in which to be shared. As my title states, all mistakes are not equal. Wise leaders will identify the type of mistake made and then ensure that their response to mistakes matches the need. And in the midst of a busy-work day, this takes intentionality.

Good teams have leaders who give them permission to make mistakes. Excellent teams have leaders who help their team dig deeper and understand the type of mistake they made, and how they can leverage it into something that will benefit both them and the organization.

After all, pobody’s nerfect!


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Mindset Works

Five Jobs Robots Will Take Last

Last week I shared a post called “The Five Jobs Robots Will Take First”. It reminded us that technology is eating into a job market that used to be done by us! In today’s post, we will review the opposite – jobs that robots cannot do! See if you can spot the common theme through these careers. Credit for the great content below goes to Shelly Palmer!

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1. Pre-school and Elementary School Teacher

Unless we are trying to turn our children into little computers, we cannot let computers train our children. (“Singularity” people, I know what you’re going to say. The Kurzweilian future is now estimated to begin in the year 2045. There will have to be a minimum age law associated with human/machine integration.) I can imagine a robot kneeling beside a sobbing five-year-old (who just figured out that his mom packed PB&J instead of a bologna sandwich) and offering comfort and a shoulder to cry on, but the robot is unlikely to provide an emotionally satisfying outcome. We teach our children to be human. If we want them to grow up to be human, they will have to be trained by their own kind.

2. Professional Athlete

Would football be interesting if it were played by robots? Maybe. Would it be fair to put human athletes on the field of play against robots? Probably not. Using today’s regulation clubs and balls, robot golfers would consistently shoot in the high 40s to low 50s. What’s the point? As long as humans strive for athletic excellence, humans will need to play sports. What about surgically enhanced, genetically modified athletes? That’s for another article.

3. Politician

Politics and humanity are inextricably linked. The complex mix of subtlety and nuance required to become a successful politician is not in the current purview of AI. It’s a training set that would require a level of general intelligence that is far beyond the reach of near-term technology. Machines do not need politics; they “live” in a meritocracy. Humans live in anything but. As long as fairness and equality are important topics, humans will be the only ones on the political scene. Some of you will remind me that all politicians have the same goal: to get reelected. And therefore, politicians should be very easy to program. Nope. Sadly, politicians will be among the very last professionals to lose their jobs to AI. (They are also in a unique position to legislate their own job security.)

4. Judge

Judges, adjudicators, arbitrators, and people who judge baking contests or Olympic sports or any type of contests that require both objective and subjective assessments have practically robot-proof jobs. Subjective judgment requires vast general knowledge. It also requires a thorough understanding of the ramifications of your decisions and, most importantly, a precise ability to play “I know, that you know, that I know” with the parties who are directly involved, as well as the public at large. If you can make a living judging baking contests, you’ve got lifetime job security (as long as you don’t eat too many pies).

5. Mental Health Professional

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals will simply be the last jobs robots can take. Sure, we could do a combination natural language understanding, automatic speech recognition system tied to a competent AI system that would make a fine suicide prevention chatbot. But there’s much more to understanding and treating mental health issues. Again, humans are better equipped to understand other humans. This is not to say that medical professionals won’t leverage AI systems to do a better job, but the ability to create a robot that could take the job of a trusted psychiatrist will be outside of our technical reach until we have functioning WestWorld-style robots. And even then, it will be a reach.

By this point you have likely noticed the common link in all of these careers – humanity. I encourage you to extend this same principle into your own career aspirations. Is your work humanity-based? If so, your job could likely be added to this list. However, if you find yourself in a career that is rooted in processes, you may want to begin training for a people-based profession.

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Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source – Shelly Palmer

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Five Jobs Robots Will Take First

Consider what it would have been like to have been employed as a carriage driver when the automobile was invented. Or to have worked in the paper map division of Rand McNally when smartphones began telling us where to go?

These questions came to mind while I was attending the BNP Paribas Tennis tournament last week. While watching a player challenge an ‘out’ call, I asked my wife why we need a tennis umpire when every debatable decision is made by video replay! As times change, so do our jobs (and how we do them!). Today’s post is a rehash of a brilliant article by Shelley Palmer of The Palmer Group. In it, he highlights five jobs that are moving from humans to robots. And stay tuned because next week I’ll speak about the five jobs robots will take last! Enjoy!

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1. Middle Management

If your main job function is taking a number from one box in Excel and putting it in another box in Excel and writing a narrative about how the number got from place to place, robots are knocking at your door. Any job where your “special and unique” knowledge of the industry is applied to divine a causal relationship between numbers in a matrix is going to be replaced first. Be ready.

2. Commodity Salespeople (Ad Sales, Supplies, etc.)

Unless you sell dreams or magic or negotiate using special perks, bribes or other valuable add-ons that have nothing to do with specifications, price and availability, start thinking about your next gig. Machines can take so much cost out of any sales process (request for proposal, quotation, order and fulfillment system), it is the fiduciary responsibility of your CEO and the board to hire robots. You’re fighting gravity … get out!

3. Report Writers, Journalists, Authors & Announcers

Writing is tough. But not report writing. Machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, I expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers. You know that great American novel you’ve been planning to write? Start now, before the machines take a creative writing class.

4. Accountants & Bookkeepers

Data processing probably created more jobs than it eliminated, but machine learning–based accountants and bookkeepers will be so much better than their human counterparts, you’re going to want to use the machines. Robo-accounting is in its infancy, but it’s awesome at dealing with accounts payable and receivable, inventory control, auditing and several other accounting functions that humans used to be needed to do. Big Four auditing is in for a big shake-up, very soon.

5. Doctors

This may be one of the only guaranteed positive outcomes of robots’ taking human jobs. The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new UN DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) report. In practice, if everyone who ever wanted to be a doctor became one, we still would not have enough doctors.

The good news is that robots make amazing doctors, diagnosticians and surgeons. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, IBM’s Watson is teaming up with a dozen US hospitals to offer advice on the best treatments for a range of cancer, and also helping to spot early-stage skin cancers. And ultra-precise robo-surgeons are currently used for everything from knee replacement surgery to vision correction. This trend is continuing at an incredible pace. I’m not sure how robodoc bedside manner will be, but you could program a “Be warm and fuzzy” algorithm and the robodoc would act warm and fuzzy. (Maybe I can get someone to program my human doctors with a warm and fuzzy algorithm?) (Shelley Palmer)


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Dr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source – Shelly Palmer

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Foresight: The Organizational Alternative to Fight or Flight

It has been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. While I believe this statement to be trite and overused, I am also annoyed by how true it is. Today’s post provides two examples of companies who prove this idiom contains truth you should heed!

The Bad – Failing to Plan

The story of a Nevada power company exemplifies what occurs when we fail to plan. When the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino completed installation of 26,000 new solar panels, they told their power provider (NV Energy) they were leaving the grid. NV Energy’s inability to foresee the impact of solar use (in the sunny desert!) led to them losing 7% of its revenue when Mandalay stopped using their services. And it gets even more interesting! This energy company took them to court and Mandalay ended up having to pay $87 million to NV Energy so their losses would not be passed on to existing NV Energy customers. “This is what happens when disruptive technology becomes popular: the monopolies fight back” (CBC).

The emergence of solar as a clean energy alternative is not new, especially in sunny desert regions! States have been legislating changes which require companies to use more clean energy for many years. However, many utilities have neglected to plan for these changes. As a result, this example reveals what occurs when we fail to plan.

The Good – Anticipatory Planning 

In contrast, UPS, known for their logistics solution, is branching into something unusual and new – 3D printing. While this may seem like a stretch, this decision is a result of intentional foresight work. Foresight is the ability to anticipate and respond to trends and key external forces which have the ability to disrupt the way we do business. Here is how UPS used foresight to respond to disruptive technologies in their environment:

‘Aside from its main package delivery service, UPS gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction. To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them’ (Freuters).

Foresight also explains why UPS is investing in companies that make drones and an upstart one-day delivery company (Frueters).

As a futurist and strategic foresight junkie my heart is warmed when I read stories about companies like UPS. In contrast, my blood begins to boil when I read examples about the electricity industry (because I pay for their ineptitude on my monthly bill). So even though the statement may be overused, failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.

If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy. Alvin Toffler

In times of rapid change, a crisis of perception – the inability to see an emerging novel reality by being locked inside obsolete assumptions – often causes strategic failure, particularly in large, well-run companies. Pierre Wack


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Reuters, CBC

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/MalikBhai

The Seven Stages of Innovation

In the past I have spoken about the process of innovation (see Hot or Not and Hype Cycles). These posts utilized the Gartner model to show how a product or idea progresses through several stages before it moves from an idea into a useful product (see chart below). This model provides a means to understand the technical stages innovation undertakes. However, what about the human side of innovation? How do we as people impact the innovation process? How do we respond to it?

Figure 1: The Gartner Hype Cycle

Figure 1: The Gartner Hype Cycle

Morgan Housel recently outlined the different stages people go through when we adopt a new innovation. He outlines seven steps which big breakthroughs typically follow:

  1. First, no one’s heard of you.
  2. Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts.
  3. Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity.
  4. Then they view your product as a toy.
  5. Then they see it as an amazing toy.
  6. Then they start using it.
  7. Then they couldn’t imagine life without it.

To illustrate this Housel showed that some of the greatest innovations of the last century – the telephone, the automobile and flight – were all unheralded and criticized widely at the genesis of their innovation cycle. However, over time these steps have come to fruition and we now view all of this list as things we cannot do without.

While these seven steps focus on products, I believe they also apply to ideas. As leaders, we need to anticipate that new ideas will result in skepticism and opposition. After all, “we’ve never done it that way before”. However, this model shows that successful ideas will require determination, perseverance and communication.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, provides a perfect summary:

“Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort … if you really have conviction that they’re not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It’s a key part of invention”.


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Morgan Housel

Infographic: The Digitization of the US Economy

The infographic below (courtesy of McKinsey) provides great insights about how technology pervades our business lives. I encourage you to specifically review the chart which reveals digitization by industry as it reveals some surprising insights. Also review the data on estimates of middle-skill jobs which are being displaced by technology.

MGI-Digitization-Infographic_web


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: McKinsey

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/RonitGeller

 

 

 

Hot or Not? Understanding Innovation

One of the benefits of blogging is that it provides me with a steady source of new ideas. Over time, some of these ideas fade while others become even more poignant. One of my biggest ‘aha’ moments was the discovery of something called The Hype Cycle (even the name sounds sexy!). So what is it and what does it teach us?

The Gartner organization makes a living off the Hype Cycle. Figure 1: The Gartner Hype CycleTheir model helps us (and their clients) understand how new innovations move from inception to application. It identifies several distinct phases that an innovation morphs through as it progresses from an idea to something that is productive (see chart). In other words, it teaches us that good ideas take time before they actually become useful.

For example, my teenage son began speaking of the Oculus Rift several ago (the inflated expectations stage). This virtual reality (VR) system was an early leader in the development of VR headsets. However, almost three years after Kaden introduced me to Oculus Rift, we are just entering the zone where VR is becoming a relatively mainstream product (a search for VR headsets on Amazon reveals we are moving towards the plateau of productivity). Therefore, the Gartner Hype cycle equips us with information by which we can recognize the distinct phases that products go through before they are useful.

e-learningSo what does the Hype Cycle concept mean for you? While Gartner uses this model to assess innovations in technology, I believe that this idea is equally valuable with ideas or services as well. For example, the chart on the right uses the Hype Cycle to assess eLearning innovations in higher education. I use the Hype Cycle principle when I assess new businesses, new products, new pop music artists, election campaigns, new services, and even when I meet new people in my networking activities. If you have heard someone speak of an idea that ‘is ahead of its time’ you have also heard an indirect reference to the Hype Cycle. 

The Hype Cycle is a helpful way to help understand the pattern of acceptance for things which are new. While you may not have the science or research backing that an organization like Gartner does, I encourage you to use this model to begin to assess new things.

One can only wonder where hipsters fit on the Gartner Hype Cycle!

Postscript: The chart below outlines the 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle. It will introduce you to some ideas that you have never thought about. I can hardly wait until I can tell someone about smart dust!

Gartner Emerging Technologies 2016


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Gartner and WebCourseWorks