Staying ahead of the juggernaut

Even IF You’re on the Right Track

Dave Kinnear 1-On Leadership

The Relentless Technology Train:

Even if you’re on the right track, you must be moving fast enough to stay ahead of the train of technological change, or you will be run over! Being slow to adapt isn’t cutting it these days. And the juggernaut is getting faster all the time.

I just received a “Call for Papers” from the University of Texas on the topic of Global Workplace Learning & Development. Here’s an outline of the Sections:

    1. Change Management
    2. Project Management and Partnerships
    3. Governance
    4. Important Trends Across Generational Learning
    5. Culture and Language
    6. Engagement and Motivation
    7. Workplace Technology Learning Trends.

Under each of those sections are titles for “chapters” that one might choose to write about. Now, these are called “topics that are left,” implying that there are many other topics already assigned. So, I don’t have a complete picture of what this publication is about beyond its title, these section titles and chapter headings. It promises to be an interesting publication, and when combined with the World Economic Forum report on the Future of Jobs and the myriad “technology vs. jobs” articles in the last year, we get a picture of accelerating change.

Intelligent Machines

After spending several years studying and thinking about all of this, I have worked things through to rather simple concepts, one of which is: To stay ahead of the technology juggernaut, we must learn to work with intelligent machines — DUH! That is, of course, easily said and not so easily accomplished for many people. During the transition period (we’re in it now and have been for a while) there will be many displaced workers. There has always been displacement when disruptive products and industries came along. There will be new jobs created in the “high-tech” industries requiring advanced degrees in STEM fields. But those jobs will not be as numerous as the jobs destroyed by technology (that is already true in some industry sectors).

It’s Not Just About Work

This change will affect all parts of our lives. From the promises of job creation being made by politicians to how goods and services are shared in the global economy, we will see significant, accelerating change. As I said, technology is destroying more jobs than it creates. No politician can stop that. And where’s the money going to come from to create public work projects? Our economic model will need to change as we see consumption decline and work opportunities diminish.

A right track is life-long learning. We must pick up the pace, and we have to enroll as many of our people as we can. It’s my understanding that our students are doing well, in general when compared to other advanced countries. Those who are not willing to put in the effort and pick up the pace will be left in low-end jobs or worse, end up among the many unemployed.

Even Our Hobbies

Here’s an aside: the composite image above was edited on a hybrid (laptop/tablet) PC machine that can easily replace my “large” desktop workstation. The stylus that comes with it made editing far more efficient for detailed work than using a mouse. The software I used is generally only seen on high-end graphics workstations—or, at the very least, seriously robust personal computers. And yet, the hardware is no bigger than a standard lined pad portfolio and weighs only a couple of pounds. Every two to three years or so since about 1985, I have invested about $2,500 to purchase the latest PC hardware/software. And each time I did, I more than doubled the capability and productivity with that machine and software. I believe that rapid advance in technology is going to accelerate.

It’s Only Going to Move Faster!

The pace of change and innovation is accelerating. I’ve spent my professional life in electronic technology, and I am passionate about it. Still, it’s a challenge to keep up even in my little corner of the technology world. The question is, how will you keep up? How will you advise your children and/or grandchildren to prepare for their future? No, you can’t cop out by declaring you don’t care because you won’t be working by then. We must leave the world better for our having been here, so what’s your plan?