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Creating Generational Legacies

Thursday, July 20, 2017

“We need to start getting it together to think about the Future of Work."

BBG Mastermind Series  “Beyond the Future of Work”  with Heather Mcgowan and Chris Shipley  



Heather Mcgowan and Chris Shipley launching the "Beyond the Future of Work" Series
“We need to start getting it together to think about the Future of Work."

Heather Mcgowan talking about needing to
"learn throughout the journey of employment".
At school and university, the focus should be to "learn to learn" 

The Comfort Zone, Learning Zone and Panic Zone


The meaning of lifelong employment is now more abstract. It is to pursue a long distance race of learning, to run with the speed of change. To evolve with the value of knowledge and keep up with the currency of time and effort: to surrender to a paradigm of perpetual instability. To expect nothing but the need to become the unexpected as the expected will expectedly be replaced by technology. 
The comfort zone, the learning zone and the panic zone are virtual spaces that differentiate employees not according to their age, but by their competency to engage with an innovative mindset. Currently, the comfort zone of someone fresh to the industry is the panic zone of someone with fifty years experience. The comfort zone is no longer safe. Your job is likely to be replaced with a different job of a different title and skillset. Yet, it need not be replaced with a different person. If one pursues lifelong employment, one pursues a long life in the learning zone. Working to learn makes it possible for changing jobs to be occupied by the same employee.  

The Hunter-Gatherer Era valued efficiency of labor, strength, speed and use of literally cutting-edge technology: a sharp instrument. 

The Agricultural Era called for the augmentation of this labor, survival relied on the knowledge and stamina for farming. 

The Industrial Era saw the replacement of labor with machines for efficiency and optimization of production. 

The Information Era allowed for cognitive reduction as knowledge and skill are easily acquired. In this past period, the predictable timeline began with formal education, transitioned smoothly to career, concluding in retirement. A comfortable happily-ever-after Romantic tale of the workforce. 

Today we welcome the Augmentation Era, where machines and minds are united to enable cognitive augmentation that makes space for creativity, agility and adaptability to the changing economic climate.  There are fewer humans needed to contribute to traditional tasks at hand and there are more humans needed with a bandwidth for the complex and ambiguous.

The vocabulary to sufficiently write about the future of jobs does not exist yet. Here are some abstract buzz words to appease us in the meantime. “unprecedented” and “technological transformation”, “shared economy” and “learning agility”. We will have to unlearn our native language surrounding what it means to have our own steady job, profession and career. We must relearn the way of resilience, adaptability, continuous learning and openness to change. 

How else can the average professional worker of this generation experience 17 different jobs across 5 different industries or survive multiple paradigm shifts? Don’t dismiss this postmodern, multi-narrative pastiche as a psychological thriller. 

Instead of associating our identity with our job, our company or our education, we should begin to think of ourselves in a whole new way. 

To conceptualize a job as the skills it requires, rather then the title at hand, is the mindset with which one can strive. Employees are empowered to view themselves as a partner, to realize the profound value in a portable skillset and an ability to learn from the tools and technology as well as with them.

While our species is getting smarter and more ‘efficient’ at completing tasks, the individual has the same cognitive capacity and bandwidth. However, the individual will need to shift toward utilizing the emotional and imaginative faculty of creativity, critical thinking and problem solving as machines will replace every possible aspect. To access our cognitive bandwidth is to employ automated technology that will replace non-creative tasks. 

The domain of the elite is making ones passion productive, which can be done by being open to every industry, as we carve the line between ‘what is human work’ and ‘what is machine work’.  Human work involves innovative entrepreneurial problem solving. Soft skills. The ability to help others. There is a misconception that high level jobs are safe from automation and low level jobs are at risk. 


As degrees don’t guarantee jobs, we enter a renaissance period of learning, which values learning agility and mindset as what is needed are highly skilled people who can solve ambiguous and complex problems with creativity and collaboration, while anything task related will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence and Machines.   
Heather Mcgowan - People are living longer,  and the skillsets needed are for the younger generation. How are we going to close the gap? 

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