Friday, December 20th, 2019 | 4 min read
How can we humans make sure we’re still valued contributors to the changing workplace of the future? Futurist Tom Cheesewright says he’s studied this question with clients in a wide range of industries and come up with three key workplace skills that are already fast becoming more important than ever.
“What we need is people who can do what machines can’t,” he says.
I know these are key workplace skills that I want to help cultivate on my team – and that I want to hire for as Sprinklr grows.
I talked with Tom Cheesewright on a recent episode of the Sprinklr Coffee Club and it was a fascinating conversation. We talked about what a professional futurist does (help organizations prepare, adapt, and avoid hype), about how organizations are changing (networked org structures, products and services integrated on a technical level, investing in horizon scanning to minimize risk of surprise), and we talked about what individuals can do to thrive in the future.
“Being right [about one thing or another] only gets you so far,” he said, “what you need are the skills to adapt, the skills to learn, the skills to innovate, understand, & communicate.”
“The first skill that’s really important is what I call Curation,” Tom said. Finding and sharing great information, with the right people, in an effective way is a powerful way to bring value to the workplace. It’s not just a fun or quirky habit, it’s a practice of connecting people with problems to information that can offer solutions. And it’s a skill that some people have become very good at putting to use.
Tom defines Curation like this: “The ability to discover and qualify information.”
“This is only getting more important in this age of deep fakes and fake news,” he said. “What we need is people who can do what machines can’t, which is discover sources of information, bring together disparate sources of information qualify them, recognize the real from the fake and start to give them weighting and value.”
In addition to curating and combining, creation of novel new work, processes, ideas, or presentations is powerfully important.
“I don’t know what the education systems are like there but in the UK, we have this terrible habit of teaching people very early on that they are not creative if they can’t draw or play an instrument. Basically, you are creative if you can do pretty pictures and if you can’t you’re not. What we’ve got to do is teach everybody that they can be creative, that creativity is a muscle that can be developed. It can be trained and honed. And so we’ve got to get people who are excited about being creative – excited about making new things now and innovating, building new stuff, whether it’s recombining existing things, going back to the recombination aspect or wholesale innovation. Or just iterative. That iterative skill of trying something, failing, trying something failing, until you succeed, is a hugely important skill to teach and the creative subjects like art are a good place to teach it.”
Finding or creating new things will have limited impact without the third key skill: communication. “None of these things have value if you can’t sell your ideas to your colleagues and your customers,” Tom said. “And whether you’re doing that visually or hourly or whether you’re doing standing on stage, or in the written word, it kind of doesn’t matter.”
3 skills essential to thriving in the future? Curation, Creativity, and Communication, says Tom Cheesewright (@bookofthefuture) based on his work with various organizations. A useful & inspiring part of the latest #SprinklrCoffeeClub pic.twitter.com/6yrwElBeR4
— Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) December 18, 2019
Tom’s vision of the organization of the future is closely related to this increased importance of communication. Check it out in the clip above or the full episode of the Sprinklr Coffee Club here.
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