It has been only a year since my last visit to Unleash, but in terms of the workforce revolution that we’re witnessing and experiencing, this time span is an eternity. So much has been changed, as clearly stated by thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and many of my colleagues in the field of People Analytics and HR-Tech, who gathered again for two days of networking and learning, and this time – in Paris!
When I planned my visit (and I really did! Spontaneously is not the best policy in an event with 250+ speakers, 200+ industry vendors, and 100+ start-ups!), I decided to focus on themes that will enrich my conversations with local HR practitioners, in the learning sessions that I run in Tel Aviv. Naturally, the chosen themes include new case studies and experiences in the field of People Analytics. But since the entire landscape of HR-tech, and the reconfiguration of careers and work, both pave the journey of People Analytics, I decided to further explore those broader domains too.
And so, this blog, and the following three blogs, cover my key takeaways from sessions and demos, and organized by the aforementioned themes: This 1st blog is focused on broader topics of future of work; the 2nd blog covers new technologies for career paths; the 3rd is grounded on People Analytics practices; and the 4th summaries insights about the digital transformation of HR. In all four themes, I tried to listen mostly to new speakers, or a least new to me. Therefore my key takeaways include many new and interesting players in our professional community.
Earn to continuously learn
My intellectual journey into the future of work started with the keynote speaking of Heather E. McGowan, Future-of-Work Strategist. McGowan discussed the preparation for jobs that do not exist. We are fortunate (or unfortunate, depends on your point of view) to face the greatest velocity of change in human history, driven by an exponential technology change and rapidly expanding globalization. Humans are also expected to live much longer. Therefore, we’ll experience more cycles of change. The bottom line is that the future of work is learning and adaptation. Our career identity won’t be centered around a single occupational function or industry anymore. We’ll define ourselves less by jobs and more by purposes.
Practically, what does it mean? The measures of success are about to change, from “codified and transferred predetermined skills and existing knowledge” to “learn and adapt to create NEW value”. In the past, we used to learn to earn, but in the future, we’ll work to continuously learn. The validation of our success will move from the external to the internal, or in McGowan’s words: we will move from bestowed identity to self-actualized identity. It is challenging for people who are currently working, as we stand at the border of these two realities, one leg is still in the old world, and the other leg already touch the ground of the new world.
The hidden layer of your learning iceberg
People define themselves by three questions: Who? (gender, age, religion, etc.) What? (education, occupation, expertise, etc.) and Where? (human relations and populations). The answers to these questions are tremendously changing, research reveals. Add to that the change in jobs due to automation and augmentation, and you’ll have a completely new career map, in which you have to learn and adapt. However, learning and adaptation are like an iceberg, according to McGowan. You see only the upper layer, which is the skills for which you were hired and part of what makes you better at your job. Underneath, and out of sight, are your agile learning mindset, your resilience, and your purpose. All of these have to do with your identity.
It is crucial to ask ourselves not only about applying gifts and current purposes to present job opportunities but rather about personal drivers, interests, and unique abilities. We should start to explore the hidden layers of the iceberg. Can we do that? And how X gen workers reach their agile mindset for learning and adaptation?
A life journey to crystallized intelligence
While fluid intelligence reaches its peak at about the age of twenty, according to intelligence research, crystallized intelligence is at the top when you reach your sixties! I remember that I was very encouraged to learn that in my Psychology studies more than twenty years ago. Obviously, it encourages me even more now. People get better in many abilities as they get older, e.g., concentration, reading emotions, learning new information. Critical thinking, complex problem solving, and creativity may also rise as you get older. These compatibilities are so relevant to collaboration, which guarantees the learning in modern teamwork. As long as you offer, as a manager, both psychologically safe environment, and cognitive diversity. But that’s how future value will be created.
I considered McGowan’s vision a positive one. I’m an eternal student and already transformed my career about five times. So personally, I look forward to such a future of work. However, the exponential technologies that are transforming industries, organizations, and every aspect of our lives, may have negative implications too. So naturally, a part of my interest in the following demos and sessions was technologies that are enablers of McGowan’s vision. And so, I explored many tech solutions and case studies, that validated my opinion that career path and mobility are important trends in HR-tech. I cover it in Part 2 of my key takeaways from Unleash Paris 2019.