Talking About Tomorrow: Four Questions

February 12, 2017

Last week I announced a new research project focused on gathering insights and ideas from a wide range of smart people (that is, almost everyone I know, plus many of you who I don’t know – yet).

There are four questions I’m asking everyone I know these days – and that includes you:

 

  1. What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?
  2. What are you most uneasy about?
  3. What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the way we work and live in the next five to ten years?
  4. If you could change one thing about the way you work right now, what would it be?

I am pleased that I’ve already received thoughtful responses to those questions from several people, including Robert Buss, Graham Jervis, Bob Leek, and David Fleming. You can read their  responses, posted on my blog last week, at this link: “Let’s Talk About Tomorrow

I also received an extremely thoughtful personal email from Rick Fullerton, PhD, who resides in Fletcher’s Lake, Nova Scotia. Fletcher’s Lake is across the Bay of Fundy and about 300 miles east of Bar Harbor, Maine. That’s almost as far from the San Francisco Bay Area as anyone in North America can get!

Anyway, here, with only minor editing for clarity, are Rick’s responses to the Four Questions:

Jim:

As a long-time subscriber to The Future of Work Agenda, I am happy to offer my thoughts on today’s questions. I hope you find the comments useful.

1. What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?

  • The advances in real-time connection and collaboration over time and space combined with more powerful data processing offer the possibility of increasing inclusiveness, diversity and in turn, higher quality decision-making. My response to your questions is a good example today.
  • Education and access to information promises higher performance by individuals, groups, organizations… and maybe countries and the world.
  • As I have been learning from The Future of Work, we will see more energy efficiency as people continue to work remotely rather than commuting to a physical office.
  • At the same time, I anticipate more local/rural ‘small businesses’ able to grow and succeed in an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly manner. These businesses will be human scale, where people have high quality of life within face-to-face communities.
  1. What are you most uneasy about?
  • Technological power outpacing or divorced from face-to-face human values of compassion, virtue, good will, generosity, and honesty. We need to increase our internal capacity to match or exceed our ability to influence the external world.
  • Failure to consider the future consequences of actions – e.g. climate crisis, resource depletion, pollution, wars.
  • The potential for business, like governments, to end up with Trump like people in power.
  • The pace of change may overwhelm individual, team or organizational capacity to cope/learn.
  • Will we have the will or ability to slow down – or will ‘change’ accelerate until the system self-destructs
  1. What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the way we work and live in the next five to ten years?
  • Big data – and the power to gather and act [that comes from] social media and the on-line presence of ‘everyone’
  • Yesterday I read an article about the use of ‘big data’ capability mining social media to analyze voter characteristics to enable micro-targeted political campaigning. This was given as the way Trump was elected.
  • 1984 is here… when a very few, very powerful people can gain and maintain such power the implications for business and society are of great concern.
  1. If you could change one thing about the way you work right now, what would it be?

I would like to work from defined hours – e.g. 8 to 4, rather than being connected 24-7. There is an old saying: “Good fences make good neighbours.” The message is that when we erase boundaries, we lose focus, deplete effectiveness and experience fatigue.

I find myself in basic agreement with Rick’s world view, and in particular his concerns. In fact, I am currently working with my colleague Susan Stucky on a chapter in a multi-author book about leadership in the digital age that is being produced by a group of us who are partners at FutureWork Forum.

All of us engaged in that project are deeply concerned that “digitization” is changing our work and life experiences not only more rapidly than we can absorb, but also in ways that most of us do not understand and many of us don’t like.

Stay tuned; I’ll be sharing other responses to those four questions, and I encourage you to add your own thoughts below in the Comments section, or in a direct email to me, at jim@thefutureofwork.net.

All I want to do is help the world create a future of work that works. Let’s talk about how to make that happen.


Don’t face the future alone. Jim Ware is a workplace futurist, author, and meeting design specialist who has invested his entire career equipping organizations to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Contact Jim today to learn how his workshops, keynote presentations, and expertise in orchestrating powerful conversations can put the future to work for you. Or call +1 510 558 1434 right now to schedule a free 20-minute conversation about bringing the future to your work.

© 2017 by The Future of Work…unlimited. All rights reserved.

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