A few weeks ago, I coached my ex-staff member on career management. He started his career in accounts payable (AP) about 15 years ago and has gradually grown within the industry. He enjoyed the work and having spent so much time on developing a career in the said area, everything was so easy for him – especially solving issues. Creativity at its best? Not really! Because here’s something he did not expect – Replacement! He was replaced by the most unexpected contender – technology.
A month ago, the company decided to automate the entire AP process. With the new systems, tools, and procedures, there were reduced human touch points, resulting in layoffs. He was asked to leave. A new job was the order of the day and creativity at its best was the demand for further action. Frantically, he started applying everywhere, and to make the situation worse for him, other companies were ahead in automation and were not looking for the profile he was holding.
During our conversation, he introspected multiple times and realized, he himself was responsible for this situation. Here’s how:
Does all of this sound familiar? You may think you are immune to such problems, but the reality is very different. It is a matter of time- some are being impacted now, and some will be affected in the future. With the future of work well and truly upon us, how can we prepare for jobs that don’t even exist yet?
We are facing unprecedented challenges – be it social, economic, environmental, or technological developments. These changes are providing us with a number of new opportunities. Yet, there is one crucial thing we need to remember – the future is always uncertain, and no one can predict it. This truth may be our friend or our foe, depending on how we approach it and whether we approach it in due time or not.
While meeting the challenges of the future, we need to be open and ready for it. To navigate through these uncertainties, one will need to:
Adopt Behaviors that can prepare you for the future work and ensure that your skills remain relevant and in demand. These behaviours will help us with future jobs. Firstly, focus on soft skills, innovation, communication, influencing, and stakeholder management.
While technical expertise will continue to evolve, specific soft skills will remain for most jobs in the future because the human abilities can’t be imitated by technology, like the ability to connect with people and form relationships, willingness to learn, and respect for the ideas of others.
There are a few essential skills and here are a few that I have placed on top of my list:
Innovation/Creativity: When we were children, the creative juices were squeezed from our brains slowly and as we got older, the left brain started to dominate with logic until we lost our power of creativity. To get back the right brain thinking, we need to become like children, where we simply get curious, accept information without, and listen to everyone’s point of view.
We have billions of nerve cells in the brain, neurons keep connecting with each other, typically known connections will happen fast and happens because of our memory, past experiences. Whenever information is transferred to mind, it forms a particular pattern. If you ever felt stuck unable to solve a problem, not able to think of a solution or come up with an innovative idea, this is mainly due to the brain’s inability to form new patterns.
For the brain to develop a new design or to find creativity, one needs to be in a calm state (not to activate the reptilian side of your mind which is inclined to a fight or flight mode). You would also have to expose to a new environment, experience, knowledge or skills. I am sure you always have a brilliant idea during a shower or while driving, this is because the mind is at a calm state and some new experiences, places, must have been exposed to brain shortly before it can go to few days prior as well. Once you make a habit of exposing yourself to something new often, you can practice this exercise to get some innovation or creativity to your problem-solving process and outcome.
One of the simple exercises anyone can do is ro ask more questions. When we shift our focus to ask as many questions as possible, then we are able to see the problem differently. For example, low sales for the month. Here’s how you can create a question chart to fuel creativity:
The list can go on. In fact, the more, the better; it is not necessary to answer all the questions, just by asking questions in as many ways as possible, one will start to connect the dots and see things differently and eventually get insight.
Creativity and innovation are essential because these factors make problem-solving an exciting and fulfilling process. Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extraordinariness of the simplest, most everyday acts.
Enjoy learning new skills and make yourself foolproof against future digital trends.