Ted.com is one of the best internet resources I’ve ever come across for short, powerful and interesting inputs on a broad cross-section of topics that loosely fall into the categories of Technology, Environment and Design (TED). Most inputs have a future focus, and one of the themes I’ve often picked up on has to do with what we’ll need, as human beings, to compete in the future. Interestingly it’s not going to be only each other we have to compete against, it’s also going to be technology.
This is not unprecedented either. Over the last 200 years or so, many countries around the world have seen their workforce move from Industrial type activity to Service orientated activity. One statistic I’ve seen has the US population moving from a 98% industrial type workforce (1820) to just 2.5% (2000). There’s no doubt that technology’s new focus is in the service industry, as computers and machines take over roles people have filled. Call centers, processing departments, flying planes, medicine, education, tourism (think GPS and augmented reality), etc, etc.
So how do we compete? What will we do when technology replaces us once again? The response of many is that it will never happen, but it has before, and there’s no reason to think it wont again.
Dan Pink is a contributor at TED.com. If you’ve seen him on TED then you’ll know his talk on re-thinking rewards and motivation. I was recently alerted to another short input of his on YouTube, via a friend on Twitter (@MJH1004)
In this input, ‘Education and the Changing World of Work, Pink suggests that left brain activity has dominated the way in which we’ve worked up until now. Of course, those of us with dominant left brain abilities have succeeded in this particular paradigm. Technology, however, is stepping into left brain spaces, leaving a massive need for right brain abilities (it will be all that’s left for us to do). It’s our right brain that is creative, sees opportunities where our left brain doesn’t. People with dominant right brains are the most valuable in this new world of work, suggests Pink.
Dan Pink isn’t the only one suggesting this. Another great TED input (my favourite) is by Sir Ken Robinson (recently released his book, The Element) talking about whether Schools Kill Creativity. He makes similar points.
Of course all the right brained people smile a little at this thought. They’re the ones who struggled at school and university. They’re the one’s who’ve battled to get ahead in traditional business models. They’ve been on the fringe for a long time. Labeled as outsiders, the weirdoes, the dreamers, the impractical, the nice-to-haves when you’re smoking a doobee, but the not-so-nice-to-haves when you’re trying to run the world. The idea of an about turn on who’s valuable into the future is an attractive fantasy for right brain dominated people. Let’s hope they dream less about that day, and instead work out how they’re going to capitalise on it : )
Here’s Dan Pink on Education and the Future World of Work.