"It's easy Dad", said my son, "you just drag the command block down into the execute frame. Once you've put all the commands together you plug in the robot to the laptop and it automatically syncs to the Brain." He points to a smallish plastic block about seven centimeters square which is completely surrounded by a complex array of Technic Lego.
"Then you select the program on the Brain, and the robot does what you've told it to. Well mostly", he admits. "It never works perfectly first time so you have to keep trying until it works".
The robot in question is LEGO Mindstorm Ev3 powered by the same processor that drove the first rover on the moon.
My son is 10.
Welcome to the future of work
I'm learning (from my son) one of the top ten work skills required for the future: Computational Thinking. This is the ability to translate data into abstract concepts and incorporate it into our reasoning and decision making processes. Computational thinking is important because the future of work involves the integration of humans with machines. Programs like the Mindstorm and Scratch develop these skills in children. For us adults, we need to be a bit curious about how technology works. I doubt I'll ever be great at it but it's important to know enough to ask the right questions.
Understanding the skills required for the future will allow managers and employees to focus on career development. This will help to ensure their own employability through the major workforce changes that will take place in the coming years.
What other skills are required for the future of work?
There is a mountain of information about future work skills but one of the easiest to understand is research by the Institute for the Future at the University of Phoenix. They analysed the top 6 global trends and then identified the top 10 skills required to deal with these trends as they materialise. Computational thinking is one of these.
Two other skills that are particularly important for senior managers and executives are:
- Sense-making - the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed; and
- Social Intelligence - the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
For executives, these skills are critical as they lead in increasingly volatile and complex environments where the need to unite people is vital for the organisation’s success. I have met few executives who are aware that these are critical for the future and even fewer who are proactively developing these skills.
For HR professionals, these skills are critical in supporting business heads and team leaders in driving the desired business outcomes for both teams and the wider organisation.
While the best career advice I was ever given was to do your job well, we need to keep an eye on the future otherwise we may not have a job to do at all!
NEW ARTICLE: m-shaped replaces T-shaped careers
Knowledge obsolescence is a real fear. We read about the half-life of skills shortening and robots replacing jobs. No one argues that the workplace is rapidly changing and that we need to keep our skills current else we risk them becoming outdated. But how do we do so when the sheer volume of knowledge being produced every day is exponential and there are new ways of learning beyond the traditional formal study?