“When everything accelerates, you need to know quite a bit more than just knowing what you are doing!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
The moment when I shared the stage with Carrie Fisher at an HR event in Forth Worth, Texas.
Of course, she was better known. as Princess Leia of Star Wars. I felt bad for her though – at this conference, she wanted to talk about the challenges of mental health in the workplace, and many just wanted to hear about the iconic movie role that defined her. And as we all know, she tragically succumbed to the former just a few years later.
The quote? It’s from that instance when Luke Skywalker is about to go into hyperdrive, recklessly, and she expresses her worries…
Knowing a bit more than knowing what you are doing defines the modern-day HR challenge. Companies are in a situation in which they need to hire skills for jobs that do not yet exist in the context of a reality in which the knowledge for those future jobs is yet to be generated. I see it around me all the time: at this very moment, I’m working on an upcoming “Headlines” show in my virtual broadcast studio about the ‘chip shortage.’ What is clearly evident is that this is not just a supply chain problem – it’s a fundamental failure of automotive companies in lining up the skills they require to align to a very different, technology-oriented future.
The skills reality going forward for every single organization is captured in this observation I made in 2017:
“Companies that don’t yet exist will build products that are not yet conceived, based on ideas that have yet been generated, using materials not yet invented, with manufacturing methods that have not yet been conceived.
How are you supposed to align your skill’s capability to an unknown future? That is the dilemma that companies need to solve – but the challenge goes far beyond that because it is also a fundamental reality in the world of education today:
“You need to deliver knowledge that you aren’t yet aware of, for jobs that don’t yet exist, to a group of people who don’t know that they will need it. And you need to do it yesterday!”
The quote pretty well sums up my keynote in 2012, and captures the essence of the skills issues that exist everywhere:
- rapid knowledge obsolescence, and the rapid emergence of new knowledge;
- the disappearance of existing careers and the arrival of new ones;
- and the predominance of just-in-time knowledge.
Simply put, people need the ability to get the right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose. You can’t rely on simply knowing what you know!