Daily Inspiration: Just-in-time knowledge – “Your ability to get the right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose for the right situation. That’s power!”


“‘Just-in-time knowledge’ – Your ability to get the right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose for the right situation. That’s power!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

This phrase bears repeating, over and over again:

“You won’t be replaced by an AI. But it’s pretty likely you could be replaced by someone using an AI!”

I went online yesterday with a short clip demonstrating the power of ChatGPT in accelerating the ingestion of knowledge. Give it a watch.

Here’s the scenario. I came across a long McKinsey report, “Generative AI and the future of work in America.” I was intrigued by the article and wanted to know what it might tell me, but was in a bit of a rush. Plus, being a futurist, I wanted to use the insight in the article to give me a prediction about what new jobs and careers might emerge in the future, and what existing jobs and careers might disappear.

Who has time to read this stuff?  There is so much happening with AI right now that I wanted to get the work done quickly. So rather than actually doing the work, I had ChatGPT do it for me. Watch it do this, live, in real-time, on the video.

For almost three decades, I’ve talked about the fact that if you want to get ahead in your career, you need to develop the skill of what I call ‘just-in-time knowledge‘ – getting the right knowledge at the right time for the right purpose. That’s my own superpower – I’ve got a variety of extremely powerful knowledge research tools that in effect, let me accelerate my knowledge development. As AI accelerates, I’m learning more.

Here’s what I did with ChatGPT in my live broadcast yesterday.

First, I asked it to read and summarize the McKinsey report, using a ‘plugin’ – that’s a bit of code added to ChatGPT which extends the functionality of this AI.

It came back with a list of the 10 key impacts of AI on our future. This summary would become the basis for my next question. In other words, I’m asking the AI to summarize some information for me, and I will use the AI summary to ask the next question.

I then went to my next question – using the information above, build me a prediction as to 10 types of occupations that are likely to disappear, and a list of 20 new future career and job opportunities. You’ll see where I typed in my query and then pasted in the above summary.

ChatGPT obliged, first with jobs disappearing:

And then, with potential new opportunities:

Pretty nifty, huh?

The thing is, I didn’t figure this out on my own – I saw the structure for the query from an AI engineer I follow on LinkedIn,

I’m spending time these days exploring all kinds of different aspects of AI – with a number of events coming up in the next few months, I’m hitting the stage running with deep, practical AI insight. I’m investing time in learning the fine art of ‘prompt engineering’ – a fancy phrase that has been coined to describe what it is we are doing when asking an AI a question. But it’s not just that – there are a number of different ways to use AI for knowledge generation. If you watch the rest of my video, you’ll see another example of another powerful tool – I had ChatGPT watch a half-hour video on my behalf, and then provide me a summary of what it saw. Powerful; stuff.

Years ago, I summarized the idea of just-in-time knowledge this way:

  • the ability to obtain rapid, instant knowledge generation is becoming an urgent necessity in almost every field of endeavour;
  • the ability to quickly digest, understand and assess new knowledge is an increasingly important skill – one that not a lot of organizations have mastered;
  • the ability to reformulate our thinking, assumptions, and capabilities to respond to the constant change being thrust upon our organization is of increasing importance

In a nutshell, I coined the phrase “just-in-time knowledge” over three decades ago to describe the nexus of these realities. In the world of hyper-change. I went on to write this:

Just-in-time knowledge involves a form of continuous learning that is instant, fast, and urgent. Think about situations where a need for JIT knowledge is evident:

  • Some estimates suggest that medical knowledge is now doubling every eight years. Rapid advances in new methodologies, technologies, treatments, and methods of care evolve at a furious pace. In such a world, medical professionals can’t be expected to know everything there is to know within their particular field of endeavour. The new reality going forward for doctors, nurses, and any other professional is that these professionals are increasingly forced to go out and obtain new knowledge, just at the time that they need it. The same holds true for pharmaceutical companies, medical device technology manufacturers, and anyone else remotely involved with health care.
  • Sales-based organizations are quickly discovering that furious rates of hyper-innovation in their marketplace require a sales force that is extremely adaptable, agile, flexible — and quick to understand the potential of new markets. If a product has a life of about six months in the marketplace, an organization can’t afford to waste any time in preparing to assault the market. The result is that there is an ever-increasing need for sales-based organizations to gain deep, rapid insight into the sales potential of a new product line while discarding the knowledge and understanding they have of the old product line.
  • Mechanical engineers continue to see rapid developments in manufacturing methodologies, as well as a need to quickly master the art of managing ever more complex global supply chains. With increasing sophistication and agility in the manufacturing process, every engineer involved in process automation must have the ability to quickly gain insight and intelligence into leading-edge issues associated with plant design, construction, automation, assembly, robotics, and all kinds of other complex topics.

Prior to AI, JIT knowledge was already a massive opportunity for those who could master it. Today? Arguably, it’s becoming a superpower.

Are you ready for the world of just-in-time knowledge?


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.