Uniquely Human is a strength

Uniquely Human is a strength

Technological change continues to accelerate. Automation is an increasing threat to employment. In times of such exponential acceleration it is important for us to consider and amplify what makes us uniquely human. Rather than trying to compete with technology, let’s explore ways in which technology can enhance humanity. What does it mean to be human? What are the implications for organisations trying to understand these complex times?

Here are a few of my suggestions for leaders and organisations that want to enhance humanity:

  • Spend more time creating and less time doing – allow time to play and develop new ideas. Going straight to action means your head is down…
  • Ditch the term ‘human capital‘ (many organisations have already done so) and talk about people as warm-blooded, real and uniquely human. Be empathetic and listen more.

Empathy is the key 21st century capability to balance the artificiality of the robot world. – Tony Ryan

  • Look deep into the bowels of organisational change. Change is complex and we all add to this complexity! There is no simple solution or list to follow. It is cognitively demanding, interconnected and not always successful.
  • Practise adaptive thinking. Learn fast and be prepared to pivot.

We cannot know our route before we set out; we cannot predict or control it; we can only discover it along the way. Working in this way can be both exciting and unnerving. – Adam Kahane

  • Explore the learning sciences.  Understanding these ideas is fundamental for ensuring that organisational talent is intentionally and consistently grown.
  • Don’t presume you can just hire some younger folks into the mix of your organisation and all will be well. Create the culture that honours their talents and makes them excited to be part of the team. Explore reciprocal or group mentoring.
  • Consider your strategic vision and direction rather than creating a plan too far into the future. There are many possible futures and it is your vision and values that will help you keep aligned. This short clip from futurist Gerd Leonhard, reinforces our role in creating our preferred future.

  • Scan the environment continuously rather than having one person or an ‘innovation department’ doing this thinking. Having an outwards mindframe is everyone’s job.
  • Realise that learning is immersed in everything, not undertaken in a special place or time of our life. This focus on life long learning is the feature of a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly. It is well worth checking out.

The future of learning is not in the classroom…it’s in the field

The growing importance of being uniquely human is one of the reasons my colleague, Hamish Duff, and I are running the Future of Learning. This series of events includes a one day conference focusing on how exponential technologies are changing the nature of learning and the implications for all organisations. Check it out at at https://futureoflearning.nz/

Dahl Robertson · January 26, 2018

I have re-read this article a few times now and each time I enjoy it more.

Such a simple statement but my favourite; “Practise adaptive thinking. Learn fast and be prepared to pivot.”

Thank you

    Cheryl Doig · January 28, 2018

    Thanks for your feedback Dahl. I agree that adaptive thinking is critical. It also means that we must be prepared to change as the environment changes and to realise that we are part of the system. Everything we do impacts on those around us – positively or negatively.

Jon Keelty · October 12, 2018

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about having an “outwards looking” organisational mindset! It can’t just fall on one or two shoulders – especially if those shoulders are in the leadership group! Great thinking here, Cheryl!

    Cheryl Doig · October 14, 2018

    Thanks for your comments Jon. It is really important to learn the art of environmental scanning and to be prepared to look to the fringes. Being comfortable inside your own filter bubble can lead to blind spots and irrelevance.


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