Times are changing. New technology disrupts industries, companies, products and services as we know them. Your professional skill set is under attack as a result. Most will react in a very human manner – defending their position “as is” the best they can. This strategy will not serve you well.
This year’s theme at the World Economic Forum in Davos, was “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution” (also called Industry 4.0). Central in this revolution is the way data and thereby information spreads around the globe instantly – both in speed and breadth. This poses new challenges for the way we live, study, work, operate our businesses and public services, run our governments, etc. Klaus Schwab, the engineer and economist who is the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said the scale, scope and complexity of this transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced.
Here in Norway, we have seen our most important and fairly financially steady oil industry plunge, and highly educated and skilled people (mostly engineers) loosing their jobs as a result. There is not one single reason why this change happened, however technological developments (for example the introduction of the electric car) is partly to “blame”.
So, what to do when times are changing and people are loosing their jobs as a result? It is only natural to think that laying low is the best plan. Well, it is not. You should do the complete opposite.
Here´s the plan I think works best:
- Say yes when asked. In times of change, people who say “yes” when asked to do new things and take on new responsibilities without necessarily being asked to do it, are the ones who thrive. By taking on things you haven´t done before, you will learn new things.
- Take charge of your own learning development. We are all becoming more and more responsible of learning new things in this changing world. Do not sit around and wait for your manager to tell you what to do or send you to a new training course. Seek new learning situations and ensure you constantly develop new skill sets. Here are some tips I wrote earlier on how to start gaining an understanding for digital developments.
- Question how things are done. Dare stick your neck out and ask questions, and understand why people do what they do. Never take something for granted. If you don´t understand something fully, or are wondering why something is as it is – then ask! Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily activities and getting better at what we are doing, but what is it worth if we are doing the wrong thing? Here are some tips on some of the questions you might want to use to get the brainpower in the room going during meetings.
- Stay true to your passion. You will make it a lot easier for yourself if you stay true to your professional “passion” and where your natural skill set lies. You will have the drive to learn new things in that specific area, and will also have the necessary clout you need to convey to others that your newly gained insight/ideas within the matter is worth listening to.
- Envision the worst scenario possible. We are naturally caught up in a belief that when we plan to do new things, we should know already upfront that they will become successful. This thinking often stops us from doing something differently. By thinking “what´s the worst case scenario that may happen?” you may discover that the worst case scenario (if the project fails) might not be so bad after all. The you may actually dare to start a new project with an uncertain outcome.
Personal risk taking – who has the stomach for it?
There are several personal risk assessment tests online – like this one from Human Metrics, where you can actually find out whether you have the personality for risk-taking.
I had to test it out, and I scored as a moderate risk taker. I think that is about right. High risk-takers sell all their assets to start their own business. Moderate ones ensure they still have a base to live on, but seek and embrace uncertainty. If you score amongst the lowest, you might want to find out how you can “piggy-back” on people who score higher. They need support on their projects, and diversity in teams are always better to ensure a successful result.
I have written an article earlier on how you can become and entrepreneur within your organization (intrapreneur). You might want to see if those advice can make it easier for you to start looking into how you can do things differently at your job.