A while back I read an article by Tom Peters about how the changing nature of work is both a big problem and also a big opportunity (Financial Times, August 26, 2012). In it, I found a couple of Tom’s statements to be rather confronting:
“Generic “brain-work”, the traditional and dominant white-collar activities that now employ the bulk of us, is increasingly undertaken by exponentially enhanced artificial intelligence applied at ever increasing speed.”
“The educational infrastructure must be upended to underpin support for the creative jobs that will be more or less the sole basis for employment, economic growth and wealth creation”.
As I thought about this, I realised that over the past ten years, we have witnessed some dramatic changes in our work environments. Almost every update of software for the various business systems we use brings with it more automation and integration, meaning that many of the things that people used to do are now being done by computers. At the same time, outsourcing and/or off-shoring of jobs has occurred in many sectors, e.g. IT, customer services, finance, accounting, manufacturing, marketing, sales, HR, L&D, etc., etc.
While Tom’s article was targeted towards the US, it would seem to me that the things he describes apply to all developed economies. The bottom line here is that the workplace is changing; it is becoming more efficient in terms of cost-savings and revenue generation. For businesses and corporations, both large and small, this is a matter of survival. For those of us who work in the businesses and corporations, it can be a time of upheaval, uncertainty, and even ‘displacement’.
One of Tom’s messages is that creative jobs will be a key part of the future, i.e. being creative is something that people can still do better than computers can. However, for many of us, creativity is not necessarily something that comes easily. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that in many nations, over the years the education systems have not fostered the development of creativity amongst students. While this may be changing, for those of us who were educated in this way, we need to find ways to develop our creative skills.
My first free nugget is a short video (1min:50sec) that I came across towards the end of last year:
29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE. I personally love the creativity behind the video – and I can promise that you will not be bored. Here are two links that I have found for the video:
http://vimeo.com/24302498 (HD .mp4 file)
I will continue further on the creativity topic in my next post. In the meantime, enjoy the free nugget.
Coming next: Creativity – it’s about having wild ideas
It also turns out that back in May 2000, Tom Peters authored a Time Magazine story titled “What Will We Do for Work?” In this he wrote: “I believe that ninety percent of white-collar jobs in the U.S. will be either destroyed or altered beyond recognition in the next 10 to 15 years.” The three causes that he identified were: “destructive” (game-changing) competition; technology/artificial intelligence; and outsourcing. It seems like Tom’s predictions are right on schedule.
Link to Tom Peters’ Financial Times article:
Note: the FT site requires a free registration for access