Published 27 September 2017 Category: Business Insights, Workplace

10 Work Skills For The AI Era

As smart machines take over routine manufacturing and services jobs, there will be an increasing demand for the kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher-level thinking skills that cannot be codified.

We call these sense-making skills - skills that help us create unique insights critical to decision making.
Please note that no distinction is made between the skills needed by management versus staff.

Here’s the ten pack:

Boundless Curiosity
 Most creative people are insatiably curious. They ask endless questions, they experiment and note the results of their experiments, both subjectively and interpersonally. They keep notes of ideas, sketches, and quotes. They take pictures of objects that catch their eye. They correspond with other curious people, and exchange thoughts and arguments. They want to know what works and why.

Freestyling
As AIs and robots are expanding their toehold outside the factory floor, we are all going to have to learn how to play nice with them. Or, maybe said better, to use them to augment our work.

Emergent Leadership
Emergent leadership: the ability to steer things in the right direction without the authority to do so, through social competence. Critical skill is emergent leadership. Not the title, not a degree in management. But the ability to steer things in the right direction without the authority to do so, through social competence.

Constructive Uncertainty
The idea of constructive uncertainty is not predicated on eliminating our biases: they are as built into our minds as deeply as language and lust. Most important is to realise that we can’t counter our biases simply by becoming aware of them, any more than you can correct your vision by understanding how the lenses in your shortsighted eyes are flawed. So we have to accept at a fundamental level that we are inherently wired to be biased, and therefore we need to systematically resist the peculiar gravity of bias.

Complex Ethics
We are too quick to relegate ethics to the philosophers, off in ivory towers, and to leave ethics unexamined when discussing work skills. This actually means we are afraid to examine our ethics, because they are deeply buried, and strongly linked to our sense of self, identity and belonging. And deeply contradictory.

Deep Generalists
Deep generalists can ferret out the connections that build the complexity into complex systems, and grasp their interplay. We can’t be defined just by what we know already, what we have already learned. We need a deep intellectual and emotional resilience if we are to survive in a time of unstable instability. And deep generalists can ferret out the connections that build the complexity into complex systems, and grasp their interplay.

Design Logic
It’s not only about imagining things we desire, but also undesirable things — cautionary tales that highlight what might happen if we carelessly introduce new technologies into society.

Postnormal Creativity
In postnormal times creativity may paradoxically become normal: an everyone, everyday, everywhere, process.

Posterity, not History, nor the Future
While we need to learn from history, we must not be constrained by it, especially in a time where much of what is going on is unprecedented. Rather than learning the list of Presidents, or who won the Battle of Thermopylae (everyone’s seen 300, right?), we should instead cultivate the skills that come from reflecting on posterity, the future generations and the world we will leave them.

‘Posterity’ implies continuity of society and the obligations of those living now to future inheritors, a living commitment, while ‘the future’ is a distant land peopled by strangers to whom we have no ties.

Sense-Making
Skills that help us create unique insights critical to decision making.

These skills are not being taught, generally, or at least not in any sort of systematic way. At some point, the inevitability of these skills may change that.

There’s a small cadre of agitators shouting out that the times are a-changin’, but how far these voices carry, or if others can understand their words is perhaps proof that we need new ways to think about — and talk about — this rapidly changing world: we will have to find another voice.