Education is Strategy

Ok, you’ve had a great strategy retreat, identified the major challenges and opportunities you see coming in the next five years. There will be many specific initiatives and roadmaps to build but the fundamental question is “how do we equip our workforce to deal with that future?”

The current wave of change coming at us makes this need abundantly clear. Machine learning services and AI assistants will sweep through the economy: aiding, changing, or eliminating every job. Computers are becoming programmable in English (and every other language). Information, predictions, optimization paths, and a dozen suggestions of how to do every task are coming to every worker’s information sphere, whether that revolves around a phone, cash register, augmented reality, or ambient computing.

In the next five years this force will sweep through innovators. In the next 10 it will be a constant pressure on companies to adapt or lose out. In 20 years AI assistants will be pervasive in the economy. Walmart needs to adapt just as much as Google will (and is). 

Companies are still catching up on the skills needed for remote work and the changed technology expectations of customers. How are they going to going to handle this next shift? By equipping their workforce with skills so that workforce can do the adapting themselves.

In 6th grade, an insightful school librarian drilled into my class that we were growing up in the information age. “You need to know some things but most importantly you have to be able to find information and to learn”. The shift for everyone now is similar: how to apply and guide machine intelligence to accomplish goals.

I know the bear market is top of mind right now for most executives and boards. However the companies that will lead their markets in the coming years are the ones thinking right now about their talent pipelines and how to maximize success for that talent. We don’t know what tactics will be needed and what key business decisions our businesses will need to make in the next five years. Experience tells us that our best planning is still going to encounter an ocean of uncertainty and changing circumstances.

My strategy for the future is to give my colleagues every opportunity to learn and upskill so they handle the coming challenges and opportunities better that anyone.

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