The world is changing incredibly fast today. I have talked frequently in previous articles about the rate of change we are going through in various industries, businesses, our economy and society at large. The pace of change is being bolstered not just from a global pandemic, increasing geopolitical volatility, financialization, globalization but primarily from technology. It should be abundantly clear in 2020 that the modern world is changing far faster than our capacity to adapt.
We need to start asking serious questions about how we holistically build back better in not just America but throughout the rest of the world as well for my international readers. How do we build back better in terms of building sustainable and flourishing businesses and economies where more people can have a better work-life balance, autonomy, upward mobility and high-paying jobs/work, how do we build back better in terms of solving pressing climate change and sustainability concerns, how do we build back better in terms of addressing mental health and making people happier and spiritually satisfied whether that comes from themselves, their work or their communities.
Although I am quite pessimistic short-term because of the sheer scale and magnitude of what we are going through mentally, spiritually, socially, politically, economically/financially, and in terms of climate change and our deteriorating planet, I remain an optimist long-term and think that within the next few years we will all be able to build back better with much greater resilience and wisdom. That is because we are all learning very quickly and being shown the cracks in the modern world and we also have certain resources and tools today that if used correctly, decisively and ethically we will be able to rebuild much quicker.
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The Information Technology revolution we are going through is at the core of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Bold maverick entrepreneurs are disrupting or reinventing industry after industry at breakneck pace and many previous job functions are very quickly becoming automated, or obsolete. New industries are also being spun up incredibly fast today because of a confluence of factors from the exponential growth in computing, digitalization, business model reinvention from disruptive entrepreneurs, and an abundance of venture capital flooding new industries.
The coronavirus pandemic has only vastly accelerated these trends or the big shift we are going through as a society in terms of adapting to new technologies and the new world order we are being forced to rapidly adapt to. Many previous jobs or industries may not come back and it is clear that we are entering a new era of uncertainty, tremendous volatility, and steepening pace of change.
Two of the biggest drivers of massive change are that digital transformation is not only here to stay but is only growing exponentially each day as every industry becomes redefined or reimagined over night. The other one is that we need to go through a human transformation also and put people at the center of our economy and technology. We need to become more purpose and passion oriented and have more empathy and compassion for one another. The modern world does feel very scary sometimes and lets not kid ourselves it is becoming brutal everyday for a lot of people just to survive and it should not be this way.
A few things need to happen at a breakneck pace over the next few weeks and months. Millions of people need to be digitally reskilled or upskilled so that they can move from jobs or industries that have been disrupted because of the confluence of the pandemic lockdowns and digital transformation that is putting more pressure on all of us. However, that is just tactically. I believe people need to start thinking alot more fundamentally about the changes we are witnessing however, because many of them are only permanent.
I think the biggest things we need are also a human transformation. We need people to emphasize certain human traits more also such as critical thinking, problem-solving, compassion, and morality because our problems are growing rapidly and without the ability to understand them, solve them, and without the wisdom of compassion and morality we won’t know how to operate in the brave new world we are entering.
One of the biggest problems is that our education systems are outdated for the modern world and the digital age we are living in. Most education does not teach people how to think critically or think independently but only to follow instructions. Jack Ma, the Founder of Alibaba gave a really impressive speech about why this is a massive challenge in today’s world.
The other thing is that we should look up to problem solvers like Elon Musk and how they view the world, solve problems much quicker, learn and decide more efficiently and advance humanity. Michael Simmons talks about the mental models that these titans of industries use and how they think about the world. Most people specialize and dismiss generalists and creatives however, generalists and creatives are actually becoming far more valuable in the modern world.
It is more important to have a first principles understanding of the world, greater emotional intelligence, and independent thinking as well as mental models in todays world. In other words its important to be a generalist and creative rather than just a specialist or siloed. That’s because our world is much more globalized and digitalized so our problems are becoming much more complex and multi-disciplinary than ever before. And also because the abundance of information availability in today’s world is creating accelerating cycles of knowledge decay. In today’s knowledge economy, where knowledge is abundant and digitized, but human wisdom, sense-making, creativity and problem-solving are all scarce, there is a premium for there these human skills now more than ever as robots and AI handle the rest of the annoying work.
This is because the internet changed everything and disrupted all of the structures of the past hundreds of years in a matter of a few decades, and now we are all feeling the gravity of the changes of information technologies and digital transformation all around us. Tech companies are becoming the most valuable companies in the world, we are all hooked to our screens and the way we live our lives today is much different than anytime in human history in terms of the quantum of the entertainment and, information we have available today. The way we do business and with it, societal norms in general are changing and shifting faster than ever before. Gary Vaynerchuk was one of the first ones who started to really warn everybody of the magnitude of the information revolution we were going through mainly in the context of social media platforms and social commerce.
These human skills have always been available, but the premium put on them for most of human history was unfortunately minimal because people were too task-oriented. Now however, with the accelerating pace of the internet, digital transformation, automation, artificial intelligence and tech intensity, I think it will become more important for people to become mission or purpose oriented. Because technology will replace the need for labor and task completion but will free us at the same time to think about the bigger picture, I believe the premium will be raised on how to use different tools and technologies creatively with human ingenuity to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. So the need for complex and creative problem-solving, will become much more valuable now than at any other time in human history for the forseeable future as digital technologies advance and as our problems also grow in scale and scope as a species.