Emerging Signals On The Future Of Work

While the world continues to navigate the challenges of a global pandemic, discussion of a post-pandemic future is ramping. The future of work is a dominant piece of that post-pandemic discussion. There are still more questions than answers, but the signals are flying. Three recent articles focused on distinct pieces of this future: Performance, Identity Economy, and Making a Hybrid Work model. The article on performance highlights the pandemic as catalyst and accelerant. The need to rethink how we view performance was clear pre-pandemic – but mostly not acted upon. The events of the last 15 months may be driving action.

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Global Technology Governance

Strawberries. Simple enough for farmers to grow, but can they do better? That is a question that a smart Agriculture Competition in China attempted to answer. Four technology teams competed with farmers over four months to grow strawberries. This Article by Victoria Masterson describes what happened next: data scientists produced 196% more strawberries by weight on average compared with traditional farmers. It is not surprising, given that vertical farming using intelligent sensors and AI have shown the possibilities. As we witness this rapid pace of innovation, we see the potential for human development (in this case food abundance), but also the likely unintended consequences. These Two Paths have historical precedent, as every great period of invention has followed both paths. After all, fire provided light, warmth, and food, but also burned down villages.

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Post Corona: From Crisis To Opportunity

“I begin with two theses. First, the pandemic’s most enduring impact will be as an accelerant. While it will initiate some changes and alter the direction of some trends, the pandemic’s primary effect has been to accelerate dynamics already present in society.” – Scott Galloway

That is a quote from a book I just finished. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he teaches brand strategy and digital marketing to second-year MBA students. In his new book, he looks at the world post corona. The book titled “Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity” has been added to my Book library. He points to remarkable things that have happened since the virus reared its ugly head, like: It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value, and 20 weeks to accelerate from $1 trillion to $2 trillion (March to August 2020), and we registered a decade of ecommerce growth in eight weeks. Additionally, Tesla became not only the most valuable car company in the world, but more valuable than Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Honda combined.

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Life After Coronavirus

In this brief video, several experts talk about life after the global pandemic. Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, and his colleagues set out to answer this question: what will our post-COVID-19 world look like? I tackled that question early in the pandemic by looking at Applying History to our current day. Mr. Najam interviewed leading thinkers on 101 distinct topics and produced a video series which you can find Here.

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Accelerating Towards Automation

The acceleration of automation is not a direct outcome of the pandemic – it is simply more visible now. That visibility is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrible several months. The inequities that exist in the world are now more visible. The lack of preparation for a digital future has exposed those who did not see the need. In the case of automation, it was going to accelerate for a number of reasons, but the pandemic will Accelerate the Acceleration. One clear reason that this decade will see a massive investment in automation is the fall in Working Age population. Said another way, it is getting increasingly difficult to find skilled resources.

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COVID-19: The Great Reset

I just finished another very good book and added it to my Book Library. COVID-19: The Great Reset was authored by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret. Professor Klaus Schwab is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. He has argued that a company must serve not only shareholders but all stakeholders to achieve long-term growth and prosperity. To promote the stakeholder concept (something gaining considerable traction today), he founded the World Economic Forum. Thierry is the co-founder and main author of the Monthly Barometer, a succinct predictive analysis exclusively provided to private investors and some of today’s most influential opinion and decision-makers.

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Dealing With Loneliness And Isolation

At a Milken Institute Health Summit in 2017, I participated in a panel discussion that focused on effective methods for healthier aging on a vast scale. One of the key discussion points was how Loneliness and Isolation were a leading cause of death among the elderly. Here in 2020, that concern has been amplified by the pandemic. During that panel discussion, I mentioned the use of companion robots to deal with this growing crisis. As society continues to age, the problem of isolation and loneliness grows more acute.

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Covid-19 Leaves Its Mark on Real Estate

Shopping malls are an example of the lasting impact that the global pandemic is likely to have on real estate. If the surge in online shopping represents a new normal, then what is to become of all those malls? In a recent Article, author Parija Kavilanz explores that question. According to data from research firm (REIS) Moody’s Analytics, the rate of mall vacancies is at a historic high of 9.8% in early September, exceeding the previous peak of 9.3% in 2011.

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Virtual and Augmented Reality Likely To Accelerate

In early 2019, I described the Three Focus Themes for the year. They were Acceleration, Convergence, and Possibilities. Little did I know that one of those themes would factor so prominently in 2020. In a recent Presentation, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas – a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm – describes 2020 as the year where forces already in play experience a great acceleration. One of those forces is mixed reality.

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Travel In A Post-Pandemic World

There was a lot going on in the world of travel prior to the pandemic. The emerging Mobility Ecosystem built on a foundation of innovation promises to disrupt this space as the decade progresses. The visual describes some of what lies ahead (click to view in a separate window).

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Strategy Looks Very Different In A Fast, Complex, And Uncertain World

In a recent Article, author Greg Satell describes strategy in a post-Digital world. Michael Porter positioned Competitive Advantage and dominating value chains as the foundation of strategy. Like many of our institutions and ideas, multiple forces are pushing that view into the dustbin of history. Two key forces are the shift to horizontal ecosystems versus vertical value chains, and technology cycles outpacing planning cycles. I have written extensively about Ecosystems and their impact on the value equation. Maximizing bargaining power among suppliers, customers, and new market entrants gives way to value-sharing scenarios where all participants in an ecosystem win.

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The Pandemic Is Impacting Multiple Domains

As we have seen over the last several months. COVID-19 is impacting multiple domains. I had explored the Possible Implications across these domains in a post earlier this year. The visual below reflects some of that work (click to enlarge). Now months later, we see indications of potential paths or responses.

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A Glimpse Into Your Views On Catalysts For Change

As I mentioned in a recent Post, the global pandemic has altered how we think about our world. However, one thing is constant if not amplified by it: society needs to act if we hope to shape a future that advances human development. The rapid pace of innovation – riding on antiquated institutions – required our attention pre-pandemic. In a post-pandemic world, both of those factors are amplified. The inadequacies of our institutions are more visible now than ever; and innovation that may have unfolded over years is realized in months.

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Revisiting The Catalysts Of Change

Seems like an eternity has past since I first launched this Poll on the catalysts that drive human action. As I mentioned back then, one of our Lessons from History was the presence of catalysts that drove actions that ultimately shaped our future. The major catalysts of the second revolution were astounding levels of innovation, World War One, The Great Depression, World War Two, and the eventual democratization of innovation. The question I asked in the poll was: What catalysts force stakeholder actions that ultimately shape our emerging future?

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Accelerating Towards A New Energy Paradigm

My Post yesterday revisited the intersections that shape our future. Convergence across multiple domains sets these intersections in motion. In this context, convergence refers to a virtuous cycle where events in one domain spur action in another. The great inventions (electricity, telephone, and internal combustion engine) were clustered together at the end of the 19th century, forming a virtuous cycle that drove a period of astounding innovation. Several Catalysts drove an enabling convergence across the economy, science, technology, business, geopolitics, and a broader set of societal issues.

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Considering The lessons Of History

In exploring a Post Pandemic Society, I first took a look at what we could learn from history. A recent article took a similar view. Written by Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal, Their Look Back at History explores the experience of Japan, the United States, and Western Europe, post-World War Two. The article explores the inclusive growth that was sustained for two decades following the war. As technologies developed for war were adapted for peace-time use, poverty, government debt, and inequality fell, while living standards improved and prosperity spread broadly.

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The Passion Economy

In 2014, I had this to say about the trend of putting a word in front of the word economy and declaring a new era: Something Economy: seems like a popular trend – stick a word in front of economy and use it to describe the next big thing. Some of these words are: Peer, Maker, Sharing, Gig, Collaborative, Green, Circular, Mesh, Digital, Innovation, semantic, and more.

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The Future Of Work: Outcomes, Trust, And Empowerment

As the world focuses on a global pandemic, remote work has been a popular topic. As reported by Brian Fung, Google just Announced  the extension of their remote work policy to July of 2021 – an acknowledgement that the pandemic could be with us a while. Siemens decided to make their policy permanent, but as this Recent Announcement indicates, their approach is very refreshing. Following in the footsteps of others, Siemens is adopting a new model that will allow employees worldwide to work from anywhere they feel comfortable. The permanent standard allows employees to leverage the new model for an average of two to three days a week. This article by Justin Bariso focuses on the refreshing part of the announcement, reflected in this quote by incoming CEO Roland Busch:

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The Great Acceleration

This research on the likely acceleration driven by the pandemic is a must read. Per their Website, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas is a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm whose partners and principals have decades of political and policy experience. The presentation is U.S. centric and a little heavy on politics. However, it captures many of the issues that are converging across multiple domains (business, society, science, technology, environment, philosophy, economics, and geopolitics). I believe it captures one of the most impactful aspects of the current COVID-19 crisis: the acceleration of forces that were already in play. It is a quick walk through of the following topics:

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The Future Of The Office And Changing Work For The Better

Can we ever go back to the way things were? That’s the question Manon DeFelice asks in a recent Article that explores the return to the office. The article provides some interesting insights. For instance, about 62% of Americans say they have worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Gallup Poll. A majority (59%) of those individuals say that remote work would be welcome post-pandemic. One of the concerns often stated about remote work is the impact on productivity. Well, Ms. DeFelice shares results from a YouGov Survey that found 54% of professionals ages 18-74 felt that working from home has had a positive impact on their productivity.

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