An Uncertain World, an Unknown Future, and Extreme Unknowns
We live in a world with extreme uncertainties. With technology accelerating at a breakneck speed and disrupting familiar patterns of living and working, businesses, governments, professionals, and students alike have to be prepared for a future of great unknowns where the only constant is change.
In other words, we can no longer take for granted what happened previously and what is happening in the present to continue happening in the future. For instance, in our parents’ generation, it was common for them to have a single job for lifelong employment with guaranteed benefits and pensions.
However, for the Millennials and the Gen Z, it would be a blessing if they had a full time job given the advent of the Gig Economy and the emergence of freelancing.
Moreover, even for the Gen Xers, having a single job throughout their lifetimes is no longer the case as can be seen from the shifting employment patters and the changing nature of work. In addition, those who are graduating now can expect automation and robotics to displace many of the established professions with the result that their education and degrees would become redundant in no time.
The VUCA World and How to prepare for it
Turning to businesses, it would not be an understatement to say that whatever strategies that they have planned for the future might very well be discarded within a quarter or at most a year as technological acceleration reduces the time to market as well as disrupts existing market demand and supply.
So, given all these uncertainties, how can businesses and professionals hope to succeed in the future and face the future with confidence?
Before answering that question, it would be pertinent to note that there is a term known as VUCA or the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity model that governs our lives wherein volatility means that each day is different from the previous one and we can expect radical change as soon as the day begins.
In addition, businesses have to be prepared for uncertainty which means that their best laid plans are no longer taken for granted.
Apart from that, given the complexity of the modern business landscape, simple solutions no longer suffice and instead, businesses have to come up with strategies that have in built complexity in them.
Lastly, ambiguity means that businesses and professionals can no longer count on situations presenting before themselves that are simple and instead, have to deal with nonlinear responses.
The Kal, Aaaj, Aur Kal Metaphor
A good strategy for businesses would be to study the past, be mindful of the present, and be ready for the future.
While history is sometimes an unreliable guide especially in the context of the radical present, it is also the case that there are precedents for what is happening now wherein gut wrenching disruption is similar to the one that our ancestors experienced during the Industrial Revolution.
In addition, it is always better to live for the moment so that one is not distracted by the “noise” and one can separate the “signal from the noise” as far as preparing for the future and living for the present are concerned.
After having a sense of what happened earlier and the lessons learnt from it, one can apply such learning to the future and at the same time be mindful of the present wherein even little changes can cause maximum disruption.
To borrow a phrase from Bollywood or the Indian Movie Industry, Kal, Aaaj, Aur Kal, should be norm wherein we look behind, look ahead, and mind one’s step in the present. This calls for balance and poise that are sometimes missing in our chaotic and frenzied lives.
How to Remain Relevant and Not Let One’s Skills Become Redundant and Obsolete
After elaborating on the template for action, we can now discuss what professionals such as you and I can do. To start with, build savings, invest for the future, and review past spending and saving patterns so that one can have something to fall back on.
Working professionals should not lose touch with the latest events and happenings in their industries as well as be out of date as far as the latest management theories are concerned.
This can be done by either enrolling in evening or part time refresher courses as well as visiting sites such as these for the latest insights into the world of business and management.
Moreover, students who are graduating in the next few years have to start early and this can take the form of having their institutes invite guest speakers from the cutting edge firms to give talks and elucidate on their experiences in dealing with change.
A key aspect of preparing for a future of extreme uncertainty is to keep upgrading one’s skills constantly and continuously so that they do not become obsolete just when the students are preparing to join their careers.
Having said that, there is only that much that one can do to prepare for the future and hence, one must also remember that come what may, one has to be maintain one’s balance and poise so as to not fall into the trap of complacency.
Indeed, in times when what happens overnight can radically alter the present and give rise to a more unpredictable future, there is no harm in merging spirituality with contemporary business management so that meditation and mindfulness can provide the much needed balance and calm that is needed in this hyper stressed and uber competitive world of ours.
To conclude, the skills that you acquire now can become useless in no time and hence, it is also a good idea to apply timeless wisdom so that you are always in the reckoning.