Why today will set you up for tomorrow

‘The future depends on what we do in the present.’ Mahatma Gandhi

How do you feel about the future, right now?

  1. I am thinking forward to the next five to 10 years and planning for what is changing.
  2. I’m concerned about what’s next and its impact on my life and that of my family.
  3. I haven’t really thought about the future at this stage.

It’s OK, be honest. But I bet a high percentage of you haven’t really thought about how changes in your industry are already affecting you and your work.

The future, however, happens regardless of our industry, background, experience, role, age or culture. Historian Yuval Harari’s opinion is that anyone, any person, falling behind in today’s digital revolution will not be able to catch up.

So what does this really mean for you, your work, team, roles and responsibilities? Should you be worried?

A positive unknown

Having the skills, knowledge and understanding of how to deal with the changes that are coming (and in lots of cases, already here) will empower us to step up and into new roles, to explore the unknown and identify opportunities that will benefit us and our lifestyles.

This is the essence of future proofing.

Reinvention is the key to a positive present. We may need to look at reinventing ourselves in order to stay relevant. We may need to learn or update our skills. Technology can actually help us embrace this change and take action to set ourselves up for success, it is not something that necessarily needs to be feared.

This is about thinking big for yourself and exploring some very real methods of delivering the future that you want to live. But you need to look at this today, so you are ready for tomorrow.

Five areas to future proof

There are five key areas you need to explore in order to set yourself up for the future:

  1. What jobs we will have
  2. How we can remain happy at work
  3. Where we will work
  4. How we will work
  5. How we will be paid.


  1. What jobs we will have 

Remember when ATMs were introduced in the early 1990s and society predicted the closure of bank branches, prompting the end of face-to-face teller/manager relationships.

In fact, according to James Bessen, Economist at Boston University School of Law the opposite has occurred with more than four times as many branches open today and 10% more tellers. There is a trend towards humanto-human connection. What does this mean for you and your role? How forward-facing are you right now? Do you need to update some skills?

  1. How we can remain happy at work 

We do know with some certainty that emotional intelligence is seen as ever more important. According to a 2016 Deloitte survey on the top 20 skills required for work in 2020, the top three skills are all based on emotional intelligence:

  • oral comprehension (the ability to listen and understand information)
  • problem sensitivity (the ability to understand when something is wrong)
  • oral expression (the ability to communicate ideas and vision).

How do you think you would rate now? What might you have to work on?

  1. Where we will work 

Increased collaboration and innovation is important, as well as greater flexibility for employees, both inside and outside of the office. Workplaces that support both employee wellbeing and productivity is key. Will empowering others to work based on their particular styles and preferences boost happiness as well as the bottom-line? Are there changes you could start thinking about at work now to help?

  1. How we will work 

The Swedish company Epicentre recently embedded radio-frequency identification RFID chips in the hands of their 150 staff. These chips have the power to open doors, operate the photocopier and access vending machines, and have the potential to collect information on where team members are and what they are doing.

While this may seem an invasion of privacy, what advantages might this also bring when it comes to accountability? How could these chips help us instead of hinder us? Are you scared or excited by this prospect?

  1. How we will be paid

Already we see great flexibility being traded for dollars, such as salary-sacrifice benefits, working from home arrangements and working four days a week. Is flexibility set to become the new currency, or will there be something else?

While we may not have answers to many of the questions we are raising here (yet), I believe there are some things you can start doing now to help.


  1. Become your own Undercover Boss

When you’re new in an organisation, it is easy to see which processes are not working or need improving and updating. Being able to identify niggling inefficiencies and systems that have been ‘band-aided together’ has many advantages. Have the foresight to embrace this now, rather than when it’s too late! Question everything in your team and organisation with fresh eyes.

  1. Find the pain points in your business

Is it process, capability or capacity? Automate where possible now, and allow people to add value in everything they do from this point on.

You might bring different groups of people together to a) Find out what actually happens in a process b) See if systems work or not and c) Write the process onto paper to get others involved, using highlighters or ‘pink post-its’ (like me) to show where the pain points are along and then identify where priorities are.

  1. Hold everyone to account

You can only truly drive change through ownership and accountability. My philosophy is to be clear about the future direction of the business, commit to communicate this regularly and involve your people on the journey with you.

Above all else, remember what Malcolm X said:

‘Education is the passport to the future, tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.’


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