During an age of mass economic disruption and customer reorientation, innovative leaders will wrestle not only with the challenges of reskilling existing work forces, but also must filter every initiative through politics, social chaos, and industry axioms if they are to add clarity to the Innovation Predicament.
As we think about the demands for reskilling of work forces, it is overshadowed by the movement of the Doomsday Clock now at 100 seconds—the closest time to midnight ever “posted” regarding the likely extinction of humankind. Why do I bring this up? It is about scaring the hell out of you, or as management consultants like to charge you for, “creating the burning platform?” Should reskilling even be a concern against the backdrop of huge climate challenges and caustic politics? With rising sea levels and temperatures, global famine, and unchecked populations, it would seem the time is nigh for anything except macro issues—and reskilling work forces is not consistently in the top 10.
However, unlike those “learned” individuals who contemplate the end of humans, I find myself increasingly contemplating the fate of unprepared humans—those who lack the skills and capabilities to survive the expansion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), or what some have coined “Industry 4.0”. We have an Innovation Predicament (report released February 2020) created by the rapid adoption of hyper accelerated innovation without understanding fully the ramifications and believing that all innovation is benevolent.
An intensifying challenge for reskilling of existing worker involves caustic local and national politics. Individuals are bringing their polarized beliefs and values to work with them resulting in management challenges previously not seen since the Vietnam War. As divisions grow progressively vemonistic across factories, offices, and universities, so do the challenges of adapting to growing digital demands by existing workers who do not have the required competencies. These political animosities spill over into delivery supply chains (e.g., partners, outsourcers) making it more difficult and expensive to serve the customer and recognize corporate profitability.
To reinforce these occurrences, from a recent poll (see Society for Human Resource Management), 59% of workers state that politics have become more of an issue compared to four years prior. Additionally, as the 2020 U.S. presidential elections draw closer, the dysfunctionality between working peers is anticipated to rise significantly as tensions come to the surface and divisive topics presented by candidates as “us versus them”. The demands for reskilling due to innovational progression are extraordinary—but so are the limiting factors inhibiting enterprise efforts.