Upskilling to drive growth in times of uncertainty

Someone asked me recently, how many times I have reinvented myself and my business, throughout my long and stellar career. I found myself hard-pressed to accurately share the actual number. It seems that, for me, reinvention became a really useful and rewarding habit, especially as it forced me to upskill, to successfully and continuously adapt to the constant barrage of changes over my past thirty years in business. Noting that upskilling to drive growth in times of uncertainty requires all of us, no matter our ages, qualifications or set of experiences, to master the social, emotional, and technological skills required to co-create human and machine interactions in the new economy that is emerging in our virtual and connected world.

As advanced technologies automate our world in so many ways, the demand for both “digital” and “human” factors is driving growth in the professions of the future. Making reinvention, through upskilling to drive growth in times of uncertainty, a key critical success factor. According to the World Economic Forum – Jobs of the Future Report, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating demand for millions of new jobs, with vast new opportunities for fulfilling people’s potential and aspirations. Requiring upskilling people in what McKinsey calls the â€œsofties” consisting of the â€œsocial, emotional, and technological skills” that are becoming more crucial as intelligent machines take over more of our physical, repetitive, and basic cognitive tasks once the C19 pandemic ends.

Crucial social, emotional and technological skills

The report goes onto state paradoxically:

“On the one hand, these reflect the adoption of new technologies—giving rise to greater demand for green economy jobs, roles at the forefront of the data and AI economy, as well as new roles in engineering, cloud computing, and product development. On the other hand, emerging professions also reflect the continuing importance of human interactions in the new economy, giving rise to greater demand for care economy jobs; roles in marketing, sales, and content production; as well as roles at the forefront of people and culture”. 

According to McKinsey, over the next ten to fifteen years, the workplace will be transformed through the adoption of automation and AI technologies, as people increasingly interact with ever-smarter machines. That these technologies, with human-machine interaction, will bring numerous benefits in the form of higher productivity, GDP growth, improved corporate performance, and new prosperity. It is also expected to change the skills required of human workers, requiring them to upskill in learning how to co-create human and machine interactions.

McKinsey also predicts an increase in demand for social and emotional skills across all industries, as much as by 26 percent in the United States and by 22 percent in Europe. Upskilling to drive growth in times of uncertainty, includes empathy, advanced communication, entrepreneurship, and initiative-taking skills as the fastest-growing, with a 33 percent increase in the United States and a 32 percent rise in Europe.

Higher cognitive skills

They also predict a big shift in the demand toward higher cognitive skills, including creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing. With a growth factor, by 2030, of 19 percent in the United States and by 14 percent in Europe, from sizable bases today.

Reinventing and upskilling to drive growth in the new economy

This provides opportunities for everyone to reinvent themselves and upskill, in these domains, as well to maintain their professional presence and business relevance. In a world where we will be required to co-create human and machine interactions as a means of securing a sustainable future, and to survive and thrive, through the uncertainty and exponential changes that are coming at us, faster and faster.

New ways of working together

McKinsey also predicts that the need for leadership, teaming and managing others will also grow strongly, requiring everyone to cultivate these vital and highly impactful skill sets. Where a new imperative, is emerging in our increasingly complex, chaotic, networked and mechanistic world, for everyone to be a leader and to lead.

Because knowing how to co-create human and machine interactions mean upskilling to drive growth in the new economy. Through upgrading our collective capacity, confidence and competencies across the people and the technology functions.

Enabling people to:

  • Live and adapt to chaos, complexity, and uncertainty and enable others we work with, to do so.
  • Share information, experience, and knowledge, in ways that elevate people and teams, through genuine empathic and compassionate partnerships.
  • Teach, train and coach individuals, groups and teams to cultivate innovation agility to deliver value and become fit for the future.
  • Educate and build innovative new enterprises, cultivate entrepreneurship, initiative-taking and deliver customer-centric solutions.
  • Lead across three-time horizons: sustaining business as usual, innovating for tomorrow and developing foresight for the future.

Creating the conditions to co-create human and machine interactions

Knowing that people may resist, avoid and fear these changes, because of the cognitive dissonance that changes causes, it is crucial to create the best, most supportive conditions, that engage and enroll individuals, groups and teams in upskilling to drive growth in times of uncertainty, especially now, that many of us are bound to working from home.

To build their collective capacity, confidence, and competencies, across both people and technology functions, to intentionally manage an effective interface between people and technology.

Enabling people to:

  • Communicate effectively, and use constructive conflict to maximize differences and diversity and generatively solve current and future business challenges and problems.
  • Collectively and collaboratively engage in delivering purposeful and meaningful work.
  • Develop teams of collective leaders, across boundaries, demographics, time zones, technologies and stakeholder groups and build collaborative ecosystems.
  • Continuously learning and adapt to accelerating changes in technology and changes in workforce requirements in an automating world.

Reinvention and Reskilling are opportunities to upskill to drive growth in times of uncertainty

A wise person once said to me, that unless we are learning faster than the environment is changing, we will quickly become irrelevant and redundant, in a chaotic and disruptive world.

The C19 pandemic is offering all of us the time to pause, retreat, reflect and reboot our lives in becoming relevant in a hyper changing world.

Where there are possibilities and opportunities to play bigger, more co-creative, collaborative leadership and collective games that truly add value to people in ways they appreciate and cherish.  By helping retain and reskill talent, to help and support facilitating reinvention processes that will ultimately maximize sustainable human and machine interactions and their impact in the virtual world and the new economy that will emerge post C19.

Join the next free monthly innovation webinar in our Making Innovation a Habit Series – “Improving organizational performance in a disruptive VUCA world through developing a future-ready culture.”
It’s on Thursday, 23rd April 2020 at 8.00 am Sydney & Melbourne, & on Wednesday, 22nd April 2020 at 11.00 pm London, 3.00 pm San Francisco & 6.00 pm New York & Toronto, Canada.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting May 26, 2020. It is a blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business through uncertainty in the digital age.

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Janet Sernack

Janet is the Founder of ImagineNationâ„¢ a coaching, education & culture consulting company who leads the way and helps businesses achieve their innovation goals by challenging businesses to be, think & act differently to create a world where people matter & innovation is the norm.




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