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FLINT Future of Work conference takeaways

Updated: May 3, 2020

The afternoon was packed with topics about the future including our identity, health, education, leadership, privacy, and new ways of working.

We all know the world is rapidly changing. Technological breakthroughs and innovations mean we’re changing at an unprecedented rate. But, we’re just getting started.

Jesh MacDonald (Spark) shared an image that sums this up. The changes of the past decades have been immense, but will be nothing compared to the ‘crazy as all hell’ period that’s coming.

So, how can we prepare for a change that’s both incredibly rapid and incredibly ambiguous?

Here are my top 5 takeaways from yesterday afternoon:

1. Mindset > Skill set

21st century skills are ones that are much more transferable and people based, such as:

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Ability to learn

  • Growth Mindset

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity

  • Resilience & grit

  • Influencing

  • Agility and adaptability

Companies are increasingly looking for people with the right mindset recognising that skills can be taught. The skills we need in the workforce will change, but having the right attitude, beliefs, and ideas (mindset) will help you manage these changes.

2. “Treat yourself like an app”

Great call-out from Vanessa Oakley (Chorus).

Apps are constantly evolving to meet customers’ needs, improve user experience, and implement new features. Therefore, app developers are continuously exploring, developing, testing, and iterating their apps. There’s never a final product; things can always be improved.

Much like an app, we should always view ourselves as a work in progress. As new things emerge, we’ll need to adapt and strengthen what we offer to others as well.

We can do this by exploring new areas we are passionate about, developing new and better ways of working, testing new concepts and ideas, and iterating our skills.

In order to do this we need to invest in ourselves. Spend the time, energy, and resources needed to make sure our offering is what people need.

3. Passion is the key

Rohan Wakefield, founder and CEO of Enspiral Dev Academy spoke about the importance of passion.

In high performance teams, passion was the #1 thing leaders were looking for. This is closely followed by the ability to learn.

Take for example the software developersbeing trained by Enspiral Dev Academy. In 3 years, 80% of what they learned will need to be replaced. While many of us are lucky that our learning turnover is not that high, as times change, so must we.

A passion gives you a reason to keep learning and to work toward mastery. In the rapidly changing landscape finding our passion is critical. If we don’t have passion for what we do, then investing in ourselves to keep up with the times, becomes exponentially more difficult.

Rohan’s call to action was to “find something you believe in, that’s meaningful to you and valuable to others.”

The way Rohan spoke about his own work showed he’s incredibly passionate about what he’s doing. Can you say the same?

4. Set up your organisation so you can respond to your customers’ needs

One benefit of current technologies is the ability for individuals to get their voices heard. This puts more power than ever into the hands of customers.

Organisations are increasingly aiming to become more agile and responsive to their customers’ needs. There’s more focus than ever on customer experiences.

But, to understand this means you first have to know your customers. And in traditional organisations the people who know the customers are very rarely the ones making decisions about the products.

Therefore we need to rethink traditional top-down hierarchies (hallelujah!) and empower the people ‘on the ground.’ Enter: The Agile project methodology and business agility.

In a nutshell, Agile solutions evolve throughout the development process based on customer feedback. This is accomplished through cross-functional teams that collaborate to develop, test, deploy, and iterate their solution with their customers.

(We’ll be covering Agile extensively in future blogs, so I’ll leave this here for now.)

5. The parallels between our privacy and the environment

The final panel session focused on the personal cost of these technologies – the erosion of our privacy. Privacy is about your ability to control your identity.

Kate Pearce (TradeMe) made a wonderful analogy comparing our privacy and the environment.

As individuals:

  • No single decision we made has led to the current debacle we find our data privacy or the environment in.

  • We are the ones who bear the consequences of these decisions.

  • We hold very little power to change our privacy or environmental laws for better protections.

Collectively, however, we have the power to make a difference through influence. An example of collective influence and technology is The Christchurch Call, where NZ has brought together countries and corporations worldwide to influence social media change.

Another parallel between privacy and the environment is our personal accountability. While individually we don’t have the power to change the system, we’re personally accountable for how we interact with it.

  • For the environment, that covers things like not littering, or reducing our meat intake.

  • For our privacy, that includes things like monitoring what we post online, and how we interact with companies.

The only certainty we have about the future of business is that it will be as ‘crazy as all hell’. But we can thrive if we develop a growth mindset, invest in ourselves, follow our passions, and respond to our customers.


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