Vikas Singh Baghel is Associate General Manager- Talent Acquisition, Centre of Excellence at HCL Technologies and has the global responsibility for the talent sourcing strategy – designing and communicating HCL’s talent story and brand, attracting quality talent through the right sourcing channels, within desired time and investments to fill HCL’s talent needs around the world, delivering impeccable stakeholder and candidate experience. Find him on Linkedin here
The brewing discourse that unprecedented technology advancements in the recent past may result into massive social upheaval than bringing positive impacts in our life and work is quite intimidating. While the jury is out on that question, the leaders likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are also continuing to stick around two ends of spectrum on this, debating for and against on this subject.
Further, the media hype around potential job losses in IT and other technology intensive sectors have also been adding up to already brewing gloom in market place. While the situation isn’t novel but is a usual cycle for any disruption with this magnitude. History suggests whether it was industrial revolution or computer advent, initially we had naysayers who pitted these against human existences and livelihood, only later these became normal ways of life and if anything these inventions have augmented human potential to do more and better.
Today, the question isn’t about what side of debate you are in, but what are you doing in your capacity to be future ready, regardless of which side wins the debate? In my personal opinion with limited knowledge on the subject and little functional experience, situation demands less hype, no over engineering but some common sense approach to tackle this in 3 simple ways:
#Learn – Manage the present more efficiently
The word ‘Optimization’ has suddenly some sort of redemption in corporate vocabulary, not that it was ever out of the scene but certainly it has taken centre stage in boardrooms and creating quite a tremor in corporate corridors. Therefore, the first ask is definitely to do more with less and then leverage technology to manage present more efficiently and effectively to stay afloat. Only piece of advice as right put by one of my HR leader is “lets guard against risk of being rupee wise and dollar foolish” while working on optimization agenda :).
#UnLearn – Selectively abandon the Past
At times, one needs to grow beyond his strengths in order to get better at other things. Forgetting is difficult because things we might have to forget will still have some values attached. We have enough examples of this in business history. Case in point is Apple iPOD, which was highest selling product at one point but Steve Jobs decided to launch iPhone knowing fully well that it will erode iPod revenues. He had courage to cannibalise one highly valued product to create another with great conviction of changing the world and rest is history as they say.
Getting to future is about courage and taking steps when you may not have all the answers.
On the other hand, Microsoft manages the present very effectively, with windows and PCs but never reach to abandoning stage and create an alternate, only if they would have realised much earlier that PCs revenue will likely to decline with laptop and other disruptions story could have been very different. In the last decade, growth charts of these two companies barring recent revamp in Microsoft seals the argument here.
In a way our future weakness is embedded in current strengths and that is precisely why forgetting is difficult yet very important. In case of cannibalization, there will always be some strain between old & new with very high cost/bearing of inaction (for example Nokia, Kodak and many). The question remains, “Whether the constant future is important or mere existence today”
#Re-Learn – Creating the Future
Given what we are experiencing, I strongly feel, the statement ‘We live in changing world’ understates both speed and scope of change we’ll encounter in near future. Well, change isn’t only confined to technology anymore but whole demographic shift world over is adding up to this transformation. Therefore, it is not possible to do crystal glazing on what would future workforce be like, 5 years from now, certainly nothing like it looked 5 years ago. There are enough reports and articles on how top 10 jobs today didn’t exist 5 years back and that’s where constant learning and being abreast with change ensures ‘survival of the fittest’. One’s ability to adapt to change and proactively make changes in one’s career is what can make a crucial difference to where one can potentially find oneself in years to come. Learning content is not a variable anymore. Mobile phones alone can facilitate more information that what can be processed in one’s life time.
We tend to seek refuge into basics and avoid situations & challenges where we might fail or are forced to learn something from scratch. Generally, everybody says I want to learn but actually most of us do our best to avoid such situations and look for comfort space. This strategy may work for a while but it doesn’t prepare us to adapt to future that may require new set of mind maps. Constant state of adoption is key to succeed in new normal and it requires continuous questioning. Most of all Learning agility is key and ‘relearning’ what is now relevant for our job, our industry, our career and our life will pave the way for surviving in this technology onslaught and ever changing environment.