Shaping Your Tomorrow – forward thinking to be future ready
By HENRY KWOK
The exponential pace of change in this VUCA world will disrupt the way we used to do things more than before. A case in point is the humble advent of WWW and internet in the 1970s. It has revolutionised the way we live, work and connect with others in less than fifty years. Technological developments, especially those in the field of digital innovations and AI, will be creating more disruptive changes.
These are what some have observed:
• An educationist warned that “Technological disruptions are coming at us very rapidly and what we learn today may be obsolete three to five years down the road.”
• An education chief in OECD suggested that schools are up against a big challenge. They need to prepare students “for jobs that have not yet been created, to use technologies that have not yet been invented and to solve social problems that we don’t yet know will arise.”
• Singapore is taking bold steps to make the transition between study and work as seamless as possible. These include sending students on extended work stints, getting more of them to learn directly from practitioners in class as well as fostering closer partnerships between institutions and industries.
These observations were well thought out. Can we avoid what we know today from getting obsolete? Our knowledge will become obsolete only if we stop learning new things. Can we get train for jobs that are not created to match technologies that have yet to be invented? Training of hard skills will not be adequate as these skills can get redundant. We need to emphasise on soft thinking skills as well. Can job attachments help students be ready for jobs yet to be created? Job attachment that focuses on current skill set requirements will be inadequate as these skill sets can go outdated by new jobs that require new skill sets.
It is futile to make short term changes for the sake of changing. We need to shift our focus beyond HOW and WHAT have to done to include WHY we are doing what we are trying to do. It is not the form but the substance underlying the change we want to make.
We cannot prepare for the future and make appropriate changes without a road map on how the future may unfold. We will be navigating into the unchartered landscape of the VUCA world – an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. We may not be able to make accurate prediction. However there is nothing to stop us from getting get insights on how the landscape of the future will shift and change. These insights can provide the platform to become future ready.
We need to think forward into the future to anticipate what and how the future will be and respond accordingly.
Forward (or Future) Thinking replaces short-term thinking. It is not crystal balling to predict the future. It is to gain insights on the possible future. It is about reviewing a spectrum of possible futures and deciding what are desirable. These insights can provide the basis for informed decision-making to address possible challenges and to capture possible opportunities. It is about starting conversation on formulating policies, strategies and actions to attain the desirable outcomes and more importantly to shape our tomorrow.
Forward Thinking adopts a variety of methods – qualitative, quantitative, normative, and exploratory – to highlight possibilities and to compare options. It looks beyond immediate constraints, existing attitudes and frameworks for change in the longer term. It can create an atmosphere for informed decision-making by sustaining the balance between short- and long-term policy goals and smoothing the transition toward a positive future.
Most training initiatives consist primarily of short-term efforts to solve immediate problems or improve efficiency. This approach tends to look at the past and immediate present. Forward Thinking seeks to address this issue by shifting attention forward into the future.
It seeks to clarify and deepen understandings of the dynamics of change in communities and organisations. It prepares the individuals to meet the challenges of tomorrow by making strategic decisions, not merely to reform but to reinvent.
PS this article was written on the need for education to take a more forward look into the future but the contents can be applied in Long Term Planning