The Role of Humans in the Future of Work

This past July, McKinsey published Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet),an article on its automation study, which examined the technical feasibility of automating 7 different occupational activities. (The results are presented as a percentage of the time spent in these activities that can ben automated by current technologies):

  • Predictable physical work in e.g., manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, food service: 78% automatable;
  • Data Processing, e.g., billing, payroll processing, bookkeeping, insurance underwriting, delivery route optimization  69% automatable;
  • Data collection, e.g., customer and product info, maps and addresses, health insurance claims, 64% automatable;
  • Unpredictable Physical work  e.g., construction, trash collection, agriculture: 25% automatable;
  • Stakeholder interactions, e.g., customer service, personal financial advising. patient care: 20% automatable;
  • Expertise in decision making, planning, creative tasks, e.g., scientific and technical services, goal setting, education leadership,: 18% automatable;
  • Managing others, e.g., management, law enforcement, social services, educational: 9% automatable;

While there are other factors involved in what is automated and how much of a particular job can be, this data, along with a myriad of similar reports on the future of work, clearly demonstrates that there is a large amount of work that humans currently do that will be done by machines in the near future.  Jobs will disappear, others will be radically changed, and there will be new jobs needing new skills.

Last week, posted AI is Disrupting Everything and These 3 Industries are Next that discusses how some of these changes are happening already.

So what does this mean for Learning and Development professionals?  How do we prepare individuals and organizations for a world that is changing this radically, this fast?

Ross Dawson, a futurist who writes and speaks on the impact of technology and social networks, has developed a Framework: The role of Humans in the Future of Work in which he differentiates what work will be done by machines in the future and what will remain uniquely human.   Expertise, Relationships, and Creativity are the broad catchalls that define the capabilities that Dawson sees as uniquely human.  The framework also addresses the structure of work.  Many of these concepts are part of every day conversations amongst L&D folks:

    Machine-human complementarity
    Fluid work roles
    Location independence
    Serendipitous connections
    Job sharing
    Emergent collaboration
    Continuous learning
    Analytics feedback loops
    Aligned values
    Diverse perspectives
    Ad-hoc networks
    Internal work markets
    Culture of participation
    Mutual trust development
    External work ecosystems
    Open peer communication

I believe the L&D community is aggressively driving the items I’ve highlighted in blue through various initiatives like communities of practice, social learning, working out loud, personal learning networks, learner-generated content, collaborative learning, 70:20:10, personal knowledge mastery, etc.

While the challenge that we are faced with is daunting and will create a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety in the workforce, I believe that our profession is poised to lead the necessary change to adapt to the future of work.

I’d love to hear your perspective on all of this.  Please comment below.

#WOLWeek Day 1 – Share a Purpose

Michelle Ocker’s Day 1 post alerted me to the fact that Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek) is 7-13 November 2016. I’m using it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.

Working Out Loud is one one of the practices being promoted to make social and informal learning more effective.

The seven actions for the week:


Day 1: Share a Purpose – Instructions

Choose some purpose that is important to you to make the focus of your #wolweek efforts. This purpose may be delivering a great outcome in a project for a group of stakeholders or it could be a personal ambition in your life or your career.  The purpose doesn’t have to be something big but it needs to be something that is worthwhile for you and others to pursue.  When you have chosen the purpose, share that you are working on it with some relevant stakeholders.

My goal for this week is:

Layout a plan of action that will guide me in building a non-technical expertise in the new xAPI standard for interoperability of learning data.

Tne xAPI standard in being developed by The Advanced Distributed (ADL) Learning and rolled out by DISC (Data Interoperability Standards Consortium).  xAPI is short for Experience API.  It is also known to many by its original project name Tin Can API  It will “replace” SCORM  over time. Continue reading “#WOLWeek Day 1 – Share a Purpose”

Transforming: Story-by-Story

I’m sitting here on a rainy, but warm, October morning in Chicago after 3 whirlwind days at the Training Learning and Development Conference (#TLDC16) in sunny San Diego.  Unlike any professional conference I’ve attended it centered around the conversations and stories of the participants.  The presentations and vendors were in service of those conversations not the focus of the event.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good.  But it must be passionate.” – Brian Fanzo

Even before the announcement in May that I was going to be laid off in June, a path has been appearing before me.  Stone by stone.  The end of the path is shrouded in mist and fog.  When I was afforded the chance to attend TLDC, I jumped at the opportunity, trusting that this new path stone was stable and the direction I was supposed to be going. Continue reading “Transforming: Story-by-Story”

Workplace Learning is about Performance

In a wonderful post sharing the work that she and her colleagues at Coca-Cola Amatil (Australia), Michelle Ockers outlines the changes that they have instituted to build a stronger bond between work and learning.

The primary shift was to seeing L&D as part of the performance support initiatives.

See Michelle’s full blog post at: How we Modernised our Learning and Development Model, Mindset and Capabilities