Have you seen the video “Did you know: Shift happens” ? This is quite old now but I still vividly remember first seeing it 5 years ago when I was teaching for a living. As teachers we were asked what we were doing to prepare our pupils to be ready for the changing world of work, when we knew that some of them will be working in jobs that we can’t even conceive at the moment. Technologies that aren’t invented will provide their employment, solving problems that we currently cannot define.
I’ve had a few minor technology irritations shared with me over the last few days, all around social media technology. My teenage daughter this morning described her frustration at recent changes to Snapchat that have altered the way she has to post information. A new client, reviewing their business Facebook page was puzzled at some posts that had been added onto his page without his knowledge (and consent). Regular LinkedIn users have complained about the removal of the products and services sections of their business pages, when the designers simply removed copy and content that they had lovingly added over the last couple of years. It’s this lack of control over what we see as our own personal property that upsets and unsettles us.
Yesterday I had a meeting with two directors that were facing many challenges as they changed their business. Expansion would mean hiring several new staff, new IT systems, marketing and selling new products to new groups of customers, new premises and buying new technological equipment. Naturally their emotions were mixed; excitement at the new challenges and possibilities but with reservations and a little fearful about rapid changes to their business. In this example, the directors did have choices before them, it’s not compulsory for them to change anything, but they could see that that success in managing the process would bring more financial security in the long term.
On a larger scale, economists have been grappling with the recent changes to the UK workforce, with so many people now working as self-employed rather than employed. They’ve been asking whether this is likely to benefit the UK economy as a whole. Yesterday’s headlines voiced concern about zero hours contracts and whether businesses flexible workforces (good) resulted in job insecurity (bad for the economy). Today’s headlines include reservations about whether our largest and most innovative companies should be allowed to change so easily from UK to foreign ownership.
So back to my teenage daughter, who loves and embraces the instantaneous social world of Snapchat and grew up surrounded by fast changing technology. Watching the video, she found the idea of exponential change quite thought-provoking, yet instinctively, emotionally, feels scared at the same time. It’s her comment “We’re living in a mad world” that heads up this blog.
Perhaps it’s comforting to know that, whatever this mad world throws at us, and whether we embrace the challenges with love or with loathing, our human reactions and human nature remains the same. We always have a choice. Do we embrace change, plan for change and get excited by its possibilities in our personal or business life or do we simply grumble and bear it? Yes, change can be frightening, but it can also bring new variety, excitement, enrichment, fulfilment and, occasionally, fun!