More Automation is Coming! Bulletproof Your Career

Guest post
from Edward D. Hess:
Everyone knows
that jobs have been automated over the last 20 years. But the number of those
automated jobs will be a small number compared to what is coming over the next
10 years. The continuing advancement and convergence of artificial
intelligence, bio-technology, nanotechnology, virtual and augmented reality,
quantum computing, and Big Data will automate millions of jobs in the United
States. Not just manufacturing jobs but also service jobs, knowledge-worker
jobs and professionals.
predicts that by 2030, over 25 million jobs in the United States will be
automated. Research from Oxford University predicted that within 15 years there is a high
probability that 47% of U.S. jobs including professional jobs will be
automated. How
will you stay relevant in the workplace? What can you do to become bulletproof?
I believe we
humans will need to excel at doing something valuable that the technology
itself will not be able to do well. There are four uniquely human skills that
currently meet that criteria:
1. Emotional Excellence: Being able to emotionally connect,
relate, and collaborate with others in positive ways that can result in
caring-trusting relationships that enable you to have high-quality making meaning
conversations with others that create or deliver value will be a key human
differentiator. Being able to manage one’s emotions; generate positive
emotions; and be highly sensitive to the emotional state of others will be
important human skills.
2. Thinking Excellence: Being adept at being able to think differently
than the technology with the agility to move back and forth between those different
ways of thinking: exploring the unknown and seeking novelty by being creative,
imaginative, and innovative; engaging in higher-level critical thinking; making
decisions in environments with lots of uncertainty and little data; and
excelling at sense-making and emergent thinking.
3. Exploration Excellence: Excelling at having the courage to go
into new areas – the unknown – and to explore and discover the new and the
different by using low-risk iterative learning processes is the third key human
skill. It requires overcoming the fear of making mistakes and in most cases
effective collaboration with others and overcoming our reflexive habitual ways
of thinking.
The science of
adult learning shows that our brains and minds are generally wired to be efficient.
We reflexively seek confirmation of what we expect to see, feel, or think; to protect
our egos; and to strive for cohesiveness of our personal stories of how our
world works. We are creatures of habit and operate much of the time on
autopilot. All of that inhibits Exploration Excellence.
To stay
relevant in the workplace we will need to “rewire” our brains in order to:
·        –  Seek
out novelty not primarily confirmation, affirmation, and cohesiveness:
·         – Actively
seek out disconfirming information that challenges our beliefs;
·        –  Ask
questions that lead to exploration and discovery (e.g., Why? What if? Why not?);
·         – Defer
judgments in order to further explore and discover;
·         – Embrace
differences and to make meaning of differences;
·         – Embrace
ambiguity by not rushing to the safety of making comfortable, speedy decisions;
·        –  Excel
at “not knowing” and Hyper-Learning: continuous learning, unlearning and
Those three
skills are all enabled by the fourth skill:
4. Self Excellence: Excelling at managing how you think, how
you listen, how you handle emotional stress and the challenge of needing to continuously
adapt at the pace of change requires managing your ego, your mind and your
emotions. The desired result is “Inner Peace”approaching others and the world with an internal quietness or stillness, which I define as being
fully present in the moment with an open and non-judgmental mind and a lack of
self-absorption with limited stress and fear. That helps you remove internal
noise and distraction and helps you align your inner world—your mind, body,
brain, and heart—so you can better engage with the outer world in the pursuit
of excelling at the above three skills. That state of being enables Emotional
Excellence, Thinking Excellence and Exploration Excellence.
We human beings
will be in a continuous race in the workplace to stay ahead of the advancing technology.

Are you
Edward D.
is Professor of
Business Administration, Batten Fellow and Batten Executive-in -Residence at
the Darden Graduate School of Business and the author of Hyper-Learning:
How to Adapt to the Speed of Change
, which will be published by
Berrett-Koehler in August, 2020.