Future Readiness

Future Readiness
a necessity, not an option

In the year 1859 Charles Dickens began his famous novel 'A Tale of Two Cities' with the immortal lines ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.’

This contrast between those who are future-ready and those who are not, is very stark today.

Compare the 2.3 million applicants for a government job, most of them graduates including some with Engineering and PhD degrees applying for a few hundred jobs as peons in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India (source: http://in.reuters.com/article/india-employment-idINKCN0RI0MH20150918) and a good number who have been successful in the world of IT and entrepreneurship.

In the same country (India), many of the technopreneurs belong to IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and owe their success to the future readiness of IITs in the 1960's, the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, which can also be linked to the 3rd Industrial Revolution.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is already here. It will be the biggest and most disruptive of all Industrial Revolutions and will profoundly affect us all. At the recently held annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Davos in the last week of January 2016, Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum released his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution… “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.” The book talks about the importance of shaping the future in the light of this disruptive change that we are all going to witness. (source: http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond)

Joe Biden, Vice President of USA in his key note at the same event said that every one needs to work to prepare our next generation to be ready for this 4th Industrial Revolution through Education, Training, Re-training and above all the use of Technology as it is Technology that is going to cause this disruption and the 4th Industrial Revolution. This holds true for every country in the world.

If we want our next generation to succeed in the 2020s and beyond we have to anticipate a future being shaped by emerging technologies of IT, energy, medicine and their intersections and convergences. Some part of this future can be anticipated and projected, but there will be disruptions along the way. We therefore have to prepare for a VUCA world.

Some important quotations from world leaders will be important to list here:

  • Robert J. Shiller, 2013 Nobel laureate in Economics and Professor of Economics, Yale University says “You cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance on it. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”

  • Pierre Nanterms, CEO of Accenture said “Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000”

  • Gary Coleman, Global Industry and Senior Client Advisor, Deloitte Consulting states “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is still in its nascent state. But with the swift pace of change and disruption to business and society, the time to join in is now”

It is clear that we need to be future ready ourselves and we need to ensure that our next generation too is future ready. Future Readiness is not about ‘may be’, but it is about ‘must be’. We don’t seem to have a choice.

Therefore, this quest for what is worth learning in an uncertain changing world, leads us to suggest that 'Life-worthy knowledge' and 'Timeless Life-skills' are the twin strands on which the DNA of the future is built.

There is a very appropriate quotation from Eric Hoffer “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”