2020 is not even a decade away. So, we should make an attempt to think how our life would be then; we can be better prepared to face the future. Though the future remains uncertain and our times are volatile, we should nevertheless rake our heads and hearts to crystal-gaze.
We can see how internet and social media have changed our lives. News travels faster than ever before, people feel increasingly comfortable by tele-presence, decisions get taken fast and course-corrections happen still faster, life cycle of everything has shortened, emotions are finding newer expressions and our climate changes have been rapid as well. While two countries have fought tooth and nail over issues like borders and principles, there is absolutely no love lost when it comes to another set of issues like trade and commerce, art and culture. We have fast cars and superfast lanes while there are clogged roads. We have heights of riches as well as scores of poverty. And so on… There is a lot of simultaneity or co-existence of opposites. I think, 2020 will see higher intensity of this dichotomy. We need to be comfortable with many shades of grey. People, young and old must be able to stride two (many?) boats at the same time. This calls for tremendous agility in soaking in the information from various sources, understanding them and communicating. Our schools and colleges need to prepare the students well to be more agile and communicative than ever before. Our workplaces need to push the younger workers to stretch their imagination and capability.
Now, let us look at the changes happening around us in terms of their volumes. Think of number of news channels, number of emails we receive, phone calls we make, number of social media profiles we maintain, number of passwords we remember, holidays that we take, discussions we participate in, road trip or flights that we take, shopping trips we indulge in, feedback forms that we fill and so on… Doesn’t it become an overload? I wonder if all these volumes have really enhanced our quality of life : happiness, peace and joy! Not really! But, it is for sure to stay and this is the new way of being. So, we need to adapt and make the most of it! Young or old, we need to be able to keep sifting through a load of stuff on our desks and do that fast. So, apart from being agile, it’s about being strong to be able to handle the stress. Our schools and colleges need to make the students lift a lot of load; our workplaces need to push loads of work on each machine and each man.
Having looked at the speed and volume, let’s look at the 3rd dimension… quality. It is difficult to stride multiple boats, row them all at a furious pace and ensure a bump-free ride. It is possible in an ideal world. However, quality is getting important in anything that we do each day. It could be a government service that we avail or an airlines that we fly or service our car and for many other regular things in life. It is natural that people are developing expertise in specific areas of work. We visit specialist doctors for almost all ailments; visit experts to seek advice on various things irrespective of what the topic is : fashion, interiors, footwear, jewellery, holidays, building, cars, garden, jobs, lierature and so on… So, as life would be a few years ago, the concept of life, living, money, earning, education, school, work, workplace etc will undergo changes. Most likely, it will be a close-knit ecosystem with multiple nodes of specialists who will collaborate to provide a solution to a need or a problem. So, the structure of a family, community and organizations is likely to be a lot matrix-like rather than a pyramid-like; the governance is likely to be a lot more peer-based rather than hierarchy-based. We need to learn how to influence others’ ideas, thoughts, beliefs and thereby their actions. Work is likely to be done with a lot of mutual respect and collaboration rather than a set of instructions and the reward-punishment style.
2020 is not too far. Our world will be more fast-paced, overloaded and silo-based than what it is today. So, we, the people irrespective of our age, position, power and qualifications have to be not only agile and communicative to deal with the pace but also strong and hardworking to deal with the volume of work; be collaborative and respectful of others to interact with the islands of expertise that is likely to our eco-system.
Food for thought today : how effectively we communicate, how agile we are to respond to changes, how much we stretch our limits, how sensitive and respectful we are of others!