Deloitte interviews Thomas Friedman: The Future of Work

Just read a 5,000 word interview with Thomas Friedman here. To say that I am a Friedman fan, would be an understatement. The Pulitzer Prize winning author is beyond wise. Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat (affiliate links) are incredibly important books. 5 Stars. The interview was conducted by Deloitte CEO, Cathy Engelbert, and John Hagel. So much goodness here, quoting Friedman in blue italics. Where is work headed?

Work is being disconnected from jobs, and jobs and work are being disconnected from companies, which are increasingly becoming platforms. . . We’re now in a world of flows — then learning has to become lifelong. We have to provide both the learning tools and the learning resources for lifelong learning when your job becomes work and your company becomes a platform.
I repeat this mantra ad nauseam in the classroom. “Learn how to learn.” Yes, we will teach you the 80/20 you need to succeed. Yes, we’ll design the learning experience so it’s easier to remember. Yes, we’ll give you a mental map of how it all fits together. That said, it’s not enough. It’s up to you to learn how to (continuously) learn.
That is, when we move into a world of flows, and the flows are the source of strategic advantage where you extract value, and the flows are getting faster. . . that rule number one is you want to be radically open. And that’s a really hard sell right now, because it feels so counterintuitive. . .Why do you want to be radically open? Because you’ll get more flows; you’ll get the signals first, and you will attract more flow-minded people, which I would call high-IQ risk-takers
If the free markets (read: University of Chicago, neo-classical, freshwater school of economics) depend on the transfer of value, it’s foolish for a large company / organization to wall itself off, away from customers, away from innovation, away from the flows of value. Cathy Engelbert noted that “In a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, some leading labor economists did an analysis of net new employment in the United States between 2005 and 2015, and found that about 94 percent of that net new employment was from alternative work arrangements—everything from gig to freelance and off-balance-sheet kinds of work”. Okay, let’s repeat that number here, loudly: 94% of net new jobs were not traditional (get hired by the company) jobs.
What’s the role of companies in fostering lifelong learning?
Well, the AT&T model is [one of] the best I’ve come across. Basically, the CEO shares with the company where the company is going, what world they are living in, and what skills you need to be a lifelong employee at AT&T, then partners with Udacity to create nano-degree courses for each one of those skills. Then the company gives each employee up to $8,000 a year to take those courses, but it says to the employee, “Your responsibility is that you have to take them on your own time.
Friedman’s main point seems to be that “It’s on you.” It’s your responsibility to determine how to continuously upgrade yourself. Pick out the right courses, right experiences, right challenges, and double-down on yourself. The days of passive-investing in your career are gone. Libertarians will find this not-so-surprising. What’s the recipe for success with the future of work?
PQ + CQ will always be greater than IQ. You give me a young person or employee with a high passion quotient and a high curiosity quotient, high PQ and high CQ, and I’ll take them over the person with a high intelligence quotient, IQ, seven days a week. PQ + CQ are always greater than IQ.
STEMpathy jobs—jobs that combine science, technology, engineering, and math with human empathy, the ability to connect with another human being. When you put those two things together in a manager or in an employee, I think you have the sweet spot of where work has to go. We used to work with our hands for many centuries; then we worked with our heads, and now we’re going to have to work with our hearts, because there’s one thing machines can not, do not, and never will have, and that’s a heart. Advice for people entering the job market? Think like an immigrant. “I better figure out what’s going on here, what the opportunities are, and pursue them with more energy, vigor, and more PQ and CQ than anybody else.” So my first rule is always think like an immigrant, because we’re all new immigrants to the age of accelerations. Second, always think like an artisan. So always do your job [in a way that] you bring so much empathy to it, so much unique, personal value-add, that it cannot be automated, digitized, or outsourced, and that you want to carve your initials into it at the end of the day. Third, always be in beta. I got this idea from Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn. Reid’s motto is, “Always be in beta.” Always think of yourself as if you need to be reengineered, retooled, relearned, retaught constantly. Never think of yourself as “finished”; otherwise you really will be finished. Fourthly, always remember that PQ + CQ is greater than IQ. “Whatever you do, whether you’re in the public sector or the private sector, whether you’re on the front lines or a manager, always think entrepreneurially.” Always think, “Where can I fork off and start a new company over here, a new business over there?” Because [huge manufacturing companies are] not coming to your town with a 25,000-person factory. That factory is now 2,500 robots and 500 people. So we need three people starting jobs for six, six people starting jobs for twelve, twelve people starting jobs for twenty. That’s how we’re going to get all those jobs. We need everyone thinking entrepreneurially.

28 April, 2018