radical Insights.

Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

Jobs of the Future and Energy Disruption.

Mar 7, 2022

Dear Friend,

In our circles, you often come across an (alleged) Chinese proverb: “May you live in interesting times”. It is frequently prefaced with a comment similar to “this might be a curse or a blessing”. We certainly do live in interesting times — and regardless what one thinks about the current situation in Ukraine, it surely does feel like the world is moving from one state to the next right in front of our eyes. I was lucky enough to have witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall — being in Berlin shortly after the wall fell and having walked right across the former “death zone” on the Eastern side of the wall, days after the people of both sides of Berlin knocked holes into the wall. I remember the feeling of the momentous shift which has happened around the world — the same, alas less optimistic feeling, I have these days.


A useful thought experiment for exploring the entwined futures of work & learning: Try for a few minutes to imagine — in detail — jobs that might exist in 2030 that don’t exist today and what skills those jobs might require. Future forecasters and social scientists do this periodically, and the results always make for an interesting and sometimes whimsical read, particularly in hindsight (e.g., the list below from a paper published in 2010 projecting out to 2030).

This exercise becomes even more interesting when we consider claims that some significant percentage of jobs in future year X don’t exist today and then ask how we might prepare ourselves, our employees, or our young learners for such future jobs. The specific jobs claims themselves might be wild shots in the dark, but the question around skilling is a real and important one. We don’t have to get hung up on the job requirements of the future “time bank trader” role envisioned above to see that identifying discrete task-oriented skills and expecting them to be future-proof is not a smart/sustainable bet (e.g., even regarding programming skills as a hedge in the era of low-/no-code development tools, GitHub copilot, and so on).

But returning to our thought experiment now, ask yourself this: Which of your jobs of the future would not be best performed by someone who has learned how to learn effectively, seeks new/different perspectives, and shows a deep curiosity about herself, others, and her world? These are among the types of skills, behaviors, and mindsets that are more likely to prove adaptive across the widest range of possible futures, so we would do well to keep them at the heart of the literacies and fluencies we aim to cultivate in learners and leaders of tomorrow. (via Jeffrey)

Disrupt Disruption

For years now, our friend and colleague Ramez Naam predicts that renewable energy will somewhat soon’ish and inevitably become cheaper than fossil fuels. Related, a recent long-read from Max Roser at Our World in Data, answers the question “Why did renewables become so cheap so fast?”. The energy transition of our planet’s primary and dominant energy source from burning carbon-based fuels to other forms of energy is important and complex (as we have explored in a recent Open Coffee with some of our community experts) — but as the situation in Ukraine makes visible, one which not only has massive climate implications but also huge geopolitical ones. The current shock to the system will, almost for certain, will shift a lot of the pieces in play and lead to a deeply disrupted energy landscape with many winners and losers. A prime example of the many forces of disruption at play — and in interplay. (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

☘️ 3 factors that help you master asynchronous leadership While there’s no silver bullet and no single answer to successful leadership in the new world of work, there is one simple truth: As workplaces change, so must their leaders. Innovative leadership requires innovation in leadership and those able to try, fail, iterate and try again will inevitably assemble stronger, more cohesive, and more successful businesses. JaneRead

😳 Hunter S. Thompson’s Letter on Finding Your Purpose and Living a Meaningful Life “In Hunter S. Thompson’s Letter on Finding Your Purpose, he states: Every person is the sum of their reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different person and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective. So, wouldn’t it seem foolish to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? MafeRead

🦠 How Covid Stole Our Time and How We Can Get It Back The key to recovering “lost time” in the past is the same as the key to creating a satisfying, fulfilled future: recognizing your agency and exercising it with intention. JeffreyRead

🔮 Cozy futurism Maybe it is time to re-frame our view of the future from one which is “cool-scifi-shit futurism” (their words, not mine) to “cozy futurism” — where we start not with technology but with current problems and human needs and looking at how those could be solved and met. PascalRead

Internet Finds

We spend a lot of time on our presentations (as you might have noticed) and are, all in all, huge fans of Apple Keynote. Contrasting the simple elegance and overall intuitive setup of Keynote with Google Slides was always a somewhat harsh experience — and now we know why. 👩‍🏫

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: Obvious is Better

⚠️ Disrupt Disruption: If you haven’t done so, listen in on a fascinating conversation with EY’s Global Learning Leader Riaz Shah on what it takes to disrupt executive education in the latest episode of Disrupt Disruption. Listen on our website or in your podcast app of choice.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)