3 Early Lessons from the National Conversation on the Future of Work

 Apr 10, 2018 11:00 AM

Sometimes it takes all of us working together to realize the impact each of us, individually, can have. The work of career practitioners is unusual. We workin areas that have dramatic impact to our clients’ well-being that, in turn, shapes our country’s well- being. We know that a resume is not just a document.

It is a license to independence, self-actualization and stability. A job interview isn’t just a meeting. It is anopportunity, a challenge and a window to what else might be possible. We know these things and we take pride in our work and, yet, we often overlook the broader impact and importance of our sector. As president of Challenge Factory, I cross the country engaging with communities, corporations, organizations and leaders who are interested in demystifying and preparing for the Future of Work. Some of these discussions are very practical. Others are highly emotional. All seek to understand how our world is changing and how work will shift.
Along the way, I have learned three lessons about our profession.

Lesson 1: Sometimes dreaming is easier than thinking

My colleague Tim Casswell from Creative Connection firmly believes that there are some challenges where logic fails. “If we must rely on what we think when it comes to the future of our planet we are in significant trouble,” he asserts. Thinking ensures that we rely on what we know. And, in circumstances where it is possible to know many of the variables, thinking may well be warranted. Predicting the future and our role in it – as a profession, as workers, as citizens – is not one of those circumstances.

3 Early Lessons from the National Conversation on the Future of Work

Consider which of the following questions lead you to more creative, open and engaging

● What do you think we should do to ensure we thrive in the future world of work?


● What do you yearn for and long to see in the future world of work?

Sometimes we need to dream a little about what we want before we worry about what
we think.

Lesson 2: Dreaming is easier in 3rd person – and especially
for future generations

Recently, we challenged audiences at two different conferences to consider the second question in the paragraph above. At Cannexus18, we asked to hear what career practitioners yearn for and long to see for their children and children’s children. At a Toronto HR conference, I left the future generational aspect of the question out. The results were dramatic. While most of the people at both conferences have decades of working life ahead of them, many were more comfortable talking about what they hope happens in the context of next generations. It was intriguing that career practitioners and HR professionals have a lot to say about the future and, yet, it is challenging when the answer is in first person. We are much better responding with legacy statements and what we hope will be true for our children. This key learning carries over into techniques for working with individual clients who are also struggling to see their own place in the world and know what they hope will be true for their children.

Lesson 3: The future is ours to lead

A final learning emerging in this ongoing National Conversation is the realization of just how important career practitioners and HR professionals are as we prepare for the future. The significant changes to workforces and workplaces between now and 2030 will reshape our world. They will have lasting political, social, economic and personal impact and may have been set in motion by technology, but the work and insight needed is about humanity. As professionals focused on the intersection of humanity and work, no one is better equipped to lead Canada through these revolutionary times. As career professionals, we often feel invisible or like one piece of a process that we can never quite fully influence. One finding from all my recent conversations is that it is important to realize that now is our time. It is only with the perspectives of this sector that Canada’s full future potential and workforce possibilities can be conceived of, understood and capitalized upon.

I can’t wait to bring insight from current conversations to ACDC18 – and to take insight from Alberta Career Development Practitioners to the rest of the country. Together, we have powerful tools, experiences and knowledge to lead Canadians as they prepare for the future of work.

Lisa’s work is focused on the Future of Work. As President of Challenge Factory and the Centre for
Career Innovation, Lisa offers a dynamic perspective on how demographics, the freelance
economy and new market dynamics present organizations and individuals with opportunities to
gain strategic advantage. Lisa’s expertise is widely recognized and regularly cited in the Globe and
Mail, Wall Street Journal, Toronto Star, Sun Media and on North American TV and Radio.



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