Reflections 29th November

image. Ben Merrick. Rural Warwickshire in Tier 3

What’s on my mind

Winter, A time of transformation

In just over three weeks time it will be winter solstice, the shortest day and the beginning of the run up to Spring. It will be challenging. Truly remarkable work has been done on a vaccine, but whatever the bluster, we are unlikely to see a meaningful impact until at least the Spring.

Until then, we have an unexpected opportunity. The festive season will be disrupted, which though a downer (not least of all for me and family) is dealable with. There will be a festive season next year, and we’ll just put Christmas back to Spring for this. More importantly, I think we’re in a time of reset.

It will be disruptive much it more than inconvenient, and there’s no-one really to blame. Businesses are by definition risk enterprises and we’ve hit a risk event. Businesses will disappear, and jobs will go. New ones will appear. The opportunity to clear out the old and bring in new is invigorating and personally I will be glad to see the back of soulless and extractive businesses lke Arcadia.

Arcadia, and similar businesses are however just early examples. the weakest of their kind. Exposed through leverage and a preference for shareholder dividends over investment for sustainability. More will follow.

The bigger threat is the rapid encroachment of technology into areas currently occupied by well trained and qualified managers and professionals, from sales staff to lawyers. Projections have suggested up to 50% of such jobs may be at risk, and whether those forecasts are reasonable or not, there is little doubt that the impact will be significant.

The implication is clear. Assuming that the job we have trained for is secure is dangerous.

The time when we could be secure through learned knowledge is disappearing. Smart technologies can collate and parse it better and faster than we Sapiens can. Our futures as creative contributors to our society looks likely to depend on those areas of ourselves we have been encouraged to subordinate – fine arts, philosophy, creativity and other “soft” skills that help us shape the human products and services that technology can help us service.

It will require us to think, work, collaborate andlive differently. It raises big questions, and it’s those that are on my mind.

What’s making me think

Resilience. This is a stressful time for most of us, and we are exhorted to be resilient. This short and thoughtful article from Psyche Magazine offers food for thought and practical steps to improve ours.

Foward Thinking. A Farnam Street podcast with Roger Martin, one of the best integrative thinkers around. This ties closely to resilience in finding new ways to look at things that challenge us.

Smart is overrated. “Smart” has become a measure of goodness, to our increasing disadvantage. Amongst other things “it has turned our public and private leadership class into an assemblage of uninspired technocrats, uninterested in and perhaps incapable of grappling with the enormous problems we face”. An excellent though t provoking piece by Michael Sandell.

The Practice. Seth Godin on his latest book. 60 min on Youtube. I think its important, and that its worth an hour of anybody’s time. Please litsen to it 🙂

A quote

I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride”. —WILLIAM JAMES

Where I’m focusing

As I’ve been exploring the implications of this year on our future, and what it means to each of us, the idea of The Artisan keeps recurring. People who commit to a craft that matters to them, that makes a difference to those around them, and which is not about the money.

As we get into what I hope is a “post money mentality” and understand that whilst money is important it’s a tool, not a goal in itself, I’m interested in what it takes to find the artisan in each of us, whether we work for ourselves or megacorp. Being an Artisan is an attitude.

I’m going to be exploring that.

Have a great week.

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