Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper on May 27, 2018
There is a take on the subject that I find very interesting and is certainly more positive, which is the one mentioned by Martin Ford in TED 2017. He tells us about the great disruptions the automobile produced at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1915, there were 22 million horses transporting merchandise and people, pulling carts and carriages, throughout the world. Tens of millions of people depended on this economy of animal transport, until the Ford T came on the scene and instilled terror among those who assumed they would be left unemployed and in ruins.
What was not envisioned with equal clarity was people’s ability to learn new skills and cultivate new abilities, to reinvent themselves by doing new and different things, and to change their activity and even profession, after the initial shock, denial, and rejection. Therefore, the arrival of the new automotive technology brought with it a new economy of motorized transport, and by 1960, the use of horses had been reduced to 3.5 million in the world. They could not learn new skills or reinvent themselves.
Thinking, learning, and adapting are our great competitive advantages as a species.
Devising a new, daily challenge allows us to have a flexible brain that learns, creates, innovates, and adapts. In my opinion, the great challenges of the technological changes on the horizon also arise from the attitudes and paradigms held by those who focus all their attention on defending what they might lose. Instead, they could try to anticipate and prepare to learn new things faster, as well as keep their brains and attitudes flexible in order to be attentive and alert to the disruptions that technology may bring to their jobs.
There will be new industries and new types of work. And just as Jeff Bezoz, CEO of Amazon, is committed to training his immense workforce in new skills according to each of their interests —which will ultimately benefit his company—, all of us have the challenge of tackling our own reinvention, regardless of our age or position. The challenge is to thoroughly understand our personal reactions to change and immediately focus —without excuses or wasting any time— on a strategic vision of our career, keeping our minds very curious, flexible, and open.