Thursday, January 14, 2010

Futurists Give Us the "Shape of Jobs to Come": What This Might Mean for Facilitators and Learning Practitioners

Just published by Fast Future is a study commissioned by the UK Government's Science: So What? So Everything campaign on the Shape of Jobs to Come .

The study produced a list of 20 jobs for 2030, which I thought I would share because Rohit Talwar, from Fast Future, keynoted at the International Association of Facilitators European Conference in Oxford last September. His presentation, "Dancing in the Dark: The Future Business Environment", thoughtfully provoked us all consider how we as facilitators might keep up with the game as the institutions we work with, and the profile of people in them, potentially change.

In that context, he had us imagine a participant group with, for example, age ranges fom 18-200. He questioned how will we structure our sessions, breaks, marketing, preparation, when everyone has global internet exposure and is hyperconnected? How will we work in an extremely resource constrained world - green our events, dramatically reduce costs, save time? When there is incredible ethnic as well as other diversity in the room, how will we celebrate that as well as continually work on issues of difference and potentially tolerance? And so on. For some, parts of this future are already here.

I received this list of future jobs this morning and blogged it because I thought it was interesting to consider how facilitators and learning practitioners might flex methods now for working with all kinds of change in the future (whether it is with body part makers or not!):

The Shape of Jobs to Come list of 20 future Jobs in 2030 (taken directly from their list published on the links above today):

1. Body part maker: Advances in science will make the creation of body parts possible, requiring body part makers, body part stores and body part repair shops.

2. Nano-medic: Advances in nanotechnology offer the potential for a range of sub-atomic 'nanoscale' devices, inserts and procedures that could transform personal healthcare. A new range of nano-medicine specialists will be required to administer these treatments.

3. ‘Pharmer’ of genetically engineered crops and livestock: New-age farmers could be raising crops and livestock that have been genetically engineered to improve yields and produce therapeutic proteins. Possibilities include a vaccine-carrying tomato and therapeutic milk from cows, sheep and goats.

4. Old age wellness manager/consultant: Specialists will draw on a range of medical, pharmaceutical, prosthetic, psychiatric, natural and fitness solutions to help manage the various health and personal needs of the ageing population.

5. Memory augmentation surgeon: Surgeons will add extra memory capacity to people who want to increase their memory capacity. They will also help those who have been over-exposed to information in the course of their life and simply can no longer take on any more information thus leading to sensory shutdown.

6. ‘New science’ ethicist: As scientific advances accelerate in new and emerging fields such as cloning, proteomics and nanotechnology, a new breed of ethicist may be required, who understands a range of underlying scientific fields and helps society make consistent choices about what developments to allow. Much of science will not be a question of can we, but should we.

7. Space pilots, tour guides and architects: With Virgin Galactic and others pioneering space tourism, space trained pilots and tour guides will be needed, as well as designers to enable the habitation of space and other planets. Current projects at SICSA (University of Houston) include a greenhouse on Mars, lunar outposts and space exploration vehicles.

8. Vertical farmers: There is growing interest in the concept of city-based vertical farms, with hydroponically-fed food being grown in multi-storey buildings. These offer the potential to dramatically increase farm yield and reduce environmental degradation. The managers of such entities will require expertise in a range of scientific disciplines, as well as engineering and commerce.

9. Climate change reversal specialist: As the threats and impacts of climate change increase, a new breed of engineer-scientists will be required to help reduce or reverse the effects of climate change on particular locations. They will need to apply multi-disciplinary solutions ranging from filling the oceans with iron filings, to erecting giant umbrellas that deflect the sun's rays.

10. Quarantine enforcer: If a deadly virus starts spreading rapidly, few countries, and few people, will be prepared. Nurses will be in short supply. Moreover, as mortality rates rise, and neighbourhoods are shut down, someone will have to guard the gates.

11. Weather modification police: The act of seeding clouds to create rain is already happening in some parts of the world, and is altering weather patterns thousands of miles away. Weather modification police will need to control and monitor who is allowed to shoot rockets containing silver iodine into the air - a way to provoke rainfall from passing clouds.

12. Virtual lawyer: As more and more of our daily life goes online, specialists will be required to resolve legal disputes which could involve citizens resident in different legal jurisdictions.

13. Avatar manager / Devotees Virtual teacher: Avatars could be used to support or even replace teachers in the elementary classroom, for instance, as computer personas that serve as personal interactive guides. The Devotee is the human that makes sure that the Avatar and the student are properly matched and engaged, etc.

14. Alternative vehicle developers: Designers and builders will create the next generation of vehicle transport using alternative materials and fuels. Could the dream of underwater and flying cars become a reality within the next two decades?

15. Narrowcasters: As broadcasting media becomes increasingly personalised, roles will emerge for specialists working with content providers and advertisers to create content tailored to individual needs. While mass market customisation solutions may be automated, premium rate narrowcasting could be performed by humans.

16. Waste data handler: Specialists will provide a secure data disposal service for those who do not want to be tracked, electronically or otherwise.

17. Virtual clutter organiser: Specialists will help us organise our electronic lives. Clutter management would include effective handling of email, ensuring orderly storage of data, management of electronic IDs and rationalising the applications we use.

18. Time broker / Time bank trader: Alternative currencies will evolve their own markets – for example time banking already exists.

19. Social 'networking' worker: Social workers will help those in some way traumatised or marginalised by social networking.

20. Personal branders: An extension of the role played by executive coaches giving advice on how to create a personal ‘brand’ using social and other media. What personality are you projecting via your blog, Twitter, etc? What personal values do you want to build into your image - and is your image consistent with your real life persona and your goals?

Whether you agree with this list or not, it is still interesting to consider how things change (both with the people and the context) as a learning practitioner and facilitator, and consider how you notice this, and how you adapt your practice to work with it.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Make a Game Out of Any Workshop Topic (The drier the topic the better!)

Tweet version:
Dry topic? Make a GAME: Take topic, identify behaviour desired, make game to practice (team it, test it, time it), add drama, give prizes!

Imagine you have what might otherwise be a dry topic, like sharing a complicated membership application process (not that some people won’t find this exhilarating, of course). As exciting as that topic might seem to those people, you cannot imagine being able to keep a workshop room of 30 people’s undivided attention long enough to go through all the 18 steps (no joke), including the many subtleties and elaborate intricacies of the process, as told by one of the experts.

You still need to transfer the skills and knowledge – why not make a game of it?

You might go about it like this:

1. Pin down a goal: What do you want to be different? For example, regionalising a complicated membership application process so that everyone can conduct it, and not only a handful of HQ people.

2. Identify desired behaviours involved: What do people have to do to achieve this goal? For example, A) following the steps of the application process in the right order (order in this case is important because you need to have the right information to meet different external deadlines imposed by a larger governance and funding process), AND B) be able to make judgements on the quality and completeness of application information submitted at different steps. Here we have two very specific actions – perhaps two different games? (We made two games to keep elegantly simple what could otherwise have been too fiddly.)

3. Develop game materials: What are your physical manifestations of the game? For example, can the steps of the process be put on paper and then separated like a puzzle (without the step numbers of course), to be put back together? Can the questions be put in the form of a quiz worksheet?

4. Design the game mechanics: How do people play – in teams or individually? Are there specific roles? What are the steps of the process? What is moving around – are they building something, answering something, putting something in sequence?

5. Set the rules: What are the rules – what you can and cannot do? What do people have to do to “win”? (Be very consistent with the rules if you give them, otherwise some people get very frustrated if shift happens. Make very few and stick to them.)

6. Time it: How long is a round? How long is the game? (Make sure to keep to the time and don’t go soft on it unless specifically contracting an extension or change with the group, or else the boundaries of the game start to blur.)

7. Record it: How do people record their progress? (back to that quiz sheet) How do they know when they have won? Is there a place to record scores? (what about a big team scoreboard like in baseball?)

8. Test it: Who is the authority who will announce the winner? If appropriate, do you have on hand the “suggested answers” and someone who can explain them?

9. Add drama and surprise: Where can you add some of the fun that goes with games? Mysterious prizes – like a Skip-a-Session-To-Go-Shopping Card? (even better than Get-Out-of-Jail-Free!) Running light commentary like at an auction or football game? New unusual seating arrangement or new room? New teams with different team names? A “judge” as a role play? A bell or whistle to signal round changes?

10. Celebrate it: What is the prize for winning? Chocolates to share? Longer coffee break? First in line in the lunch buffet? The glory of being first (Note: Personally, I get a lot better engagement with more desirable prizes – excuse a pertinent yet non-work example: I cannot get my kids excited to compete in the Getting Dressed in the Morning Game if they know the prize is a Big Kiss from Your Mother.) Also, if you have two games, give different prizes.

11. Debrief it: How can you help the teams make the points? What questions can you ask for people to notice their learning or question aspects of the practice?

It’s certainly not as easy as it sounds to make a good game that people will have fun playing and also have it be a successful learning intervention. One of the most important steps is of course:

12. Practice it: Make sure you know how to brief and debrief it, know and have tested the rules, and have all the measurements of success and prizes ready to go.

Then change the name of your workshop session from: Introduction to Regionalising the Membership Application Process to GAMES DAY! (and at the end of the session, instead of "Good Work" you can delightfully say "Thanks for Playing!")

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Thought for the Day: On Knowledge Workers

Like cobblers kids, do Knowledge Workers kids get no time?

(This rather bleak thought has been haunting me since I Tweeted it last week, I'm hoping posting will exorcise it - or maybe it's better as a New Year's resolution not to work so much!)