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Learning how to succeed in disruptive times at KMWorld Connect 2021

Dealing with disruption and rapidly changing expectations from customers and employees was addressed in three separate keynotes on day 3 of KMWorld Connect 2021 in which speakers spotlighted technology trends that will enable organizations to be winners in difficult times. Everything we do is impacted by technology—how we communicate with others, connect at work, learn at school, and live our lives, according to author and independent consultant Tracey Wilen, who presented the first keynote, titled "The Future of Work: Dealing with Digital Disruption."

The accelerated pace of technology and competition is causing workplace environments to become more technical and diverse. This new landscape requires fresh styles of leadership and new techniques of managing organizations. Drawing on more than 20 years of research and the latest happenings in our world, Wilen discussed the key forces impacting the future of work, industries, leadership styles, skills, and education with a focus on how to remain relevant in an ever-increasingly complex digital world.

Wilen noted that the World Economic Forum has said that we are now in a fourth industrial revolution, and that the fourth industrial revolution is completely different than previous revolutions because it's all about technology.

Today, said Wilen, we live in a time of change or a “VUCA” (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. The term originated with the U.S. Army War College to describe conditions resulting from the Cold War. And, similarly, in today’s business environment, anything can happen and plans can be disrupted without warning, whether from meteorological events, new competitors, or completely unexpected occurrences like the COVID-19 pandemic.

With an increasingly diverse workforce is there is increasing complexity spanning expectations, goals, motivation, learning styles, views of leadership, and points of view. What is necessary to succeed in the face of rapid technological and social change she said are 5 key skills.

  1. Multimedia literacy—the ability to absorb and use information from multiple inputs
  2. Data literacy—the ability to read and understand data but also know that a human component is required
  3. Computational thinking—rationality, can you think like a computer?
  4. Virtual collaboration—using tools, trust, processes, communication and the ability to manage objectives
  5. Novel and adaptive thinking—borrow trends for other areas, rethink solutions, resolve your own problems using new technology to improve

The point, said Wilen, is that whether you are a leader or an employee, you need to disrupt yourself or someone will do it for you. For leaders, this means 3 things:

  • Interconnected knowing: through broader real-time knowledge about industry direction & technology, competitors (acquisitions, investments, patents), adjacent markets, emerging startups, research universities/incubators, technology firms/shows, vendors/partners, venture capital and private equity
  • Customer/vendor guidance: embrace input including ideas, pain points, focus groups, surveys, social media insights, and advisory teams
  • Workforce innovation: use employees by hiring innovative talent, accepting input from employees, sales teams, customer service, diverse talent-idea people, holding serious contests/rewards, crowdsourcing, incorporating employee advisory teams, and adding new board members

For employees, she also advised that they be creative and continue to grow, rembembering that they were not hired to do a robot’s job and the job when they were hired will be very different from their role and responsibilities a year later. She also advised that employees take a career selfie and actively think about where they are now, where they want to go and how they can make it happen.

KMWorld Connect 2021 is going on this week, November 15 -18, with workshops on Friday, November 19. On-demand replays of sessions will be available for a limited time to registered attendees and many presenters are also making their slide decks available through the conference portal. For more information, go to www.kmworld.com/conference/2021.

Access to session archives will be available on or about November 29, 2021, so be sure to check back for on-demand replays.

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