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David Bernard

CEO of AssessFirst

David Bernard

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2050 – Living in the algorithm era…


2050 is not that far away from us. Barely three decades... (Still remember the 90’s, right?) Of course, it is impossible today to precisely depict what our future will look like 30 years from now. But there are at least 2 facts that we can now take for granted:

#1 - First, the world population will grow. Massively so. According to the most recent projections from the United Nations, we will be close to 10 billion people living on our planet (1) which represents a significant 29% increase compared to our current situation.

#2 - Secondly, there are many jobs - between 20 and 50% - that will be either partly or fully automatised (2) due to the growing influence algorithms will have across all types of industries; accountants, secretaries, truck drivers and even lawyers or surgeons!

Long story short: There will be “far more people / much fewer jobs”.

#1 - Do we have any reason to worry?

Of course a lot of people will argue that humans will not be taken out of the race so easily: “People will grow and acquire new skills. They will transform themselves and reinvent their job. They will learn how to collaborate with robots and intelligently use algorithms to become ‘a super augmented version of themselves’” .

Okay, let’s assume that. But do you really think this is going to happen just like that, kind of... “Magically” ?!

Pretty sure it will not. Why? First, because change is not something most of us like. When change occurs, for most of us, the natural reaction - which is kind of a pavlovian reflex - is to retract in to our comfort zone. Call it “what is familiar to us”, “what makes us comfortable” or “what reinforces our vision of the world and of our values”. Every time we do that, we tend to see the outside world (our “uncomfortable zone”) as something deeply frightening and potentially threatening.

If we stay for too long inside of our comfort zone, we end up being paralysed and inhibited when faced with the absolute necessity to dramatically change our habits.

Note for those who hold a leadership role: You will have the huge responsibility to explain to your people WHY change is not only important but also desirable. For you, it will all be about being able to give a meaning to the changes we are all going to face, collectively.

#2 - Positivity is important, but it is not everything...

It is important to be able to adopt a positive outlook on change, however it is only the first part of the equation. The second is having the capacity to concretely “deal” with that change. People will need to adopt a brand new perspective, to rearrange their vision and to deal with a large amount of complexity, on a daily basis.

In psychology, there is a factor that can explain how good people are at acquiring new competencies and new skill sets. This factor is called the “G Factor” or GMA (General Mental Aptitude). The “G Factor” can be apprehended through 2 angles: “Power” and “Speed”. “Power” is how good people are at dealing with complexity. “Speed” represents how quick they can resolve problems and learn.

Of course, we can not project what the GMA scores will look like for the 10 billions of people who will share the planet in 2050. But when we consider the current distribution of that criteria, this is what we can observe:

Looking at the far right sections, if we sum up those who can manage high to extreme levels of complexity, we arrive to a total of 9.39%. Those - let’s say - 10%, will undoubtedly be the ones who will create the automatised systems (algorithms, robots...) which will transform how the work will be done in the near future.

Those just following (the 39,47% represented in yellow) are those who will pilot those systems to achieve great levels of productivity and performance in the workplace.

The real problem concerns the remaining 50% of the population (people on the left-hand side of the curve). For them, this brave new world to come will be more and more difficult to deal with as it will unfold - the pace of change is going to accelerate no matter what. Levels of uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity will continue to rise. #Unstoppable

#3 - Who we hire could change our destiny...

But let’s concentrate on the people on the right-hand side; those who will actively create our future. We will have to take the hiring of those people super seriously! Imagine hiring the bad people for those super sensitive jobs involving algorithms that can execute certain tasks in a certain way, at an unprecedented scale. Done wrong, it could lead us to catastrophic situations. #HelloTerminator #HelloBlackMirror

The problem is that if we do not reinvent our hiring practices starting today, we will certainly head in the wrong direction. Think about this for a minute: Today in 2019, if we were to hire 100 people and were to follow them over a period of 18 months, here is what we would see:

After only 6 months, 17% of them will no longer be in the job.
After 12 months, more than a tier (36%) will choose to leave the company or will be fired. After 18 months, 46% will no longer be in the company that hired them in the first place.

And, most importantly, 9 times out of 10, those “hiring failures” have nothing to do with technical skills. They are all due to a lack of soft skills or about what we could refer to as “behavioural misalignments”.

Hiring failures can occur due to a strong inadequacy between the personal values of the candidate and what is defined as the corporate DNA of the company. It can be due to the fact that people can’t naturally adopt the behaviours that would lead them to success or because there is a problem of “working compatibility” between the candidate and their managers or their team.

So, 1 time out of 2, when we hire, it leads to failure... and 9 times out of 10, those failures occur due to problems related to soft skills.

But there is another concern... On average, in our life, we will all spend approximatively 80,000 hours working, which equates to 54% of our time awake. This represents approximately one quarter of our entire life. Putting it bluntly - hiring poorly is not only detrimental to companies but it can literally ruin people’s life.

#4 - Lets make the change happen!

This is why it is urgent to reinvent our hiring practices, starting today. To achieve better recruits, we have to focus on helping people achieve their full potential at work and we have to help them live their job with passion.

You think I’m too romantic? Do not say that! Several studies have shown that people who are deeply passionate about their job, deliver up to 8 times greater performance than people who do not enjoy what they are doing.

But if we want to do that, we’ll have to stop focusing on the school people attended or on their past experiences to see who they really are, far beyond their resume or their LinkedIn profile.

#5 - Its all about potential!

Every human being on earth has a unique combination of three key factors : the way in which they think (their aptitudes), what drives them (their motivations), and how they behave on a daily basis (their personality).

Using those 3 key factors alone, you can identify what the natural talents of people are i.e. what makes them unique.

And by comparing those natural talents with the predictive models that are linked to the jobs you have to hire for, you can accurately predict how well people are going to succeed and thrive in those jobs. This is what we call “Predictive Hiring”.

#6 - Do not forget happiness along the way...

Another problem we’ll have to deal with in the near future is that even when people stay in the company, they seem not to appear super happy. In a way, this situation is comparable to the situation we can observe in marriages. In several countries around the world, roughly 1 married couple out of 2 will end up divorced. But are the survivors really living the relationship of their dreams?

When we talk about happiness and engagement at work, studies tell us that 90% of the workforce are not completely engaged.

This is why, in 2025 we could see real time mood trackers appear. Those mood trackers could be small chips that we insert into our body. Doing so, we could obtain super accurate statistics concerning our temperature, cardiac rhythm, blood sugar level, electrodermal response and even how we feel; good or bad.

Imagine that for a second. Tracking all that information while you breath. And when the system detects a decrease in your level of happiness after a period of 4 consecutive weeks (combined with a poor professional manager affinity), there would be a notification appearing on your watch, informing you of your next potential professional move:

“Hey! There is a company 6 min away from your home that is looking for a person exactly like you, for a Data Scientist role. We just determined that you are a 87% match with that job. You have an 79% professional affinity with Michael, your future manager. The total compensation package is 22% higher than the one you have today. We estimated that you should be 1.7 times more happy in that role than how you are today. If you want me to apply on your behalf, just say ‘APPLY’. If you want more information concerning this opportunity, say ‘MORE INFO’. To dismiss this notification say ‘DISMISS’”.

#7 - Future is Now

You think this is Science-Fiction? Today in 2019, if you take less than 40 minutes to complete your full AssessFirst profile (which is the time you need to watch a Black Mirror episode), they can tell you in which job you could perform at your best, all while being extraordinarily happy. And they claim to do this with an an accuracy of 85%.

And it doesn’t stop there. Using that same information, they can tell you how well you’re going to fit with each and every one of your future colleagues. They can also give you all the details of your potential to cooperate with them in 7 key areas, like, how you think, the way in which you act, how you react, how you deal with problems or how you both handle conflicts.

You’re going to tell me: Okay, cool. But there is more to life than our work life. And you are right!

#8 Happiness is more than having a fulfilling job...

Did you know that the “Happiness Formula” was discovered a long time ago in Psychology?

To be super happy you need to be in good health (this is not mandatory but it helps), live with the love of your life and have a job in which you can both express your full potential and thrive.

By using this exact same information as what was used to determine your potential of success at work, it is possible to determine your probability of having a happy relationship with different types of romantic partners.

And because 50% of this information is predetermined by your genetics, you’ll also have the possibility to simulate the type of children you could have, with each of those potential partners.

Would you prefer to be the mother or the father of a child with a high level of mental agility? With a strong sense of leadership? With the capacity to think differently? With an empathetic quality?

#9 - The end of the Work Life Balance Myth.

Tomorrow will see the decline of that artificial border erected between our work life and our personal life. We’ll see people lead more integrated lives, with no clear separation between who they are when they are at home, with the people they love and who they allow themselves to be when they are at the office.

And because time will continue to fly, it will be inconceivable to waste it.

Every child, once they hit the age of 5, will receive a “potential passport”, based on the assessment of their different types of intelligence. Based on that, activities will be advised to each and every one of them to help them express more of who they are and develop their natural talents.

This will probably signify the end of the traditional educational model as we know it. A model that was super effective when what was important was to prepare future workers to execute standardised tasks and missions. But this model will no longer be relevant considering the fact our environment will no longer be predictable.

All of those transformations combined will profoundly affect the talent curve. It will lead to a more egalitarian distribution where all talents will be valued, not only those who are linked to classical intelligence forms like verbal literacy or mathematical reasoning. We’ll see the rise of interpersonal and intra-personal intelligences; musical or kinetic intelligences, just to name a few.

All that, serving just one great ambition: Helping everyone become the best version of themselves and to be proud of what makes them unique.

#10 - You think this is too far from reality? #IsThatGuyOnLSD?

Before December the 28th of 2002, you would never have thought about consulting the resume of clients, prospects or partners before holding a meeting with them. Today you do just that. We all do that. We all go on LinkedIn and take a look at who people are, in which industries they forged their experiences and even which type of universities and classes they attended.

Before February the 4th of 2004, you would never have thought about sharing your holidays pics or photos of (drinking) parties with your friends on the web. Today, close to 2 billion people are registered on Facebook. Everyday they share their thoughts, what they like and how they feel. All of that is shared with their consent.

Today we are in 2019 and you think you will never publicly share what is the most intimate part of you; your personality and your deep desires and motivations. But you will do just that too. You will tell the world what your natural behaviours are, beyond what your instagram feed says. You will be proud to shout out what your inner motivations are, what gives you energy and with which type of manager you are more comfortable working with and those you would rather not work with. You will even advertise things you barely knew about yourself like the type of culture that is the best fit for you or the precise way in which you think.

Make Humanity Great Again.

And this will be the right thing to do. Because in a World in which algorithms, automated processes and robots will have a growing influence, you will stay relevant by reaffirming more of who you are and by acknowledging what makes you human.

This is the way that you will continue to profoundly impact your environment and continue to create real differences, for the best.

(1)  United Nations Departments of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, “World Population Prospects 2019”.

(2)  PWC, Will Robots really steal our Jobs, An International Analysis of the Potential Long Term Impact of Automation.

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David Bernard

David Bernard

Read more from David Bernard

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