Future Friday: Have we forgotten about the future? Advice for HR professionals

HR should not ignore the future.
HR should not ignore the future.

If you read my blog on Fridays you know that I address the future of work and the future of HR. I embrace Futurism. I have developed a program to teach HR about becoming futurists. Why? I think it is critical to the success of business. That is why I read with interest Mike Montgomery’s article in Forbes called Entrepreneurs Need to Embrace Futurism. I am going to take what Montgomery says about why entrepreneurs need to pay attention to futurism and apply that to HR.

Future Shock

The inspiration for Montgomery’s piece was an article on the death of Alvin Toffler, author of the book Future Shock. The author of the article, Farhad Manjoo, said that people today have mostly ignored Toffler’s warnings and advice and have become “future blind.” Change is occurring at such a rapid rate that people don’t even try to keep up with it, we just deal with it. Manjoo says that is the wrong approach and that governments need to “take a closer look at the academic study of futurism and try to determine how to better and more smoothly integrate technology in order to prepare for the future.” Montgomery’s contention is that entrepreneurs should do the same thing. As you might suspect I feel that HR should do this as well.

Forecast the future

Montgomery says that it seems we have just seemed to have stopped studying the future. He quotes Amy Webb, the CEO and founder of Future Today Institute, who says that we need to be “thinking about the future, but that requires [we] invest time into forecasting trends.” I offer tips for how HR can do that, you can find those here.
Montgomery this gives some advice he gleaned from several well-known futurists, such James Canton and Jack Uldrich. Here is some of that advice. From Canton we get:

“Every entrepreneur  [HR professional] should be thinking about what their customers’ [employees] future lives will be looking like.”
“Every entrepreneur [HR professional] should be talking to people about what their emerging needs are.”
Budding entrepreneurs [HR professionals] should travel to micro trade shows or immerse themselves in micro communities [technology fairs].

From Uldrich we get:

Entrepreneurs  [HR professionals] need to be aware that thinking has leapt from linear to exponential. They need to be humble enough to know that what worked well yesterday might not today. And they need to be willing to take a risk, even if all of the information isn’t perfect.”
You [HR professionals] have  to understand how technologies will converge to spin off to create new opportunities”

From Amy Webb we get:

“If you’re not serious about tracing trends, as an entrepreneur  [HR professional] you are being irresponsible.”

To sum up this advice

The summation of these statements means that as an HR professional

  • You need to be curious about the future
  • You need to find out what is making prospects, employees and managers tick
  • You need to investigate trends and be aware of the difference between fads and trends
  • You should be curious and investigate new technologies to determine their viability in your world
  • You need to realize you are not going to know it all
  • You have to put the time and effort into studying changing trends and if you don’t you are not doing your best for your company

You can find more about this subject below in the posts I have written.

Future Friday: How to become a futurist

Future Friday: Don’t let today get in the way of tomorrow

Future Friday: Can you tell the difference between Fads, Micro Trends, Macro Trends and Megatrends?

Why It is Important for HR to Stay Up on Technology

You can also put any term in the search box on the upper right column and find out if I have written about the subject.

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