For our parent’s and grandparent’s, there was a high level of comfort in developing a skillset and then monetizing it throughout your career. Whether that was working in a factory building automobiles or being an accountant, there was a reasonable chance that if you were good at your job, your employment was guaranteed for life. Not only that, but the confidence employer’s had in the rate of change was so high that they would provide a pension that would take care of an employee in their retirement.
In just one generation, that employment contract has changed dramatically. Most employers no longer provide pensions and most employees no longer expect them. In fact, most employers and employees recognize that their relationship is no longer going to be for an extended period of time.
As a result of this big change in the nature of work, the next generation must prepare itself with the skills that are needed in order to be successful. Instead of learning a skill and monetizing throughout one’s career, prospective employees are now expected to learn and re-learn a wide variety of skills throughout their entire career.
The main reason being, technological development is what has underpinned the rapid rate of creative innovation for growing organizations and unparalleled destruction of stagnant organizations. One can simply compare Kodak & Instagram or Sears & Amazon to see how technology driven innovation is going to continue to play an outsized role for the foreseeable future in organizations as well as the employees that support them.
Learning to code and the associated lifelong learning required to remain relevant is a skill that will place the next generation in a prime position to have the ability to not only take on this challenge within a global competitive economy but excel at it.
1. Rapid development
For some, technological development seems comes out of nowhere and behaves as an all consuming wave that clears out legacy organizations and installs newer, more nimble companies.
However, the rapid pace of development within technology is somewhat predictable. We know that computing power continues to increase. We know that sensors continue to get smaller and more capable. We know that data continues to explode. And, we know that the global population continues to become more connected.
The real key is the ability to connect all these seemingly disparate dots into a cohesive thesis that either predicts the future or develops the innovation that defines the future.
It wasn’t all that long ago when it required a very skilled developer to create a website for e-commerce. From ensuring site availability to processing credit card payments. Now, these are things that can be done using a Shopify site or Wordpress for the website and Stripe for payment processing.
Going forward, we will continue to see the flattening of previously difficult technological execution becoming foundational or software-as-a-service based. The primary reason for this is the market demands solutions to increasingly higher level problems. So, if elements of the technology stack create challenges, a skill team will figure out how to develop an 80% solution to those issues and the market will reward that simplification.
And as the market experiments with the 80% solution, they will either find that it is good enough or they will continue pushing the team to refine the innovation.
However, it is clear that it will become very inefficient for a skilled developer to build a ground up payments solution given the abundance of available options.
2. Constant innovation
Within the context of a constantly changing environment is the realization that you can’t just maintain the status-quo and hope to be successful. The next generation will require a constant demonstration of innovation and disruption to prove themselves valuable in this global economy.
However, it will not just be innovation for the sake of innovation. Instead it has to be customer-focused innovation that is laser-focused on solving increasingly difficult problems. In order to achieve this reality, the next generation will have to become skilled at studying and analyzing trends. In addition, they will have to predict what will be the next area for disruption.
There will also need to be a necessary realization that the MVP or prototype is not likely to be what the ultimate solution is going to be. For new innovations, there will be a requirement that there is a better understanding of the problem under consideration and then quickly transition into the development of a solution that enables rapid feedback and successive iteration before the product-market fit solution reveals itself.
Technology development is already creating a fertile environment for this with the switch from a waterfall into an agile development cycle. However, any process that is not fully understood and supported can be misused. In order to truly develop the groundbreaking innovations of tomorrow, the next generation will have to be students of not just business but also technology.
This will best equip them to develop solutions within an environment of constant and continuous innovation.
3. Global scale
One of the most amazing characteristics of the future of work is the global scale of solutions. As technology has created a more interconnected ecosystem, it becomes increasingly clear that organizations that establish a global mindset will become very powerful.
Previously, it may have been impressive to solve an issue for thousands or even millions of users. However, what has recently emerged is solution providers who can solve problems on an ongoing basis for billions of users. Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google are the earliest examples of companies that have the technology capabilities to execute upon this previously unimaginable challenge.
Our prediction is that there are other companies like Uber, Waymo or technologies such as cryptocurrency that will be close behind. What doesn’t get enough credit is just how amazing this accomplishment actually is. If you put aside for a moment, the privacy and monopoly concerns; there are organizations that are able to solve issues for a large percentage of nearly the entire world’s populations.
While the existing solutions have been consumer, commerce, social and search based to this point, we know that there are some really challenging problems like poverty or healthcare which would be hugely beneficial for a scalable solution.
The lessons that problem solvers can take from existing organizations that have already scaled in this manner means that solutions to some of our most difficult problems are within reach if the right teams of people choose to focus on them.
It’s quite exciting especially from a developmental standpoint to think that there is a skill, coding, that you can introduce your child to that will not only prepare them for success over the long term but also ensure that they develop an intrinsic motivation and lifelong learning as a result.