Why Our View of Being Human in a Digital World Must Change

Paul Kurchina
Paul Kurchina in Digital Transformation, Change, mindset April 14, 2018

Technology innovation has been a source of inspired thinking for generations. From movie screens and books, to the innovator’s sketch pad, the dream of a life that’s automated, informed, and enjoyable has guided inventions throughout human history.

Humans have always been the masters of technology, but something has changed in the last five years. More than 40 percent of companies listed at the top of the Fortune 500 disappeared by 2010. Business models that have lasted more than 100 years are no longer competitive enough to gain customer attention. The 33-year average lifespan of businesses in 1964 has narrowed to 24 years in 2016 and is expected to decline by 50 percent by 2027. And now, people are afraid that robots will soon replace them—or some predict that robots will erase the usefulness of humans altogether.

How did we go from daydreaming about the possibilities of technology to fearing its vast potential? The reason simply boils down to mindset: In one view, we see technology reshaping us, and in another view we command how it can further perfect our lives.

It’s Time to Get Curious About Going Digital Again

Without a doubt, people have been caught up in the velocity, volume, and variety of change driven by technology. No matter the technology we adopt, there’s always a newer, better, faster, and easier innovation around the corner. Even our employers are continuously rethinking, reimagining, and resetting themselves as they find new ways to become more efficient, effective, and relevant.

But when it comes to fulfilling our career plans and sustaining our livelihoods, we are letting this endless wave of digital transformation happen to us, not for us. Passivity in digital adoption is not what this new economy needs to grow sustainably and extend prosperity to all people.

Instead, we need to start considering technology as a tool to reframe our careers based on three emerging truths:

  1. Being human is a competitive advantage.

Recently, I have come across articles that declare that “human is the next big thing” in digital transformation. When you consider that five generations are coexisting in the workplace and life spans are increasing to a point where the 100-year life and a perennial career are within reach, this line of thinking makes sense. Yet I also argue that, when it comes to digital strategies, human is—and should have always been—the big thing.

Think about it: Technology exists because of our human nature and ingenuity. With or without it, people still need, for example, to collaborate globally and across industries, simplify daily activities, equalize economic prosperity, and remove bias to make less discriminatory hiring and promotion decisions. And nothing is more capable than we are in understanding these issues and the role technology plays to help improve them.

  1. Personal purpose is an asset at work.

Most successful leaders in business, government, and social causes understand that their personal purpose drives decisions and actions. Every day, they live out authentic lives by using their passions as a guide.

Your personal brand encompasses everything that you value, fight for, and stake your reputation on. It’s your purpose. It’s what makes you distinctively you. By knowing how technology can help you clearly articulate and fulfill your mission, you can lean into your purpose with vindication and lead with it.

  1. We must get fit for what’s next.

The convergence of digital technologies and physical workspaces is disrupting everyone from executives to interns. And with up to 47 percent of jobs susceptible to digital replacement within the next decade, there’s no better time to future-proof yourself.

To prepare for what’s next for your career, you should add two tasks to your to-do list:

Task 1: Become tech-fluent. Do your research on emerging technology, especially if your organization is not using it yet. Take this opportunity to reshape your work experience based on your strengths and skills.

Task 2: Make lifelong learning a daily habit. Understand the latest technology and the best practices and skills needed to support it. This level of self-awareness can help you defend the value of your role, find new ways to improve your job, and innovate processes that match implemented digital capabilities.

Corporation You: Treat Your Personal Digital Transformation Like a Business

Just as our employers are reinventing themselves, we must also actively evolve ourselves, accept risks, and think with insatiable curiosity, agility, focus, and openness.

Old rules need not apply here. There’s no such thing as a corporate ladder, magic ages for life's major milestones, or a specific retirement year. By breaking away from these traditional paths and owning the capabilities that technology offers, we can rediscover our value as creative, emotionally intelligent, and self-aware workers who will always be irreplaceable.

Reflect, rethink, reimagine, and innovate to prepare for now and years to come. Register today to attend our “Innovate You: Get Fit for What’s Next” road shows in Calgary or Vancouver. Or listen to our on-demand webcasts on digital transformation.