An Instructional Designers’ Challenge Straight Out Of Davos
Davos, Switzerland, is where the world’s business and academic elites gather each year for the World Economic Forum. What gets discussed there matters to all of us; a lot!
The talk there this past week has not been about yesterday’s news: China’s economy, the price of oil, or the sectarian feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the subsequent market gyrations. Those gathered in Davos are talking about something else: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and its consequences. The debate is not about if we are in this new age, but what it means.
The fact is that new technologies are about to transform how we live – for the fourth time! And this time it is profoundly different in kind and in speed.
According to the economics editor of The Independent,
“The first Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 1700s harnessed first water power, then steam, to drive a string of connected changes that enabled living standards to increase by around 2 per cent a year. In the final years of the 19th century the second revolution was under way, with factories driven by electricity rather than steam. From the 1970s came the personal computer, the internet: The whole bundle of technologies of the communications or IT revolution, which we are living with now. This has been dubbed the Third Industrial Revolution.”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution involves much more transformative technologies than the PC and the mainframe computer manufacturers could have dreamt of. Artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, Big Data, mobile telephony, and 3D printing are happening at a torrid pace and impacting us in deep-seated ways that we will only realize after the fact.
Most importantly for Instructional Designers, trainers, educators, and curriculum designers is the fact that machines that talk to machines to get things done without human intervention are emerging fast. Machines talking to machines without human intervention is going to be a renaissance event and it will happen for one reason: Cost savings and a boost for returns on investments; just like in the other three industrial revolutions. Adam Smith was right about free-market economies in the mid eighteenth century and he is still right.
Health care and financial services will almost certainly be amongst the first to adopt theses new ideas and technologies. But no matter what business you are in, it will affect you just as much as the last three industrial revolutions affected your instruction-designing forebears.
This is not bad news, unless you ignore the new realities. In this new industrial age Instructional Designers, and all those involved with learning and training, need to be leaders – Thought Leaders in fact. Who but those in the training and learning arena can take this new paradigm and help us adapt to it?
As with all those innovations that came before, thought leaders can leverage them or fall victim to them.
I have been around long enough to know that it was the trainers –those who understood the capabilities and the changes that mainframe computers could bring about– who helped others leverage that change. Now as then, those who ignore the need for the ongoing renewal of training and instruction do so at their peril.
It is no different today. We are once again dealing with never-before-seen issues. Instructional Designers, Trainers and Curriculum Designers are, and always will be, at the cutting edge of how a company deals with new realities.
The best news in all this is that the intellectual keys to dealing with these new realities are the same as they have always been: Critical Thinking. Collaboration. Problem-Solving. Communications. The Soft Skills.
The other piece of good news is that people can be trained in these Soft Skills.
To understand how you can become a Thought Leader by developing the instructional skills necessary to train people in the four soft skills, click here. Spend thirty minutes with my free demonstration and you will become a best-practice expert in designing instruction driven by the demand for these soft but crucial skills.
Think. Communicate. Solve. Collaborate.