What the Future of HR is NOT and Why That’s Important

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My friend Paul Hebert gives me a good-natured ribbing about the fact that I write about the “future” and give presentations on it too. He will ask me about my crystal ball and what it is telling me today. I know he is joking with me, but many people do look at futurists as seers, sages or soothsayers, much like Johnny Carson used to introduce his character Carnac. As a writer on ‘futurist’ subjects around human resources I am not trying to tell you what the future will be, I cannot do that, nor will I pretend to do so. Certainly there are themes or trends that point to certain things happening, such as the increasing use of technology, as I wrote last week in Will Baby Monitor Technology lead to Employee Monitoring? Even though it is a trend that is no guarantee that it will occur, at least not occur in your company. Even though I cannot tell you what the future is, I can tell you what the future is not, so you can better be able to absorb and understand the increasing amount of information being written.

The future is not certain.

The only thing certain is that there is a future. (Some skeptics may dispute that, but I am an optimist.) No one can tell you what the future is other than it is. Certainly I can conjecture that robots will take over many jobs, and I have, but I cannot tell you a robot will take over your job. Telling you with certainty what the future is not the goal of a futurist. The goal of a futurist is, as said by Edward Cornish, “…is not to predict the future but to improve it.” By helping you understand what could be you will have an opportunity to improve conditions that will make a desired future more likely to occur.

That is why it is important to understand about what the future is not. You cannot rely on someone telling you what to be prepared to deal with. You have to be willing to interpret data to make an individual assessment for yourself and your company in order to prepare for a future you would like to see occur.

The future is not easy

Richard Watson, a futurist and scenario planner, said that by “..about thinking about things differently …you often end up thinking about ‘now’ (the present) in a new light.” That is why thinking about the future is important, and to that end I created the 7 Steps to being a practical HR futurist, which I published at Omega HR Solutions. I will let you read them there if you are interested as that is not the purpose of this post. You just need to realize that creating the future you want is not easy. You must be prepared to scan and study trends and to develop a variety of scenarios of possible futures. The more possible futures you consider the better prepared you will be to deal with what is presented to you.

Our futures will not be the same

Although we will generally be affected by many of the same trends that does not mean each of us, either as a company, a profession or as an individual, will be affected the same way. Some companies will disappear, some industries will disappear, and some professions will disappear. At the same time some of us will be affected by creation of new jobs, companies and industries that may or may not be an improvement.

I just want to emphasize that we have more control over our futures than we may think. We can guide our own behavior, we can improve our education, we can improve the companies we work for and we can alter our futures. Certainly disasters can always occur, the vaunted “black swan”, but even that can be somewhat prepared for.

My point of this is that you have to work on that preparation. Sitting on your butt watching things occur is not the solution. You must be active and proactive in order to help design the future you want to have.

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