It’s a networked world… and we’re just living in it

In their 2016 edition of the video, “Too Big to Know”, Fisch and McLeod present a picture of a highly connected and networked world population.  Three billion of the world’s population are connecting to the internet.  Students are being prepared in school for jobs that do not yet exist and according to the US Department of Labor, they will leave that job for another over ten times by the age of thirty-eight.  For many of us, this world seems a bit foreign when compared to the one in which we grew up.  In an interview this morning on Morning Joe, US Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska stated that the United States is “going through one of the largest economic disruptions in human history.”  He adeptly described this time of uncertainty by noting that we call this age the “post-industrial era” because we don’t know what to call it.

So, how do we deal with a changing and more networked society?  One particular challenge that we face in the age when information is at all of our fingertips is not allowing some in society to be left behind.  The Pew Research Center conducted survey research on the use of the internet among adults in job seeking activities.  They found that while more people are applying for jobs and using online resources to search for employment, more than one in ten do not have the skills to do things considered standard practice in most industries today such as filling out an online job application or communicating with potential employers via email.   Results of the research of Nahsa, DaCosta, Kinsell, and Seok (2010) suggests that one’s digital propensity is dependent on factors such as age and socioeconomic status, placing some at a disadvantage in an ever-changing world.  Yet, with all that said, there are still opportunities for positive outcomes.

Smith and Anderson reported on 2014 research by the Pew Research Center on the future of jobs and the internet.  Respondents to the Pew research spoke of the potential inequality that is created by a more networked and technological world.  Additionally, it was acknowledged that the US educational system is not adequately preparing students for this changing landscape.  Opportunities still persist, however.  Respondents to their survey noted that by relying on human ingenuity has proven successful in the past and that by investing in education, technology, and infrastructure in a more connected world, society can thrive.

This networked and connected world will create new challenges for leaders, who will need to seek out a different workforce in the future.  Leaders will need to change and adapt to the more connected world and workforce.  Jane McConnell wrote in The Organization in the Digital Age that as people and work evolve with technology, there are far reaching implications.  Naisbitt’s megatrend of “high touch” comes to mind as we must remember that technology does not remove the necessity of responsibility and discipline in leadership.  Weinberger stated though that great benefit can be achieved by working outside of the traditional hierarchical lines.  The leader must seek to understand the networked worker who may be very different from a traditional employee, but who can prove valuable to a progressive organization.

Embracing the networked and connected workforce may prove extremely beneficial to an organization.  The linked infographic describes skills such as new media literacy and cognitive load management which are representative of the networked individual and can provide value to an organization.  In a world where vast amounts of information and data must now be filtered, those with the familiarity to do so in an effective and efficient manner will be of great value.

In the same infographic linked above, there is also a reference to a transdisciplinary skill.  As Rainie noted in a presentation given to the KMWorld Conference, our workplaces are now multidisciplinary and rely on individuals outside of the traditional structure of the organization in many cases.  We need team members with a broad range of experience and perspective in order to compete in a frequently changing landscape.  Those who can work with diverse partners both within and outside of the organization will be highly sought after and provide value to an organization far beyond what might be found in a traditional job description.

So, it is true that the world may not look the way many of us remember it and Senator Sasse was absolutely correct in that this new world is largely a disruption to the status quo.  Yet, there is an opportunity to thrive in the networked world if we are willing to rely on the ingenuity and expertise of networked individuals to help show us a new way.

-The Ayes Have It

Reference

Nasah, A., DaCosta, B., Kinsell, C., & Seok, S. (2010). The digital literacy debate: An

investigation of digital propensity and information and communication technology.

Educational Technology Research & Development, 58(5), 531-555. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-

9151-8

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8 thoughts on “It’s a networked world… and we’re just living in it

  1. I like the comment that we call this the post-industrial era because we do not know what to call it. Maybe…and maybe we still try to apply industrial era policies which no longer work well. I was struck by your comment “…The leader must seek to understand the networked worker who may be very different from a traditional employee, but who can prove valuable to a progressive organization.” With four generations at work, I am no longer sure what “a traditional worker” is? How do we as leaders manage all four to proactively grow the organization and achieve mission and vision?

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    • Thanks for your comments and your question, Dr. Watwood. You make an excellent point. What your statement about the “traditional” worker reveals is that I, like many others perhaps, think of the traditional worker as the type I am most familiar with. With four generations who have different experiences, backgrounds, and styles working together, I think the first thing that leaders should do is acknowledge that differences exist between these groups. It cannot simply be assumed that some great leader is going to get everyone on the same page and working in the same way.

      A Harvard Business Review article by Rebecca Knight in 2014 (https://hbr.org/2014/09/managing-people-from-5-generations) points out that we are about to enter an age where five generations are working together at once. Knight’s article encourages managers and leaders to move beyond the stereotypes of these generational labels and focus on trying to build collaborative opportunities for employees of different generations so that they can learn from one another and help the organization thrive. I, for one, think that would be a great start!

      -The Ayes Have It

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      • Thanks for sharing your thoughtful post. I also really appreciate the Knight (2014) HBR article you referenced in the comment above. I found her suggestion to study and to know one’s employees (the same way one might study or know a product line) a very practical strategy for leaders operating with a digital workforce in today’s age (whatever we may call it). Knowing that a great web of ingenuity and expertise exists around us is one thing…but really tapping into it is another. I have been mindful of this and am taking some steps to understand my team better (one example, we recently completed the DiSC inventory and had a half-day retreat in which we learned about everyone’s individual work style and implications for communication). Do you have any ideas on what leaders might do to advance this effort?
        -EA

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  2. Ayes,

    Great post! It is interesting to consider the placement of a world that is rich in digital technology. The stone age, bronze age, and iron age are all classified by the predominant technology in use. Ben Sasse suggests “post-industrial era” but that classification just tells us what the last age was. Weinberger (2011) and McConnell (http://www.organization-digital-age.com/) would seem to classify us in the Digital Age. Our preeminent technology is the transistor, the chip is the heart of are postmodern devices (http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/physics/integrated_circuit/history/).

    You make an excellent point that embracing a networked and connected workforce may greatly benefit organizations, and show new ways. In a TechCrunch article, Wadhera proposed that the Internet is enabling a layering of technologies, beginning with real experience and moving to network, device, sensor, platform, and app (https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/09/the-information-age-is-over-welcome-to-the-experience-age/). This creates digital opportunities that differ from those based on the use of past information (e.g., potentially outdated profiles) that might not be the best representation of a current market. It takes a networked and connected workforce to realize these connections, and determine how they might bring competitive advantage.

    -CatOnKB

    References
    Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York, NY: Basic Books.

    Like

    • “…The stone age, bronze age, and iron age are all classified by the predominant technology in use…”

      If you think back to my Welcome Intro video, I included a little “history” lesson that noted that humans first banded together about 200,000 years ago, moved out of Africa 70,000 years ago, began creating images 40,000 years ago, and left evidence of stories 17,000 years ago and games 8,000 years ago. Now, the concepts of social, mobile, visual, storytelling, and gaming can be found in our phones or tablets! Maybe this is the “It’s All Coming Together” Age…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ayes,
    I find it fascinating how the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqZiIO0YI7Y&feature=youtu.be) discussed how we as a society are preparing students for jobs that have not been created yet-this boggled my mind, and yet, how true it is. As we have seen in our lives, search engine optimization (SEO) did not exist twenty years ago and now SEO has and continues to be an important. To ensure that you (and others) know what SEO means, I included a link (http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo) that I feel helps explain the importance of SEO. My first exposure to SEO was in my position as a Director of Operations at a community health center. I was the one-woman marketing department in addition to wearing other hats (responsibilities). In my role, I was working on establishing a new website for the health center, in addition to ensuring that our contact information was prevalent in places potential consumers would look. I learned so much in my role. One question that I always wonder is what will be the next SEO thing? As we have seen in our lives, old technology has been replaced by new technology. An example of this can be seen with cassette tapes being replaced by cds and mp3 files.

    Thank you,
    Keshia

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  4. The Ayes Have It-

    I found your post to be interesting. The idea that students are having to prepare for jobs that do not exist yet is scary to me. For one, students pay a lot of money for a college education, and so often they are encouraged to specialize. This means some of the skills they are paying to develop will be useless to them. Second, for the students that are struggling to close the achievement gap, a quality education with in-demand skills is critical to their overall success in life. An article by Grothaus (2015) indicated that many of the most demanded jobs today would be obsolete by 2025. Grothaus (2015) listed several jobs that will be sought after in the future. These jobs require a mix of technical skills and new media knowledge. Also, there seems to be a trend towards freelancing. As an educator at a college, I have to wonder how to offer programs and classes that will give students an education that will serve them well no matter the dynamics of the workforce.

    Shelli

    Grothaus, M. (2015). The top jobs in 10 years might be what you expect. Fast Company. Retrieved from: https://www.fastcompany.com/3046277/the-new-rules-of-work/the-top-jobs-in-10-years-might-not-be-what-you-expect

    Like

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