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Future of Work

Dear participant

As business students, we are embarking on an adventure – to discover this complex VUCA world.

Why do people say data is the new gold or the new oil? Oil has been in the ground for thousands of years. But until humans know how to tap it, the oil is useless.

So too with data. Today with supercomputers to tap the data, we have the birth of data analyst and the tools used, namely the Data scientific method.

Data scientific method:

  1. Ask a question.
  2. State a hypothesis about the answer to the question.
  3. Make a testable prediction that would provide evidence in favor of the hypothesis if correct.
  4. Test the prediction via an experiment involving data.
  5. Draw the appropriate conclusions through analyses of experimental results.

Knowing what question to ask is the first step because it helps clarify where the problem is. In BMGC, learn to understand the questions, they are handles for you to find the solution.

Dont memorise the answers because that can change.

The famous scientist Einstein was once asked why he set the same questions every year for final exams. To which he replied, the question is the same but the answers have changed. This is where data comes in. Data helps us know the answers have changed.

But first, learn the questions.

Generalist vs Specialist Skills. What skills are needed in the workplace? Which will help me advance in my career?

Specialisation is better

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/specialists-vs-generalists

A saying goes: Jack of all trades, master of none.

Mastery of skills gives humans satisfaction. Specialists, with a deeper understanding of subject matter, can better spot and seize on emerging opportunities. Specialists may also have an easier time collaborating because it’s clearer how the work can be shared.

According to the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, 65 per cent of Singapore employers favour technical skills, like project management, over soft skills, like problem-solving, when hiring new employees. 

Division of labor and specialisation is a chief source of productivity gains using the example of factory assembly line. Output per worker increases in multiples; the factory becomes extremely efficient in producing items.

Should I specialize my career as a specialist or as a generalist such as consulting where I’m exposed to a variety of experiences and skills?

According to “structure” proponents, organizing by function allows for task specialization leading to process efficiencies and production consistency (no variations in the end product). https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-data-science-teams-need-generalists-not-specialists?referral=03759&cm_vc=rr_item_page.bottom

When is specialisation not so hot?

Specialisation increases coordination costs whereas Generalists are better at moving between functions. 

Specialisation may have its detractors, with some suggesting that it leads to the “dulling of talent where workers become ignorant and insular as their roles are confined to a few repetitive task”.

Specialization may provide process efficiencies, some say, but it is less likely to inspire workers.

Are some sectors more prone to specialisation skills, e.g. engineering, medical research or cyber security, u need specialist skills surely. But it’s good generalist skills that will get u to the top.

https://hbr.org/2018/07/when-generalists-are-better-than-specialists-and-vice-versa

Interestingly researchers Theodoridis found that generalists were “strongest in fields with a slower pace of change. Example, oil and gas, mining, it might be harder for specialists to come up with new ideas and identify new opportunities, while generalists may be able to find inspiration” connecting the dots from other areas.

If you’re a Manager, would you prefer to employ specialists or generalist?

In fields with a faster pace of change, eg quantum computers and gene editing, the researchers found that “generalists may struggle to stay up to date, while specialists can more easily make sense of new technical developments and opportunities as they arise.”

Research also discovered that generalist roles drive job satisfaction providing: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy in that they are not dependent on someone else for success. Mastery in that they know the business capability from end-to-end. And, purpose in direct connection to the impact on the business they’re making.

Generalists are more passionate about their work and making a big impact on the company.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2020/07/23/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-its-not-personal-its-cultural/

Generalists =Mastery + Versatile + More tools in your toolbox.

Google’s Project Oxygen used internal company data to identify what makes a great manager. The list of traits of Google’s best managers revealed coaching, empowerment and inclusivity among the key skills for effective leadership. Tellingly, technical and specialist skills do not appear on this list. 

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https://qz.com/1712239/a-childrens-book-about-the-global-economy-and-the-future-of-work/

A children’s book about the global economy and the future of work — Quartz

Quartz’s Dan Kopf and Bárbara Abbês, Alphabet for the Next Global Economy

A is for Automation,
That great destroyer of jobs,
In the olden days,
It brought out the mobs
It can also be great,
Something people can dig,
The agricultural revolution for example,
Farming was a really hard gig
The effect is complicated,
It creates and it ends,
Is it going to hurt you?
Hard to know, it depends

This is what I call creativity. Combining two simple ideas and creating a fabulous and essential product. References to American companies like Uber which may confuse some.

Whats better, the words rhyme and comes as an audiobook. Three simple ideas into another outstanding product.

Im definitely trying to buy some as gifts for Christmas. Useful not only for children but for most of us trying to learn the vocabulary of the new normal.

A will be Agile or Adapt to the changing trends. With change, we certainly see no end.

If you were to recreate your own alphabet set, what’s A for you?

Today, the government is serious, a fine of $300 will be imposed on anyone who defies safe distancing rules. I discover, during this period, that I’m a sociable Introvert. Telecommuting is not the heaven I imagine it to be.

In Singapore, we even have a dish that requires us to engage socially, the lo-hei, a raw dish salad dish that we toss and wish each other blessings. Networking is the oil which culture is passed. Covid-19 is spread across this networking.

I am digging up a book by Michael Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. Social anthropologists such as Dunbar have long hypothesized that a species’ brain size or its neocortex is a function of its social group. Most animals have brains in proportion to their body size – species with larger bodies often have larger brains. But humans have bigger brains, six times larger than that expected for our body size.

This has puzzled researchers, as the brain is draining resource – burning 20% of the body’s energy while accounting for only 4% of its mass.

As evolution tends to eliminate waste, how did humans evolve large, energy-consuming brains?

A dominant hypothesis suggests that challenging social interactions were the driving force. Ecological problems only lead to human-sized brains when individuals can keep learning hard skills as they grow. When individuals learn from allies their culturally accumulated knowledge, such as making fire. Mauricio González-Forero and those of others suggest that a hard ecology and the accumulation/ transmission of cultural knowledge socially could act in concert to produce a human sized brain.

Why do we need to connect? Whether you believe in evolution or are a creationist, research seems to point that human survival is wired for it.

There is a price tag on relationships. Studies on the brain’s reward center, which turns on when people feel pleasure, found that the brain’s reward centre was indeed more active when people gave $10 to charity than when they received $10.  Emily Esfahani Smith

But the law of nature demands that sometimes, we have to be alone. A caterpillar enters a cocoon stage before it transforms into a butterfly. To transform from the ordinary world to the world of adventure, a hero needs to cross the threshold of tension between safety and growth. There is an illusion of safety when we hold on the familiar. Or now, during covid-19 when being safe means to keep a social distance.

The path of transformation starts with recognising that the pull of the familiar which is no longer relevant.

  1. Know thyself. To embark on a hero’s journey of personal transformation, start with self knowledge. There are several tools you can try: Strengths based VIA, or Jung influenced 16 personalities. As Socrates puts it, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
  2. Future Self. While most strengths based instruments look at your top 5 strengths, another use of the VIA, is to examine the bottom 5 strengths that are underutilised or ignored. In my case, it is “creativity”, “zest” and “leadership”. This period of isolation gives me the space to map out where I want to be one year from now and the road map to get there.
  3. Goal-setting. World renowned educator and business coach, Marshall Goldsmith, Career Coach suggests in “What got you here, won’t get you there”, that we ask 6 questions with our team, “Where are you going”, “Where are we going”, “What are some suggestions for improvement”, “How can I help”, “What are some suggestions for me to be a better manager”. Some goals to work on, could be to ask yourself daily questions. “Did I do my best today” to: be happy, have positive relationships, meaning work towards my goals. Take up courses at Linkedin Learning or learn UX at GA.
  4. Build Accountability. “In leading through relationships”, Leadership Imagineer,Simon Bailey suggests that you can either get a coach or an accountability partner to go on the journey with you on developing yourself. Meet via Skype or any technology platform.
  5. Virtual Watercooler. One of the things we miss about going to work is bumping into colleagues at the pantry, or popping into your boss office for a quick check-in. Or catch up on office gossip during lunch, or on the way to the washroom. All that is gone with WFH. Teams at General Assembly have moved their happy hours online, as that is part of social grooming which is a necessary part of working life and building company culture. Others have created online exercise time together.
  6. Transition. Before WFH, the commute time from work to home allows the brain to decompress and signal that we are entering a different space. With WFH, that demarcation is gone and the overspill can create some form of anxiety or stress. Go for a walk- with your mask on, or play some music. Visualise the evening or start a gratitude journal on how you’ve survived another day.

In the meantime, stay safe. Only two more weeks to go.

Photo credit: NL, Taxi drivers having a conversation while waiting for customers, Okinawa 2018

One of the things I missed about being self employed is not having colleagues to try out new lunch venues or chill at tea, “whatsup” catching up with office gossip, and especially the learning workshops we were forced to attend. And the travelling. Which was quite fun, since it was only 10%, in my work – no budget. The free newspapers, so essential to keeping up with research and client information.

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While I enjoy managing my own time, minimal department meetings, no office politics (I still have a boss. My clients are my boss.), there is a downside to being a free lancer/ gig economy worker/ self employed. Lonely. Iron sharpens iron. (Confessions of an introvert.)

How do freelancers thrive in the future of work?

NTUC has set up a chapter for Free lancers and self employed, check out their facebook.

There will be an upcoming 2 day workshop to equip free lancers with digital skills, considering that coaches can still be paid through cash, app, and internet banking.

Step One: Company Name and type of work

First, think of a name for your company and register it with the government. Set up an ACRA account. Its not difficult. https://www.acra.gov.sg/

How do you use your time wisely as a tennis coach, if classes are cancelled on a rainy day?

Today, many of the younger generation prefer to be self employed. Digital tools have made it possible.

Step Two: Join NTUC FSE

Join a community. Why? Social, getting ideas, learn something. Example, how to pitch yourself?

There are a number of associations to join:

Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals
Screenwriters Association (Singapore)
IoTalents for online and IT workforce
Caregiver Asia
Creatives at Work (CAW) for media freelancers
Tueetoer (for free lance tutors)

Step three: Market yourself

Get a professionally done photograph, nothing fancy, but very presentable @ caregivers asia. You can check out the photographs done for their freelance caregivers. Joel Tam.

You can start a Facebook, Instagram or even Blog. Register with a number of providers like Fiverr, Upwork, Tueetor etc.

72 Best Freelance Jobs Websites to Get Remote Freelance Work (Fast)

You can create a podcast with your mobile or a youtube video.

For a lady who does storytelling for children. She was articulating the benefits of her course. Learning while playing. Joel articulated that her blog could include a simple Powtoons tip of the day for parents, “Three things your child can play while learning without realising.”

Even creating Infographics. I especially like the tip of how Joel broke into writing reviews for cars. He took a photograph of his own car and sent it to major automotive brands. Wow. Such a simple and impactful idea. Sometimes, just talking to someone who has done it, helps break down the “barriers in our head”.

Many of the self employed entrepreneurs I discovered, wear multiple hats and have multiple streams of income. Joel is Marketing Director at Caregivers as well as Care review etc.

Recognise that you need T-shaped skills. Deep expertise, applied to different businesses.

An important tip he shared was, if you have 70,000 followers on your Instagram account, but they are not in your target market, then you may want to start afresh. Localise your content. Especially for freelancers working towards a local clientele.

Step 4: How do you hook clients with a strong pitch?

In your self introduction, dont just talk about ideas. Talk about yourself as an idea. Your transformational journey, eg from a chemical engineer to a muay thai instructor, and how those little bits of you are combined to make you who you are today.

Not just another mindfulness instructor, but a sports coach who combines mindfulness in the journey.

What are three superhero characteristics you bring, from your life journey?

I was a _________. (Painpoint: A conflict I felt _________. I decided to ________. The pivot helped me _____________.

So what are you waiting for?

From IQ to EQ to AQ

Adaptability Quotient

Anticipate needs and create opportunities
Drive positive energy
Accelerate constant innovation
Partner: exchange ideas and
Trust: mutual growth

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Photo credit: himself taken at the Singapore Bird Park.

According to a study by Kornferry only 15% of leaders have what it takes to self- disrupt and be ready for the future.

How are you equipping yourself for this change?

Introducing: A new breed of future-ready leaders – Korn Ferry Focus
https://focus.kornferry.com/leadership-and-talent/introducing-a-new-breed-of-future-ready-leaders/

Southeast Asia: An Emerging Market With Booming Digital Growth https://www.visualcapitalist.com/southeast-asia-digital-growth-potential/ Singapore Startup Grants Funding Sources – 2018 Guide | Business Funding https://www.startupdecisions.com.sg/singapore/incentives/startup-funding-sources/ 16 Singapore Start-Up Grants and Schemes | Rikvin https://www.rikvin.com/incorporation/funding-options-for-singapore-startups/ Funding Options for Singapore Startups | Rikvin https://www.rikvin.com/incorporation/funding-options-for-singapore-startups/ http://hollandinnovation.sg/start-up-ecosystem-in-singapore/ https://www.techinasia.com/startup-guide-singapores-tech-scene Thailand https://aseanup.com/thailand-startup-ecosystem/ Social Impact Hong Kong Start Up Community https://www.whub.io/ http://cogsagency.com/looking-for-people/everything-need-know-opening-start-hong-kong/ Start-up networking in …

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US President Trump has made a clear statement about US not subsidising the rest of the world, and imposing tariffs on its trade partners. We also see US and UK companies increase their investments in Asia bypassing tariffs.

Without the backing of political relations, will US companies finally look at increasing local relevance rather than exporting US based designs and R&D?

Especially in the digital and security space where US companies dominate, we are seeing intra regional trade, ASEAN, India-China, China-Korea and Europe-Asia Pacific as engines of growth.

These are some areas to watch out, especially in Digital innovation and the disruptive stress it brings, we see growth in the beauty/wellness/ entertainment sector, food security, cybersecurity and the financial sector that fuels these disruption!

  • Industry 4.0

    Urban Solutions and Infrastructure
    Companies investing in Digital Innovation Lab in Singapore
    Dyson
    Amazon
    ABB
    Alibaba
    Danone
    Google
    Microsoft
    Facebook
    Syngenta
    Schneider Electric


  • Beauty/ Wellness area
    20-30% increase
    Luxury brands driven by Milinieals
    Globally, the average age of people buying Porsches is 56, according to Dong Tao, a prominent economist with Credit Suisse. In China, the average buyer is just 36. Nikkei


  • Digital entertainment

    Digital content
    Razer
    Garner
    Major brands spend 40-50% on digital marketing in China

  • Digital Finance
    Fintech


  • Asia Pacific Hub
    Cybersecurity
    Finance
    HR/ Recruitment
    Organisation Development and Learning
    Taxation

What Singapore lacks in space and scale, its assets are density, connectivity and location between East and West, hub to East Asia and South East Asia. Singapore is an excellent test bed and pilot for new technology.

Singapore has been an early supporter of the BRI. Nearly a third of China’s total outbound investments to BRI countries flows through Singapore; while Singapore’s investments in China also account for 85 per cent of total inbound investments from BRI countries. ST

  • What are some trends shaping your industry?

Southeast Asia: An Emerging Market With Booming Digital Growth
https://www.visualcapitalist.com/southeast-asia-digital-growth-potential/

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Alibaba Hema Supermarket eating live seafood cooked on the spot
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Starbucks Reserve

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Getting your portraits done in Lego blocks for 999RMB only. ONLY?

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In Shanghai, brands are fighting online consumption by creating experiences for their customers.

Whether it is your own portraits done in Lego bricks, or creating your unique Nike designer shoes, to creating mini stadiums to cheer your favourite team in the Adidas concept stores. Everything is created for instammgramable moments.