Prefer Harvard MBA or High-Ranking WOW Master?

What will it take to build a culture of engaged innovators who can keep our organizations successful? How do we spot the capabilities that will matter in the future? One corporate hiring manager summed it up this way: I’d rather hire a high-level master of World of Warcraft than a Harvard MBA.

In his 10 Ways to Survive the Future: A Guide to 21st Century Business, Mike Walsh says that the most frightening visions of the future are not the ones full of killer robots, civilization-ending asteroids, or mutating nanotechnology. Far more terrifying is the idea of a world that looks almost exactly like the one we live in now, but in which all the rules have changed.

“Think about it,” says Walsh. “Our society might not appear so different today than it was 20 years ago at the dawn of the Web, and yet, behind the scenes, just imagine how many trillions of dollars of value have shifted, how many industries have been disrupted and how many entirely new business models have been created!”

Walsh, a well-known futurist and author of the Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas, delivered his tips for preparing for the future at the SHRM Talent Management Conference and Exhibition, held recently in San Diego.

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No More Landlines?

Walsh asked his audience, “How many of you have gotten rid of your landlines?” About half of the attendees raised their hands. “And that’s us,” Walsh added. (“Us” being an audience of people older than Gen Z.) Five years ago, he says, there was no Airbnb, and Netflix was delivering by mail.

The important message is that things are going to change in ways that we can’t understand. Things that we are doing now we won’t be doing 5 years from now. And the people we hire won’t be doing what we hired them to do.

Data Driven

Will data make us better leaders, or take away the need for leaders? Walsh asks. Whichever, says Walsh, we need to be careful of data. It’s all too easy to fall into the correlation/causation trap; that is, assuming that because things are correlated, one caused the other. His example? “There is a 94% correlation between the consumption of cheese and the number of people strangled by bedsheets.”

Do you have data-driven decision-making culture? Does your team feel empowered to run small experiments and adjust strategy based on the information that generates? Or are they under pressure to make the right decision the first time? Online retailers are a good example of a data-driven culture. They have to know how to attract customers. They are exceptionally good at being data-driven because they live and die by their ability to drive traffic effectively. Traffic is not a constant because human behavior is always shifting. So, rather than just coming up with big marketing strategies, online retailers are constantly running experiments. They A/B test e-mail subject lines. They test imagery, product placement, and algorithms. They use data at a tactical level because the feedback they get from experiments helps them make decisions more intelligently.

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Florence Nightingale

Incidentally, says Walsh, the famous nurse Florence Nightingale was the first to show how to visualize data. She used a form of a pie chart, a novel idea at the time, to show the causes of mortality during the Crimean War. Do you have a recruiting metric display that’s as telling as this?

In tomorrow’s Advisor, more of Walsh’s tips for the future, plus an introduction to BLR’s new interactive webinar, Video Interviewing: Effective Recruiting Tips for HR.