The Five Aspects of the Future Keeping MBA Students Awake at Night

Lynda Gratton, a friend of the Boostzone Institute, a professor at the LSE  and the author of an outstanding blog on the future of work  released yesterday the following post. This is so much in line with what we are working on currently that I really wanted to share this with everyone of our followers.

Dominique Turcq

Post from Lynda:

What happens when 70 MBA and Sloan students from the London Business School spend a week talking about the future of work and creating vignettes for a day in the life in 2030? That was the question on my mind last Sunday as I made the final preparation for a one-week programme I was running about the future of work. A week later and after many, many conversations and some incredible presentations, I can now tell you. Here is what is on their minds…

Why are we blind about CO2?

The presentations from a senior executive from Shell and Professor Michael Blowfield from Oxford University made absolutely clear that the number one priority for this group and their children is significantly reducing CO2 emissions. Unless this is achieved, the research points to significant and long lasting climate change. What the class was worried about was whether we are going to be able to take short term pain for long term gain, why Business Schools don’t make more of this global challenge, and what role they can personally play.

How do we stop our world from fragmenting?

This group is already being trained by technology – to keep their Blackberries on 24/7, to respond in a nanosecond, and to get used to being interrupted every 3 minutes. But this is already significantly reducing their capacity to concentrate and to really focus on learning and developing. How can they learn to train the technology rather than be trained by it? We talked hopefully about ‘cognitive assistants’, the technology butlers who anticipate our every need, analyze and prioritize our incoming mail and basically keep the crazy world of information overload at bay. But these could take years to develop and come to the market – and in the meantime, we remain in an ever more fragmenting world.

What does it mean to be a master?

I’ve argued in the first of the shifts in my new book The Shift – that the age of the generalist is over, taking with it much of what was the role of the middle manager. Being a generalist might have worked in the past – but it sure won’t work for the future. But that leaves the challenge of what to become a master in, how to achieve mastery and when to morph or slide into another area of mastery.

What will I do when I am 65?

A significant proportion of people in the class will live until they are at least 100 and few can count on being able to retire at 60 for 40 years of leisure. They will simply have to work longer. But doing what? Most of the vignettes my students designed for the year 2030 (when many will be in their 50’s and 60’s) described themselves with portfolio lives working as consultants. But how realistic is this? Right now it is well near impossible to become a consultant at the age of 65 – and what will change this?

How am I going to be a good parent?

Many of the MBA and Sloan students at London Business School come from successful families with hard-working fathers and mothers. They understand the choices their parents made to create a comfortable life for them – but they are also faced head on with the consequences. Fathers seldom at home, mothers under real stress as they try to juggle a family and work. Of course that’s not to say that this group won’t want to live the same work-focused lives – but they are faced with the consequences of this in a way their parents were not. What choices will they make about the family lives they craft?

It was a great week – raising some crucial issues. Do you have any thoughts on how they face these five challenges?

End of Quote

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