I recently read an interview called Radically open: Tom Friedman on jobs, learning, and the future of work from issue 21 of the Deloitte Review at Deloitte Insights. This is such a robust, thought-provoking interview as it related to today and tomorrow. In the interview, author Thomas Friedman gives his take on the future of work and the future of learning as it relates to people in the workforce, teachers and parents. Following is simply a personal summary of my key take-aways from the interview. What might you add?
According to Friedmand, the future of work is embodied by “the Uber platform model, and the way it is turning a job into work and monetizing work” This model “will have a huge impact on the future of learning. Because if work is being extracted from jobs, and if jobs and work are being extracted from companies – and because…we’re now in a world of flows – then learning has to become lifelong. We have to provide both the learning tools and the learning resources for lifelong learning when your job becomes work and your company becomes a platform.” Friedman speaks to how AT&T partners with Udacity to create “nano-degree courses” for those skills they most want to hone in their employees. In a sense, this notion is similar to what we say in schools. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist. Friedman shares a similar thought in that “the future of companies is to be hiring people and constantly training people to be prepared for a job that has not been invented yet.”
What’s more is Friedman contends that we need to “do something that would strike many [if not ourselves] as deeply counterintuitive.” For him, “rule number one is you want to be radically open” to divergent ideas and opinions. Friedman argued in The World is Flat that “‘Whatever can be done, will be done.’ The only question is, ‘Will it be done by you or to you?,’ but it will be done.” In the interview he shares the example of General Electric and how they took into account the weight of airplane engine fastener and its impact on efficiency and cost.
In this age of information and with lifelong learning in mind, Friedman suggests that “we need to teach filtering, literally, to our students. There should be Filtering 101, Filtering 102, Filtering 103. How do I filter information so I get enough of it to advance, but not so much that I’m overwhelmed? How do I filter news?” In the deepest sense, we want to help our students with being critical consumers of information through artful filtering.
So what’s the future of school and home according to Friedman? He suggests that it is 95% about people (teachers and parents). He shares that how he became a journalist was not because he was good at journalism, but because his journalism teacher inspired him. Teachers can inspire students to engage in and love content that they may not think they are good at. Friedman couples the importance of teachers with the fact that it is also “so much about parenting and good values that you nurture at home: love of learning, love of reading. I think we want the public schools, or the charter schools, or whatever, to remediate all the problems of parenting, and there’s no teacher who’s good enough to do that.”
With all that said, what would Friedman argue is the most important survival skill for children today? Learn to love learning! So, how do we do this? Friedman shares his formula from the World is Flat. “PQ + CQ will always be greater than IQ. You give me a young person or employee with a high passion quotient and a high curiosity quotient, high PQ and high CQ, and I’ll take them over the person with a high intelligence quotient, IQ, seven days a week. PQ + CQ are always greater than IQ.”
Take a look at the end of the interview where Friedman talks about his notion of STEMpathy to build on the concept that machines do not show courage or empathy. STEMpathy “jobs that combine science, technology, engineering, and math with human empathy, the ability to connect with another human being. When you put those two things together in a manager or in an employee, I think you have the sweet spot of where work has to go.”
Ultimately, Friedman ends the interview providing to us the five pieces of advice that he offers to his daughter:
- Always think like an immigrant – “We’re all new immigrants to the age of accelerations.”
- Always think like an artisan – “So always do your job [in a way that] you bring so much empathy to it, so much unique, personal value-add, that it cannot be automated, digitized, or outsourced, and that you want to carve your initials into it at the end of the day.”
- Always be in beta – “If you ever think of yourself as a finished product, you’re probably finished…Always be in beta.”
- Always remember that PQ + CQ is greater than IQ – “Give me a young person with a high passion quotient and a high curiosity quotient and I will take them over a kid with a high intelligence quotient seven days a week.”
- Always think like a waitress at Perkins Pancake House in Minneapolis – “Think entrepreneurially.”
Want more from Thomas Friedman? Check out the 8-minute video below where he shares his views on how fast the world is changing, and how students can find a job in it. The video includes excerpts from Friedman’s “conference on the innovation economy, leading minds from Google, M.I.T. and LinkedIn talk about education, resume building, interviewing and marketing to meet the realities of today. And the years to come.”