Futureproofing Your Career

Futureproofing Your Career

As I mentioned in my last post, futureproofing is generally thought of as a proactive approach to managing whatever change the future may hold.  Its goal, of course, is to minimize the negative and maximize the positive impacts of that change.  Think of it as the way you “turn lemons into lemonade.”

While the goal of futureproofing is clear enough, however, the reason we should now use it in managing our careers and the steps involved in doing so are less well understood.  So, I’ll use this and my next post to provide some clarity on both of those very important topics.

Why should Career Activists bother with futureproofing?  Simple.  There’s only one certainty in today’s workplace: Tomorrow will be different from today.  We’re now seeing more change more frequently than at any other time in the past 100 years or more.  And that change is increasingly disruptive … to our jobs, occupational fields, industries and, as a consequence, our careers.

You see, change is a two edged sword.  First, it alters what we need to know and can expect in each of those areas.  And second, that change is then complicated by other changes going on around it.  I call it the “mousetrap effect” – the world of work is now a giant stack of mousetraps so when change is tripped in one trap, it inevitably trips change in some or even all of the other traps.

For example, we know from experience over the past fifty years that Moore’s Law is an accurate gauge of the pace of technological change.  Gordon Moore was the CEO of Intel in 1965 when he predicted that technological advances would enable the power of computers to double every two years.  Later, he saw that even that breathtaking pace of change was accelerating and revised his estimate of the doubling period down to just eighteen months.

The mousetrap effect, however, means that this technological change will also produce change in other areas, especially in employment.  Whether you’re a grandmaster in chess or an assembly plant worker, a pharmaceutical sales rep or a marketing professional, that change will influence both the nature and security of your work.  And, that second order change will now occur every eighteen months or so.

Some of the disruption will be positive, some of it will be negative.  Some will have a minor effect – requiring only a seminar or two for you to make an effective adjustment – and some will be destabilizing and potentially career-threatening. It’s that uncertainty that futureproofing is designed to counteract.  We’re often told to “look before we leap” in our careers; today we must also “look before we get blindsided.”

Thanks for reading,
Peter