by Heather Moore
In October, I was invited to speak to a group of mid- to late- career professionals in Helsinki, via a workshop entitled ‘Exploring the New Game´ curated by Grownups for Startups. In this workshop, I shared some insights from my work as a foresight and trend analyst, including how the landscape of work has changed and its impact on the future.
I shared a number of macro trends, or large developments that are taking place currently and continuing over the next 10 or more years, and two in particular I find worth paying special attention to:
1) A rapidly expanding aging population, globally increasing from 530.5 million in 2010 to roughly 800 million in 2020. And in Finland, 22.9% of the population will be 65 and older by 2020. 1
2) Recent medical advances and increases in life expectancy, are enabling a greater number of people to live longer both in Finland, as well as globally. 2
Need to reimagine careers
These developments are leading to a radical rethinking of aging and what it means for society, including the necessity of longer working careers and the need for more desirable and engaging services with specific needs in mind. Decreasing government social services available, coupled with a shortage of corporate employment, calls for an opportunity to reimagine what form these evolving careers could take.
Ever increasing digitalization disrupting careers of those older than 45
We are in an age of massive change in many aspects of life, and this is due in part to the evolution of technologies such as the internet, mobile phones and cloud computing. The subsequent push to make everything digital and to connect all things and people has forever changed life as we know it. For millennials, it may be all that they have known, and for anyone older than 45, it is hugely disruptive.
But technology is not the only thing at play. Millennials are increasingly happy to work on issues that they find meaningful or that align with their values, even at the expense of other factors such as salary and time off. As illustrated in a recent Deloitte survey, millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured not only by profit, but by how it can address societal challenges like resource scarcity (68 percent), climate change (65 percent) and income equality (64 percent). Additionally, 50 percent of Millennials surveyed want to work for a business with ethical practices. 3
Opportunity for older professionals to team up with younger generation to create new businesses and employment
Despite this obvious gap between both age groups, older workers might consider teaming up with younger entrepreneurs to create startups that address the specific needs of the aging population, or businesses that help to preserve some of the tradition and knowledge of older generations or regional populations that are in danger of being lost in the digital age. This type of partnership would leverage the energy, idealism and agility of millennials, and the experience and long-term perspective of older generations, while bringing meaningful social entrepreneurship opportunities to both.
You need to take ownership of your career and personal development
While it was once the responsibility of an employer to facilitate the trajectory of an employee’s career and personal development, it is increasingly the responsibility of everyone to take charge of their own development and evolution (as well as branding, marketing, PR, and building and extending your networks). Switching from a mindset of fixed talent, limited possibility and avoidance of failure, to one of constant learning, unlimited opportunity, and self-determination is absolutely necessary.
But how does one switch mindset?
In practice, improvisation is the best way of experiencing this switch. Improvisation is the practice of creating, problem solving, or acting in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment. In theater, there are rules to improvisation:
Rule 1: Agree and say “yes” (rather than trying to figure out reasons why something won’t work)
Rule 2: Not only say “yes”, but say “yes, AND…” (to build and further develop another’s ideas)
Rule 3: Play & experiment
Rule 4: There are no mistakes, only opportunities
Throughout the ‘New Game’ workshop in October, we ran through a number of improvisation exercises using these rules, and by the end, the entire group had gone through an amazing transformation. The energy at the end of the day, sparking new ideas and inspiration, rivaled that of a children’s design-a-thon recently facilitated in Berlin — perhaps proof that age itself can also be a mindset.
-Heather A. Moore is Founder & CEO of The Shape of Things, an innovation strategy, foresight & resilience consultancy based in Berlin. @hmoore
Picture from the Exploring the New Game workshop in October.