3 rules to influence new world

Futurist Mike Walsh offers advice to navigate the future.

August 12, 2022

While many wonder when we’ll return to a pre-pandemic world or figure out what the “new normal” will be, futurist Mike Walsh says people should focus their attention on what the new world will look like and how to succeed in it.

“This is the dawn of a new world, a world that will run on a new set of rules,” says Walsh, CEO of Tomorrow. “Many are wondering what a post-pandemic world will look like as we come out of this crisis. Ultimately, it will be up to us and the decisions we make now.”

During the Discovery2022 Conference, Walsh offered three rules that will influence how our world will operate in the future:

1. There is no digital disruption, just digital delivery

Disruptors used to be viewed as organizations that had something special, but “we’re all disruptors now,” Walsh says. Think big and bold, and look to the youngest generation—your kids—for a “ringside seat” to the future because they’ve only known a life that has been shaped by algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Keep these insights in mind:

  • There will be a shift from products to building platforms. Consider Tesla. It didn’t just build an electric vehicle, it created an automotive business that spans from the decision to purchase a vehicle to the financing, upgrades, and service. “Tesla adds value to its products, but it’s built an end-to-end platform,” he says.
  • There will be a shift from transactions to experiences. Companies like Uber and Netflix make you forget about how much you pay per transaction. Instead, they focus on value delivery and the experience rather than the fees and transaction costs.
  • There will be a shift from automation to autonomy. Consider new forms of finance or blockchain, which are both different ways of engaging people and allowing them to take a stake in owning a part. Not only are more people thinking of cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens, they’re considering how they’re structured and run, Walsh says.

“Digital transformation has begun,” he says. “Every organization in the future will be a software company.”

‘This is the dawn of a new world, a world that will run on a new set of rules.’
Mike Walsh

2. There is no remote work, just work

Embracing technology to carry out work just changes the hardware used to complete work. Instead, the more critical aspect is the culture, or the system of interactions and how employees make decisions, collaborate, and get things done.

In this environment, successful businesses will share five characteristics:

  1. Mobility: where and how decisions get made.
  2. Autonomy: the capacity to complete work without strong central control and something that is important in attracting, engaging, and inspiring the smartest new talent.
  3. Memory: what it takes to be a learning organization.
  4. Objectivity: the power of data to challenge traditional processes.
  5. Velocity: the speed an organization can respond to change.

“Remote work is the beginning of a much bigger transformation that’s changing the nature of business,” Walsh says.

3. Artificial intelligence will not destroy jobs, but it will change them

Instead of asking how AI will eliminate jobs, ask how it will change jobs and the role of leaders. Algorithmic leaders need a deep understanding of human complexity plus computational skills, such as how to use data. 

Three principles should guide these leaders:

  1. When you automate, elevate. It’s hard to find good talent. Understand how to retrain people to excel in a new environment.
  2. Don’t work, design work. Determine if there’s a smarter way to carry out work.
  3. Get better at embracing uncertainty and handling ambiguity. Be open minded and curious about new ideas and insights. Be OK with being able to act with incomplete information.

“It’s not enough to upgrade our digital capabilities,” Walsh says. “We must evolve our leadership as well.”