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Kieran Murrihy, Kathryn Hume,
Kathryn Hume 01:04
As a consultant futurist Kieran Murrihy has the great fortune of collaborating with people and organisations that want to generate inspired visions of the future, and build the models and approaches that bring those visions to life. Kieran’s formula for achieving this is “Think beyond, Connect across and Do new” hearing is skilled at helping people make sense of the important shifts taking place across our economies, workplaces, institutions, service settings and communities. His professional experiences give him a very pragmatic perspective on how this knowledge is applied in a real world setting. With extensive experience leading community regeneration efforts in areas of socio economic disadvantage, Kieran is skilled at assessing the most effective way to achieve positive and sustained change in complex settings. As the founder of Crazy Ideas College he is at the forefront of equipping young people to thrive in the modern workforce, and establishing new roads for them to play a vital role in keeping our economies, communities and environments vibrant, and prosperous. Kieran Murrihy, welcome to the Reimagined Workforce podcast.
Kieran Murrihy 02:12
I’m thrilled to be here anything with the word reimagining, in it gets me up. It sounds like fun.
Kathryn Hume 02:19
It absolutely is and I have to say, since meeting you, I am just even more excited than I have been in the past. And that’s unbelievable, because I’m very pretty excited about this space. But I can’t wait for you to share all the stories of what you’re working on. And in fact, just before we started, and I say this to a lot of my guests is I wish I hit the record button before because there’s so much gold people talk to me about but you were talking about the fact that you you’ve been working a little bit more in the operational space of late. But you’re starting to transition back to that future space and how exciting that is for for you.
Kieran Murrihy 02:56
Absolutely, because we’re really excited about what Crazy Ideas College is going to be able to do over the coming years. But it has meant that I’m kind of in there making sure the machinery of that business is operating well. But we’re kind of moving to a stage where I can get back into that thinking beyond piece Kath, which I’m really excited about.
Kathryn Hume 03:13
So that’s a good segue. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
Kieran Murrihy 03:18
Yeah, beautiful. So yeah, as I mentioned up front, I really loved that I got an opportunity to do some work going back 15 or so years ago. I had about 10 years actually working directly in communities who were saying, “Look, we want kind of different possibilities for ourselves and our young people. We need to reimagine what our communities look like.” And to do that in the public service, so I was in state government for 17 years, but I’d say a decade of that decade, that was working in a very entrepreneurial way on the ground directly with people and the council’s and state and federal government and local business and the local service providers. So that was just an amazing experience. That kind of enabled me I think, as I then moved into the futures space and sort of foresight and strategy and innovation consulting, to make sure I don’t get lost in the clouds. So I think back to those people I worked with in community who would have said, Yeah, but what the hell are we gonna do now?
So you know, that ability to kind of go out and think broadly about and see new possibilities, but make sure that we’re really grounding that in the here and now. So continue to have done that futures consulting for about 10 years now, and have also been establishing Crazy Ideas College, which we might get a chance to talk briefly about as well over the last five years.
Kathryn Hume 04:44
And I think Helen Finneran mentioned that in her episode around that. She actually I think the words she used were “Kieran Murrihy he held my hand while I ran her when she did her first innovation workshop”. So maybe, why not, let’s go to that now. What is Crazy Ideas College? And what’s your vision for that?
Kieran Murrihy 05:04
Oh, yeah. So well, with Crazy Ideas College, there’s some sort of short way we talked about that is equipping, connecting and unleashing young people so they can do crazy good in the world.
So you know, we want to make sure that young people have the capacities, if you like alongside their traditional education that’s really, really important. But we want to provide them with some other experiences that enable them to feel like they’re, they’re learning another set of capabilities that are going to hold them in really good stead as they move into the world.
So we’ve got a few programmes we do:
- Future Ready, which is thinking about the future will work and what am I going to do and lots of plan that kind of might take me there.
- Lead for Impact, leading around the issues, they care about.
- Social innovators, which is where they again, think about the issues they care about, but work in teams to invent services, programs, products that tackle those problems, enrich the lives of their citizens and fellow citizens and showcase new ways to care for the planet.
The really important part there, again, to sort of connect back to what we spoke about earlier, Kath, is that we have an Ideas to Life lab. So as we work with young people on that or pitch to community, the really kind of important phase is then being able to collaborate with local business, local service providers to bring those ideas to life, you know, so moving the educational experience from happening almost predominantly in their schooling life to actually how do we get learning happening in community? How do we get young people? How are we tapping into them as an asset to help us solve problems that we’ve got locally? How are we actually making sure they’re genuinely collaborating with their community leaders and with business? Totally different learning experience connects them into their communities in very different ways, but also lifts their sights about what’s possible for them.
So the other piece of the puzzle is we’re really sort of focused from a future workspace on that first job. So earlier activation of the talent pipeline, what’s that look like? Or talent pathway. However we want to frame that up, and really thinking about making sure we’re getting them into those first opportunities. We know how important that is in creating new first opportunities.
We’ve got some projects here, we we may get a chance to chat to later that talk about that in evidence. So but we’ve had teams who’ve got their products in the supermarkets, the papacy bags and Gemini bags, we’ve got teams working with aged care providers on hire grandkid, you know, connecting across the, across the generation. So lots of brilliant, inspired ideas coming from young people. But again, making sure they’re just not like ideas that got pitched and sat there. These are ideas, we need to get out into the world,
Kathryn Hume 07:44
And I really love that you’re basing it in things that they care about. But they’ve got that fire in their belly, they’re passionate and you’re actually, I don’t necessarily think they’ll all have the tools to do it. But you’re connecting the people who can enable them to do it and do it together, which is, you know, I think everyone knows how much I love that whole together.
Kieran Murrihy 08:02
Absolutely. Yeah, the new forms of collaboration, connecting across traditional boundaries is a key piece of those waves of change that we’ll talk about.
Kathryn Hume 08:10
Yeah, and that intergenerational collaboration is really important, too, because I think it builds empathy and understanding. I love the higher grandchild for a day that shows a real understanding of what is important to people. My daughter works in aged care and she had to do an audit at the end of last year, just to ask the residents, what would they really like, for Christmas? What events and things and overwhelmingly, they just wanted kids to come and sing to them sing Christmas carols? And you know, that’s, that’s what they want that and, you know, it just brings back to life, what’s really important, it’s just that human connection, isn’t it?
Kieran Murrihy 08:51
Absolutely. Imagine if we were employing an army of young people to go in and do that.
Kathryn Hume 08:56
Yeah, and what I love about, she can tell you some amazing stories of that from the residents who will tell you about their careers. And they’ve got some phenomenal experiences throughout their lives, you know, coming from different countries not knowing the language. Just some really interesting stories. And I think understanding those stories and knowing that they’re real people that you’re caring for just brings that human element, it just it helps them understand that what life’s about, I think, to some degree.
Kieran Murrihy 09:27
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, if you look at the capabilities that are going to be important, for younger people being able to position themselves to build a great vocational journey, and the ability to have empathy to have those ability to care, the ability to connect form great personal relationships, that’s going to be a key component of that as well.
Kathryn Hume 09:46
Yeah, for sure. Actually. So you lead in a conversation when the nice way here because then my next question is, what does your Reimagined Workforce look like?
Kieran Murrihy 09:54
Yeah, brilliant Kath and this is where we are going to kind of just want to set some markers up, if you like that are going to help orient this part of the conversation. In futures thinking one of the things we love to do is just get some simple frames at times that help us kind of go. Okay, that’s how we’re going to think about this as we explore that reimagine workplace over the next period of time.
So I know Helen talked about the three horizon’s framework. So great framework, check that one out.
But we’re going to use Jim Dator’s Four Images of the Future, just quickly to think about some different forces that are at play so that when we’re thinking about a reimagined workforce, we’re not imagining that it’s going to be up ended overnight. We’re moving into a totally new system. It’s really the interplay between those different forces, if you like, of the:
- business as usual, and
- what’s emerging and
- what’s kind of breaking down,
That’s really important.
So the four images:
- Businesses as usual, I guess, our societies, you could think about that continued growth in the traditional models for work that we’ve got at the moment.
- Then there’s Limits and Discipline. So you can think about this one often comes in, comes in line more readily when we’re actually got breakdown happening. So think about COVID. We did move into is trying to limit and discipline rules, how do we actually contain make the system a little less complex so that we can understand it? How do we, you know, in COVID, what we’re doing was looking to slow it down, in a sense. So limits and discipline comes online at different points in time, as I say, particularly when we talk about the next one
- Break down. So what are the things that are actually breaking down that no longer work when we think about the world of work?
- And then what we do have as well is Breakthrough, or Transform whatever you want.
So we’re going to be thinking about the fact that all of these are really online, when we think about the world of work. So we’re going to think about, well, what actually are some of those stories of breakthrough? What are the big waves that are actually flowing across that that are going to be the things that are if you like, are going to be both intention, and also connecting up and butting up against that view that we’ve got that the system is going to keep us working the way we work for a little bit longer like this. So it’s actually the way those kind of forces or those appetites for change, play together that actually dictates how the journey unfolds over the next period of time.
So, a bit like to Play School windows Kath, we’re going to kind of get three windows, we haven’t got the fourth one of the three, probably when we were younger, I think it wasn’t it?
Kathryn Hume 12:26
I always loved the arch one that was all I never, I never deviated it was always arch.
Kieran Murrihy 12:34
So Andy Hines University of Houston Good Futures, he’s doing this well, what are those images of the future in that breakthrough? You know, that kind of like, what’s going to be working with capitalism when we think about the big ways we’re organising society. He’s got three models.
He’s got the circular commons, we’re not going to talk too much about each of them. I’ll explain them in a slightly different way in a minute. He’s talking about the non-workers’ future, as a second and tech abundance. Now the windows we’re going to use to think about reimagine workforce, people power. So these align with us, we’re going to think about through that people power lens. The second one is the way we’re starting to move our organising models from machine models to ecosystemic models. We’ll talk about what that means. And the third is smart tech making the unimaginable possible. So there are windows, we’ll have a look at going over what’s happening, what are the signals we’re seeing related to each of those three?
Kathryn Hume 13:38
So how are you applying this in what you’re doing in the community? Can you maybe give us a practical example of what that looks like?
Kieran Murrihy 13:46
Yeah, so maybe what we can do Kath is talk about, well, when we talk about people power, what are we actually talking about, and then look at some specific examples that are taking place in the workplace and go, “Oh, OK, that’s a signal of that particular window, that story”.
So if you think about people power, a couple of little prompts for us might be the fact that what we’re starting to see as a trend is more and more people reimagining what a life well lived is.
So where does work sit in that?
Also personal agency. Hold that for a minute.
One paradigm kind of move that we sometimes use when we’re thinking about the service sectors. There’s some work I think it was NASA who did this that talked about the three paradigms of service provision, and now we’re talking about from the 1940s, to the 1980s it was parental kind of like that parents metaphor for actually how the services saw the people that was actually providing services to. We had this move then into this thinking about consumers, people getting services as consumers. You know, more choice personalization and obviously, we’re still not all the way through that. But if you think about the next move as people power, what we’re really talking about there is in the workforce, people as connected producers but not necessarily just recipients anymore, but actually producers. Workers in the system in a way that they haven’t been before.
So what we’re, you know, we’re starting to say the codes around this around validating their personal expertise. So it’s not the system that’s got the answers. It’s actually you’ve got some answers. And we need to kind of be collaborating with you, as the developer, the designer of the solution,
Kathryn Hume 15:26
Sort of human centred design falls in there.
Kieran Murrihy 15:28
Yeah, you would say human centred design is in there, to a degree. And it can sometimes extend even beyond that into people and community is a creative actors actually designing and shaping the solutions.
So this is a little bit of a move from government manages, and regulates all the services to actually community as stewards of the services and remembering we’re not saying this is moving there overnight, what we’re trying to do is going well, what are the signals that tell us that’s a story that is on the move? A transform story that’s on the move, and that is, if you like, going to be creating some creative tension with our business as usual model.
So do you want us to land that? Well, what does that actually mean, in the world of work?
If we think about this, even like this personal agency, people power piece, just look for some minor signals.
So one of the first one we’ll look at is some work by Bea Boccalandro from the US, because one of the things that when we think about a reimagined workforce, there’s a lot of conversation. So you know, most of them, we’re familiar with the ikigai model, which is kind of like find your passion and go for it, you know, and make sure you get paid for doing that, which is beautiful, right? And it’s certainly part of the story.
But what B’s also pointing to is in this space is people taking more agency or ownership of actually bringing their purpose into whatever role they’ve got. Bringing meaning into that. So if I do, if I’m in charge of actually how we purchase in an organisation. How am I bringing my purpose and meaning, the things I care about into that role. So again, this is saying, don’t just wait for work to do this, on a personal level? What is it you can do not everyone is going to be able to work create their own, you know, we’ll talk about where people are doing that shortly. But that’s if that’s not the reality for everyone at the moment, particularly over the next 10 to 15 years, people are yearning for meaning, yearning to connect what they do to purpose. And so saying, if that’s what you want, look for how you can do that within the context.
Kathryn Hume 17:34
Probably there, but you just have to connect the dots.
Kieran Murrihy 17:38
Yeah, that’s right. So and then and again, encouraging people to take ownership of that, as part of that, you know, personal agency isn’t all just about a film entitled to more. So they actually infer that we’ve got to step up. And we’ve got to have expectations on ourselves about what we can actually do. So that’s one thing.
If you like another one, where we see these kind of people power, is we’re seeing this a little bit with young people as kind of almost like the experimenters of this and when we go out and run future ready with young people, one of the things we talked to them about is the different opportunities that are popping up for them that maybe wasn’t available to their parents, and their grandparents is this design your life? You know, sometimes we get talked about the gig economy can be seen in a couple of different ways. Yes, it’s got its extractive transactional nature to it, which is, you know, has its pathologies and unhealthy kind of forms. But if you think about that business, as usual, just continuity of the norm for many young people, they’re actually getting locked out of the success story. Owning having it certainty of job. So what starts to happen when some of these stories no longer being true. If I am a young person growing up some of those things people have been told this how to live well live. That story is really breaking down for many young people. And what we see then is that’s an opportunity to actually craft a new story.
Well, what does success look like?
And so again, these are only just early signals, emerging signals, but we are seeing this design your life. So for young people, the gig economy, as I said, has its unhealthy forms. But what it’s also leading to is for some people to start to think about how do I craft a portfolio of work and volunteer opportunities. That actually means I get to live a great life? Sure my money mightn’t be there, but I’m not going to buy a house anyway. So actually, there’s a freedom and liberation in that what does that open up?
So this design your life, build a portfolio of vocations that I can kind of enjoy and see where that leads? Think about it more like a journey that I don’t know the twists and turns that’ll take place is an interesting thing to follow,
Kathryn Hume 19:47
Which I think in reality is what a lot of people would say now, like people my age would say their career wasn’t planned. They’ve sort of just fallen into things and wound their way around to arrive at where they are. I was at a breakfast yesterday with Alison Hernandez. She was on the last episode last year. But she talks about Linda Gratton’s book, the 100 year life. And she actually mentioned this portfolio career concepts as well. And I think I’m seeing that a lot. And I think actually, that’s probably what I’m doing because I’m, I’m working across different government organisations. But I’ve also got this podcast and I’ve got, you know, other other things on the boil as well. So I think I kind of hadn’t reflect that, what’s reflected on that I could see myself in that space. But I think it’s really good people like you were pointing these emerging trends out, because then we can see where we fit within them, rather than to be terrified of them.
Kieran Murrihy 20:45
Absolutely. Again, back to that agency thing, isn’t it? Like there is when we again, when we talk to young people, you know, they are nervous, they’re uncertain about the future and that brings nervousness. But they’re also really excited about the freedom. So that’s right. You know, it’s how do you help people kind of see it clearly, so that they can feel like they’re not just reacting to a host of things coming at them? They can go “well, if this is, what the context is, what’s the choices I can make, to at least move myself towards the sort of future I, you know, I could feel happy with?”.
Kathryn Hume 21:16
Yeah, and that sense of control is where you reduce the anxieties about that uncertainty.
Kieran Murrihy 21:20
Absolutely. And I’m sure Helen talked about this one is kind of like the Uberfication of services, as we said, you know, like people as creative agents and producers in the system. And if you think about, we’ll just use that Uber scenario for a minute, and just, it points to a couple of things.
So it hasn’t, it’s got, again, it’s got its pathological forms. But the really interesting thing there, that sort of maybe helps us understand what this shift is, to a degree, is that if you think about in the old taxi industry, the people we put faith in, to go on “I’m going to be safe when I get in that taxi” And again, that taxi to some degree, say it’s regulated by government, it’s got licencing, it’s got safety protocols all around it.
And then all sudden, you get this technology that enables, you know, I rate the driver, and the driver rates me. So it becomes a community, essentially, as the stewards of the system.
So this is a bit of a move between actually, who’s organising who’s got stewardship of things, and we’re going to increasingly kind of see this start to pop up.
And again, it’s not overnight, it’s just that we’re still going to have that traditional systems. I want to keep in mind that yes, we know that, but we’re looking at is what’s popping up what’s interesting. And so just think about a couple of quick examples.
So taxi, who do a lot of work here in Australia, or in the social sector. So they’ve got a family by family, that employs families who’ve experienced the sorts of challenges that other new families are coming through actually, as experts? You know, not through a traditional university degree, or whatever it happens to be to say, they’ve got life expertise. They are workers, valued workers in the system, if you like.
And what’s interesting, if you think about this, also is that so in mental health, I have done a lot of work there, here in Victoria, with the lived experience workforce. One of the things that which is fabulous to say, “OK, we need to get that perspective into how services are being designed”. But one of the things that can happen, when we do that is we go, “we’ve got to get people with lived experience, and we’ve got to give them these jobs, and they’ve got to get in and they’ve got to inform and you know, change, the way we’re doing things” is, to be honest, what happens is often they get marginalised, they feel marginalised, because the people who are actually doing the doing and the system are busy with all of that, and they can’t quite find the time and space to connect this up.
The move to what we’re saying here is actually get lived experience in is deliverers, not just advisors, but as part of the delivery system. Which changes if you like, how other people can understand them, too. So even think about some models, like in England there’s Stay up late gig buddies. So for people with disabilities, one of the challenges for them if they love late night music was the services around they opened during the day. And what they did was go out to community and go “do you want to be a stay up late gig buddy?” Take young people with disabilities or old people to the sorts of concerts they want to go to? And so community became part of the solution. And again, people who had a passion around music all of a sudden would go, “oh, wow, I’ve got this opportunity to contribute in this one”.
So that’s a bit of a shift again, just to pay attention to and obviously, there’s been a lot of chatter about the great resignation. And Andy Hines makes this point to that we’ve seen a bit of people taking agency and going well “stuff the machine, that’s not working for me”. But then you run up against the realities of we’re still living in the machine, you know.
So what we’re seeing is a lot of people having to reassess the decisions that they’ve made. So as we sort of start to talk about this ecosystemic kind of operating model, what we’re really saying there is, we kind of also need models that mean that when we want to go stick it to the machine, it’s not working to me, I’ve got other ways to actually create a life. So at the moment, people are kind of stuck.
Kathryn Hume 25:26
But I think too at that conference that I went to last year, that Nick Kennedy brands Workforce Planning Institute, we there was a I can’t remember his name is from EY (I have since checked and the person I was referring to is Paul Meijer). But he spoke about the fact that we need to get less possessive around talent. And I think the old model that we’ve got where you belong to an employer, and if you wanted another job, you have to get permission from your employer first, like that whole belief that the employer actually owns you, I think we’ve got to break that down. Because that just reduces the flexibility and the mobility in the system. It’s just over committing everybody, you know, the employer has to then commit to paying someone for potentially something that they don’t need. And then the employee might end up in something that they don’t want to be in, but because of the commitment that they’ve made, and it’s too risky to try and move outside, but if we break down those barriers, there’s surely mutual benefits all over the place.
Kieran Murrihy 26:21
Well, that’s an amazing segue into the next window we call, which is the ecological way of working or ecosystemic way of working. And that’s a signal, I guess, that you’re referring to, we kind of talk about is a bit of this, a machine kind of manages its parts. And then ecosystem is more about less about ownership and more about access, and exactly as your sign flowing, the resources that are available in the ecosystem, if we’re sort of thinking more broadly, and we’ll land use in a moment. So they get to the right place at the right time.
So we moved from employment models, which we need in health, we need this specialist expertise, just in case to just in time. So the practical one that you’ve seen are no, you know, we’ve I’ve seen him to consider consulting work as well in regional health services in particular, who are all competing as machines, if you like. We’ve got to have this clinical expertise. And when you step back and go hang on these 10 service providers in this kind of like, you know, extended region, the workforce solution here, you might be thinking more ecosystemically about flowing that capacity to where it needs to go at any point in time, and changing the employment model, as you say. So that’s a beautiful example of the shift that’s available when we take off our machine story and go “What’s it look like? What opens up if we think about this as a broader ecosystem?”
Kathryn Hume 27:47
Yeah. And at that conference, it was really interesting because they had Jane Data from NASA present. And she talked about the fact that interestingly, NASA do not allow to terminate employment, other than misconduct. So when you recruit someone, you recruit them forever. And I found that astonishing because NASA have these massive projects and then surely, there’s periods of time where the demand is not there. So she talked about, she had a word coopetition, she talked about. So she said, you know, they’ve found people to partner with to say, when we don’t have the demand for these roles, we share them, and then we’ll bring them back in. And that way, we’re leveraging and everyone’s benefit, we’ve got this optimization occurring. So it’s we’re not having to make short term decisions for long term propositions.
Kieran Murrihy 28:41
Absolutely. So when we’re just thinking, stop thinking about ourselves as a closed border as an organisation and just extend that a little bit, all of a sudden, those opportunities emerge.
And there’s a good story to around NASA and one of the things that they’ve done to Kath that speaks to this kind of thinking about in the machine metaphor, we’re only thinking about the talent we’ve got in house, in an ecosystem, we’re thinking about the talent, we can get access to, depending on what we need to solve.
So this is going back a few years, but they actually read in one of the sections in NASA, they had a budget shortfall or that had money taken out of the budget, essentially. Now they still have to achieve the same things. So we can keep trying to achieve that with the resources we’ve got in house or what if we created a way to actually access the talent?
So what they started to do was create these challenges to say, we’ve got to solve this particular kind of technical challenge. Putting it out as competitions, essentially open sourcing, and you know, rewarding and incentivising people to come in and actually solve it. So all of a sudden, they’re not just seeing that they’re people, they’re going, we need to crowdsource the solution to you. And I think they get a $3 return for every dollar they invest in their challenges. So again, just the same mindset opens up new opportunities and possibilities.
Just a headline essentially, I guess a couple of the headlines but Sohail Inayatullah, who’s one of the premier futurist does a lot of work globally. And he did a piece of work with Interpol international Policing, about actually what’s their identity, what’s their story about who they are, and to see whether that story is still sufficient for the times they’re in. And what’s the metaphor if you like?
So what they actually did is they worked out, they’re kind of like, from warrior, the warrior priests. So we fight crime, we’ve got to have bigger weapons than, you know, the crime and bigger kind of guns and machinery and all that were warriors. And what was happening for them is the nature of crime was changing a lot more it was online, it was happening across borders, and this kind of like, you know, was happening outside of their old kind of ways of being able to manage it. And what they realised is that their story had to change they needed to become conductors of the orchestra.
That’s a very, very big shift.
So one of the things that can happen for us, as individuals, but also organisations is we’re being asked to kind of think about our context more broadly, because we can’t achieve what we’re used to kind of with this machine kind of mentality is that we have to think much more about who we are to other people.
So from even if you think about this, from a at a personal level, if you think about where you live in the world of work, and this informs a lot of the strategy work for you to focus strategy work, I do with people as well with organisations is, okay, who do you think you are, but let’s really understand who you are in the ecosystem to other people, because that gives us another lens, if you like that can really shift up how we see our role, how we see the value, we create the contribution, we make, our metaphors for how we actually turn up to work, the sorts of systems, the things that we do, as well.
So another quick example on that is, I think this was from Britain. The headline is, that’s not what firefighters are paid to do. But exactly what you’re talking about before is, you know, you see these fire stations all over the place. And you go, “Wow, there’s a lot of kind of, you know, people sitting there at times”, which is a really important role, but they’re going actually “what are the things we can be using that asset, that workforce asset for that might actually enable more value to be created in community so that we’re not kind of having it sitting there just in case. That talent, that that resource, but actually having them out there with the elder citizens, you know, thinking about looking at fire safety and all of that in house, it’s kind of so there’s a whole host of things, again, when we move from that just in case to just in time that open up.
So but again, just trying to land this notion of an ecosystem and flow and doing things at the right time at the right place at the right speed. And what does that actually mean in terms of how individually you can go about your work.
And so there’s been some really interesting work done around Deep Work by Cal Newport.
But, Amantha Imber, is an Australian who’s doing a lot of innovation four-day work week, a whole host of things. She’s got a great podcast (How I Work) that talks about work. So I’d follow her work if you’re interested in this. But one of the things that they talking about there, too, is that we actually have an opportunity to kind of craft our workdays differently. So that if we want more choice more freedom more time, but need to be able to get through things, how is it we actually structure our day? More like a, you know, thinking more about what is the flow need to be there? Because our brain functions if you like, there’s times when we need to do that deep cognitive processing, which is when we’re literally conceptual, or we need to solve something, or we need to do a deep piece of writing that requires a little bit of thinking. And so a lot of the evidence is about well, when’s the best time to do that? For many people, most people, indeed, it’s like, in the mornings, essentially. So again, how is it you craft space? And so practical things like not scheduling meetings in the morning, actually having your emails shut off for that two hours or however long that hour and a half that you’re going to be doing that work? And the other important thing there is kind of doing the thing that’s hardest to do? That’s likely be the thing that drops off the back of the list if you don’t upfront? Yeah, I think I think I can, I guess if you go, okay, not every piece of time is exactly the same not every workday actually. I need spaces where I’ve got deep work. Where am I crafting that out for myself, because the nature of the work is different. And then as you’re able to do that, then moving into your meetings and all that can be more of that sort of task-oriented work that doesn’t require as much deep cognitive processing. So there’s things you can do at an individual level.
Kathryn Hume 34:44
And I think we just had an episode with Jazz Hanley, and he was talking about the proliferation of tech tools and how distracting they are to us, actually, living out our work day. And I think to your point around agency. The whole job crafting. I love that idea because that to me is all about agency and how do individuals craft their not only their work but their life. But I think he was talking about how organisations can design it. But I also think people need to understand how they can, like I’ve got a pretty clear understanding with people I work with that I have set times in the day that I will be deep working and I’m not going to respond to your email straightaway. So please don’t expect that if you need to contact me urgently. There’s different ways of doing that. But I have to carve out that time because I know I need the discipline to say, yep, that’s when I’m going to do the stuff that I really have to think hard about and don’t necessarily love and enjoy. But it makes for a better day, if I’ve got it done. And then I can enjoy the rest of the day.
Kieran Murrihy 35:46
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think that’s right, what we are going to see is, I think in terms of we think about a different work experiences, we’re gonna start to see organisations cottoned on to this as well. To go actually, we’ve now got remote work. And, you know, we can’t just keep rolling out the model that we had, we need to think more creatively, but actually come to look at what the evidence tells us to about have had to have happy people, make sure they’ve got the space. So you know, we are seeing those policies, whether that’s a four day work week, whether that is companies, some of the companies too, are starting to kind of put some, some limits around meetings and so forth and when they occur.
So I think they’ll have an individual level with agency, but also at an organisational level, we’ll see more of that.
One quick one, too, on what’s opening up here is this time around social license for organisations. So a quick example. So in Crazy Ideas College we’re kind of we’ve actually went our connecting across has been to go and actually partner with industry and business. Essentially, kind of almost under the social license, opening that that’s coming out.
So for example, working with people that make roads and infrastructure, who in the past government has said to them in the machine, okay, you’re the road builders go and build the road, that’s all we care about.
Ecosystem says, hang on, we’re investing in you, we want you to invest in the local community. So actually, in their tenders, and those things, now they’ve got to show the impact, they’re able to make off the back of the resources that are coming in the work that they’re doing into that local community. So that’s going to open up a lot of opportunities to again, and it’s again, that you’re not just a machine doing on your own, you’re part of community, what are you doing, actually, to make sure that community is thriving. So that’s a really interesting kind of trend to watch because it’d be a lot of opportunities, if you’re like that start exploding off the back of that as well.
Kathryn Hume 37:40
And I can imagine that’ll be really positive for that those rural and regional, where we’re seeing a lot of challenges in the workforce, and just retaining young people in those and it’s just really sad to think that they could die out if we lose all that talent to the metros.
Kieran Murrihy 37:56
Yeah, absolutely. That’s right. So how do we get investment that, you know, we’re thinking about multiple ways that we want that investment to impact.
Kieran Murrihy 38:06
So the last one, and we’ve deliberately left it to last and we can do it reasonably swiftly if you want, because there’s always a lot of tech talk about tech. And it kind of dominates the conversation about the future of Work
Kathryn Hume 38:19
It’s the obvious.
Kieran Murrihy 38:20
It’s the obvious one. And of course, it is pervasive. And of course, it’s making a really big, you know, it’s influencing us in so many ways you can find lots of information. But we’ll just talk about a few things that are potentially kind of interesting here.
But we don’t want to forget, it’s not all tech, it’s also those cultural changes, as we said, machine to ecosystem, it’s also the organising logic. The shift in that that are going to be the big, the big determinants of what sort of what work looks like over the next period of time. But smart tech, we’ve got smarter tools, faster tools, building smarter and faster tools all the time and an exponential rate of change. The other interesting thing too, though, with tech that will influence work is it’s been democratised. So smart tech doesn’t just sit with government and the military anymore, it’s kind of out there with all of us. So that’s how we’re getting up a whole lot of opportunities if we think about people taking agency over their own work experiences as well. And the big shift kind of like that may take place is at the moment smart tech work into algorithms. The big debate is when it learns to learn and they can move its concepts from one context to another. That is a big shift, that’ll change, potentially, if that’s achieved, what it’s capable of doing and what this is doing alongside it. But also there have been these isolated machines to now being almost everything’s connected. So these big, super smart systems.
So there are a couple of kinda like, things we need to be mindful of in open up with smart tech to is just one headline, around using microchips in athletes to monitor drug cheats, you know, to check that clip. It can become pervasive. The tech, you know, I think about a workforce where everything you do is able to be monitored the impact of what you’re working on all those things.
So, again tech has got its unhealthy forms, and we might get stuck down that rabbit hole. But a reminder, the breakthrough isn’t always early.
So we do have that Big Brother kind of worry with that. But there is a view to that what it is, what’s going to be really interesting is how do we use tech as a way to enable human flourishing? So what is it the humans are going to be doing? What is tech going to be doing? So tech, obviously, is really, really good at big data, big learning, big processing, all those various things. So it is going to start it’s good at content creation, too. If you’re going to, you know, jump into chatGPT. It’ll get me a bit glib, it won’t be novel, but it’ll be a great synthesis around any question that you’ve got.
So we are increasingly going to see, I guess, some of those challenges that we’ve got, whether that’s in mental health or health provision, or anywhere where we’ve got gaps, a lot of people are starting to think about what’s the role of tech.
So for example, just a quick example, in mental health, where we’ve got really big gaps, and in some of the European countries, there’s some really interesting experiments around, actually, the Psychologist isn’t seeing, a young person, because it’s such a long waiting list, until there’s been all of this, there’s been smart tech used essentially, to do this diagnostics analysis, the big sort of pattern recognition you go, what we know is the presenting with these types of issues, personality types, and this is likely to be the kind of the pathway if you like to treatment and management. And so it’s at that point that the Psychologist brings their human expertise in, and their natural connection.
So using if you like to do a lot of that data crunching analysis person, understanding the sort of the personality types, and those sorts of things is where we’re going to start to see that. And even just think about teachers who have seen themselves as the producers and content creators and deliverers. And what this shifts to is to say, “Well, why have we got all these people out doing content creation, when we can actually maybe get an expert doing that, or we’ve got AI doing components of that to get the really best information and the role changes to, to write on how to help make sense of the opportunities for a young person, and then guide?”
So again, the identity of roles potentially shifting quite significantly, as the role of humans becomes to augment, what computers can do really, really well, but what humans can do really, really well. Those things around empathy. AI isn’t that great at novelty yet. So, you know, even things like that it faces a novel situation like a goalkeeper in a game falls over and it’s got a penalty kick, you know, struggling to deal with that, because it hasn’t seen it often enough. So hasn’t been able to learn, if you like the patents around that. So when we talk about creativity is because of that, this is novelty, it’s bringing the spirits bring the passion, it’s bringing the ability to form human connection. So again, when we do our work with young people, we’re really focusing on those kinds of capacities as well, we’re going to become increasingly important, as we increasingly work alongside technology. Even in industries in the past where we haven’t necessarily seen it, we’ve seen it as a tool, not something that’s actually really going to be replacing a lot of the tasks that we do, which gets into the very identity of our roles.
Kathryn Hume 43:34
And I was speaking to someone the other day, and they were talking about the difference with the fourth industrial revolution is that the roles that have been replaced in previous revolutions is at the lower levels, whereas this technology that’s coming in now is actually capable of doing more high-level thinking. So that makes you quite nervous. And I wonder too, if that’s leading the charge around shorter degrees and micro learning, and people don’t necessarily want to commit to these three years, six year long degrees, because we don’t know what the world’s going to look like, and how valuable that will be when you come out?
Kieran Murrihy 44:13
Yeah, and again, it’s a shift from machine type learning to an ecosystem. So I do a bit of work strategy wise in the Adult Ed sector who’ve been funded by government. But what industry is telling them is exactly what you’re saying is what they want, and what people suddenly cottoned on to these too is they don’t necessarily need the three year degree. Maybe I do, you know, for certain types of, but what I need to be able to do is to get the right credentials at the right time to move into the right opportunity.
So that’s what industry starting to demand from the training sector is this just in time training credential around the things that matter at that moment, as opposed to going to a three year course just in case I need to know that at some point in time, I’ll learn what I need to learn. It’s a big shift again in the learning but that has the interface with whatever Workplace experiences are going to look like,
Kathryn Hume 45:02
I could not agree with you more. So my background is L&D. And that’s where I always go back to that, because it’s what were so much my education is. But you know, if I could change one thing in the world would be just that we actually develop people’s capability intentionally around how to learn. So what we do know is that whatever career pathway you choose, you’re going to need to be learning continuously and often. So rather than it being the responsibility of other people back to that people agency, how do we give them that power back? Well, I think we give them the ability to learn, they need to understand how to interact, and, you know, we are actually doing that naturally, because humans, that’s what humans do. But I think there’s, we can strengthen that. And I think if we, you know, I’d love to see it in the curriculum, I’d love to see, when we rolled out programs that we embed the learning how to learn element as well.
Kieran Murrihy 46:00
Absolutely. Because in that, just in time analogy, that’s right. It’s like, I don’t need all the content, or I might not even need that skill. But what I need to do is be really good at learning that quickly, when I do. It is a it is a bit of a shift, but a really exciting one, for people to go that has more of that kind of journey, you know, I’m going to be able to craft a career over time. But that’s difficult when you can’t see how.
I think one of the shifts we’re going to have to that you’re pointing to is we have to give people confidence that they’re going to be navigating more vocational journeys that are less certain. And they are maybe going to have a lot of twists and turns in them. And well, what’s the capabilities that I need and the mindset that I need that enables me to thrive if that’s the context, in which I’m actually facing in to a career again, just for young people like until right before the move of tech, you know, all those entry level jobs, and even things like law, and now my tech, so we would have gone in and done the analysis of cases, done the grunt work, you don’t that that role is not needed anymore. So again, a lot of that entry level stuff happening for young folks. That’s why young people, so it’s so interesting, what’s happening for them, because in some instances, they’re the ones that are experiencing the sharp edge of it.
Kathryn Hume 47:13
It’s very interesting. I’ve actually developed a course I’ve run a few times now in that learning how to learn. And it fascinates me that how much people enjoy. And I think it’s because I’m like empowering them. That’s the whole point is to say, you actually have more control over this than you think. And there’s some really practical things that we can do. And it’s amazing that we don’t know these things. And once you sort of raise awareness to it, then people are off on their way.
Kieran Murrihy 47:41
Absolutely. Yes. It’s a beautiful leverage point. You’re giving people agency and control.
Kathryn Hume 47:48
Cool. Now, I’m conscious of time, I knew this would happen. And I have so many more questions to ask, I might need to ask you back some time. Because there’s, I actually have to go and digest all of what you’ve said, because a lot of it is big and exciting and trying to link them what how that links to what I do and how I can bring that into what I do is, you know, there’s so many opportunities there. So for now, we’ll end it here. But could you share with us if people did want to get in contact with you? What’s the best way to do that?
Kieran Murrihy 48:18
Yeah, I think just to talk to that point, quickly, Kath, When we go and do a future focused strategy with organisations, for example. We will go look, you’re going to need a strategy that primarily is about operating within the business as usual rules of the game. And that’s going to be 85% of your business most likely. So we can’t throw that out.
So but like you’re saying, as we start to think more broadly about what’s actually emerging, what’s breakthrough, we can feel like, at times, that’s almost a disempowering in a sense because hard to make sense. And what we’re kind of trying to help people understand is, it’s a part of the picture, but it’s not the full picture. What you know, already is still, if you can do that well, and do stuff there and incrementally improve. That’s brilliant. But what if we can also teach people to sort of do these experiments, if you like to go? Well, if we were to go out here and do some transformation work what are the areas that would really make a difference for us to transform on? So again, work transform on the things that matter most to business in the here and now. And then you start to leverage some of these kinds of new stories and these new trends and you go, what does that look like for us? So there’s a very, there’s a way to do it, that doesn’t feel overwhelming, and doesn’t feel like that’s all you’re trying to do. So whenever we talk about stuff, it’s like, just have this at the margins of your thinking. Don’t think it’s got to be now I’ve got to know all of this stuff and think about it because the world’s still gonna keep working the way it’s working for a decent period of time. If people want to get in contact they can. So there’s the two arms there’s kind of like the futures thinking strategy, innovation, service design all that they can look up Foresight Lane. And then and then do if you if you’re interested in the role young people are going to be playing and how they think adding wisdom and connecting with them. Check out Crazy Ideas College.
Kathryn Hume 50:04
Brilliant and I will include those details all in the show notes. And I presume LinkedIn for people to connect,
Kieran Murrihy 50:11
Yeah absolutely, connect up on LinkedIn. That’s fantastic.
Kathryn Hume 50:13
Awesome. Okay, so I will put all of those details in the show notes. And I thank you so much for your time and expertise and wisdom. And not only that, but for all of the positivity that you are creating for the young people in our world. And if you want to change the future, that’s where you have to start is with the future leaders of our community. So thank you. I really appreciate your time and I look forward to catching up with you again.
Kieran Murrihy 50:39
Terrific, I had a lot of fun.
Voice over 50:43
Thanks for listening to the reimagined workforce podcast. We hope you found some valuable ideas that you can apply to transform your own workforce today and tomorrow. Additional information and links can be found in the show notes for this episode at workforce transformations.com.au/podcast. Please share this podcast with your community and leave us a rating to let us know what we can do better for you.